Watch Ep 24 of Shay Given's Football Tips | LeoVegas Sports

Shay Says - Episode 24

Welcome to Shay Says, the latest football betting blog from LeoVegas’ Irish ambassador, Shay Given.

This week, the Republic of Ireland and Premier League legend previews five fixtures from the upcoming round of European Championship qualifying, including his own nation’s match against Greece.

Let’s see what Shay Says!

Greece v Ireland

I do think Ireland can qualify for the Euros out of what is a tough group with France and the Netherlands. I’m positive after the France game because the performance was one of the best under Stephen Kenny, and at the end of the game the French team all ran over to the goalkeeper because he made such an amazing save at the end, he was absolutely brilliant. The key now is to bring that level to the games against Greece and Gibraltar.

All the focus is on Greece on Friday night, it’s a huge game, and the mindset must be that we’re going there to win, not to draw. A win could be massive in the grand scheme of not just getting into the playoffs but qualifying automatically from the group. If they can beat Greece and Gibraltar, six points would be massive.

If I had to choose my three first names on the team sheet, I think you’d have to focus on the spine. I don’t want to choose one of the goalkeepers because Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhin Kelleher are fighting it out so I’ll leave that to Kenny. Nathan Collins is a definite starter at the back because he’s been brilliant since coming into the Irish setup and I’m sure he’ll start. I think Josh Cullen at Burnley has had a brilliant season, gaining promotion and winning player of the season so I’d definitely go with him. The obvious one is Evan Ferguson up front because he’s been getting better and better, you can build a team around those three. I know they’re young but they’ve got experience and they’ve played quite a few internationals so they’ll definitely start for me.

It's not fair to such a young lad to put Ireland’s qualification hopes all down to Ferguson, but he’ll certainly play a big part. He’s just signed a new contract now and he looks settled in his own game, and I think he knows himself how important he is to us as a nation and I just hope that he can get the service, get chances and hopefully score them. I know he’s 18 but he strikes me as someone who has been around for a while, he’s a big strong bully character, and he’s hopefully mentally strong as well. Nothing seems to faze him and he’s taken to the Premier League like a duck to water so I just hope he can bring some more international goals to help us qualify.

Kenny has been there for a few years. He’s got a settled squad and I think they’ve all had enough experience to stand themselves in good stead so he probably knows that this is his opportunity now and if he can qualify with this set of players then they can kick on for the World Cup in the next campaign. Qualifying would bring belief to the players and the country and it would get everyone on side again.

I think the result will be Greece 1-2 Ireland. It will be a tight game but I just feel that if they can get their performance levels to the same as they did against France then they’ll get the win. I can see Ferguson scoring because it’s set up for him and he’s at the top of his game so hopefully he can get the job done.



England v Malta

You look at the two games England have against Malta and North Macedonia and expect them to get maximum points with no hiccups. Players who haven’t been playing the last couple of weeks will have been training hard and raring to go.

When you’re at England’s level, one of the biggest nations in the world, it’s about both results and performances. With the calibre of players and what the fans expect they’ll want maximum points and strong performances. I don’t see them not putting in two great performances because they’ve got so much quality in the squad.

I don’t want to be too harsh on Malta but I think it will be 4-0 to England. Harry Kane is going for every record under the sun at the moment and he’s obviously already broken the England goal record but he’ll want to extend that and get as many goals as possible, so I think he’ll score against Malta.



Wales v Armenia

Gareth Bale was obviously a superstar and every time you mentioned Wales you mentioned Gareth Bale. Now they have to move on from that.

I like Brennan Johnson and he’s a young player who I’d look at thinking that the future is bright for him. He’s had a decent season in the Premier League and they’ve stayed up so he’ll have confidence off the back of that. They’re not blessed with the same pool of players that England have so everyone will have to be on top of their game to qualify.

I think Wales will sneak it and win 1-0. There’s no easy games anymore in international football. He hasn’t been a shoo-in for Wales recently but if he starts, I think he’ll score; I like him as a player.



Norway v Scotland

It will be a tricky game – every time you play Norway in Norway then it’s tough. Scotland are off to a great start having beaten Spain which was absolutely brilliant. I think it will be 1-1 with John McGinn scoring off the back of a great season for Aston Villa. He’s always got a goal in him.



Denmark v Northern Ireland

When you look at Northern Ireland, they’ve got a smaller pool of players than all of the other nations we’ve talked about.

I can’t see anything other than a Denmark win here because they’ll be too strong at home, it will be seriously tough for Northern Ireland and I think Denmark will win it 3-0.



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*all odds correct at the time of writing and are subject to change