BOLOGNA, ITALY - International minnows and perennial whipping boys San Marino make the short trip to Bologna to take on the European Championship runners-up this evening. The Italian fans will be expecting to rack up a cricket score against FIFA's lowest ranked side - San Marino sit in 207th position - and the odds clearly reflect this.
The bookmakers offer little value in the 90 minute market, Stan James are a industry best price of 1/66 on an Italy win - all other high street bookies go 1/100. You can pretty much name your price on a San Marino win, Paddy Power, bet365 and Coral offer 50/1 on the minnows snatching an unlikely victory. Finally the draw, another result that looks highly unlikely, is chalked up at 18/1 with bet365 among others.
San Marino have the odds and statistics firmly stacked against them. To put this game into context, San Marino are on a losing streak of 52 consecutive games. 52 games! And they have only mustered two goals in the last 4860 minutes of football.
It can be a difficult task in picking out value in such a one sided affair but nevertheless we can always find a good punting angle when trawling through the markets.
The first goal scorer market looks interesting for a variety of reasons, it's obvious an Italian player will score first (although Stuart Pearce and the 1993 England squad might beg to differ), so let's look at the candidates.
Cesar Prandelli has called up several new faces as the Azzurri experiment ahead of the World Cup qualifier with the Czech Republic and the confederation cup on the horizon. Balotelli, El Shaaraway and Osvaldo will miss out through injury so Alberto Gilardino heads the first goal scorer market at 7/4 with Paddy Power.
However, the additions of Marco Sau and Giacomo Bonaventura have caught my eye. The 25 year-old Cagliari striker Sau netted 12 goals in 30 games and should mark his International debut with a goal - you can back Sau at 3/1 with Paddy Power to open the scoring, decent value when considering the 7/4 on Gilardino.
Atlanta midfielder Bonaventura also looks set to make his international debut this evening and can be backed at 6/1 to score first, again with Paddy Power. The 23 year-old wide player can play almost anywhere in the final third of the pitch and has an eye for a goal too, the Atlanta midfielder scored seven goals this season and looks a good option in the goal scorer markets - he is 10/11 to score anytime with William Hill (Gilardino is 1/5 to score anytime to give context).
The Italians have a dismal record in recent friendly games after failing to win their last seven matches; however the calibre of opposition has been top class. Brazil, Netherlands, France, Russia, England etc.
An Italian victory isn't in doubt this evening; it just seems a question of how many goals they will score. The par score against San Marino is around 6-0 - even England managed to knock eight past the minnows recently. But Italy rarely give teams a good spanking despite controlling the game.
Elsewhere, I like the price of 7/4 with Betway on the first half producing the most goals as the influx of second half substitutions will disrupt the flow of the game.
The game kicks at 7:45 p.m. BST on Friday 31st May 2013.