The opening night of World Cup action served up some cracking matches and there’s plenty more to come as we move into round two.
Big-hitters Netherlands, Australia and Scotland all made serene progress into the second-round and defending champions Wales made light work of a spirited Finland side.
Polish pair Krzysztof Ratajski and Krzysztof Kciuk were comfortable winners against a solid Czech Republic outfit and the USA team led by the impressive Danny Lauby hammered Sweden 5-1.
Singapore came through a 5-4 thriller against Gibraltar and Lithuania got the job done against Hungary.
Bigger tests will await the likes of the Netherlands, Australia, Scotland and Wales, but they have made it through the opening round of pairs play and they now have some singles action to look forward to.
The first round completes on Friday tonight and there are a few interesting matches.
Ireland to Cause Portugal Upset
Portugal can call on the excellent Jose de Sousa, but his partner Jose Marques lacks experience. Marques has averaged in the high 80s and hit a nine-dart finish at Q-School, but that’s on the floor and this is a big-stage event.
The Portuguese pair were comfortably beaten by Austria in the second-round last year and Ireland look to have a nice balance to their side.
William O’Connor and Steve Lennon are both experienced and impressive performers and this event has happy memories for the pair after they made the final in 2019.
It’s likely to be a close contest, but it’s a surprise to see Portugal rated as favourites and Ireland look worthy of support at
No Worries for English Pair
Top seeds England have one of the strongest pairings in the event and they are up against one of the weakest in Brazil. On paper Dave Chisnall’s 180 hitting and James Wade’s lethal finishing is a recipe for success and regardless of styles you have two superb performers teaming up.
Brazil can call on Diogo Portela and Artur Valle, but the Samba Boys really do look outclassed. Portela has been trying and failing to win his Tour Card at Q-School for sometime and the same pair were hammered 5-1 by Sweden in the first-round two years ago.
Backing England -3.5 legs at
20/29 in this first-to-five contest looks a cracking bet.
Belgium Must Be Wary of Greek Tragedy
One underdog that may be able to stay competitive is Greece. Belgium have a strong pairing of Dimitri Van den Bergh and Kim Huybrechts, and although they are both capable of some fantastic arrows, neither of the Belgians would be the most consistent performer on tour.
Ireland took four legs of the Red Devils in the first-round two years ago and the Czech Republic also ran them to a decider in their opening match last term.
Greece are no world beaters, but John Michael is a straight-throwing Tour Card holder and he is a capable performer, when leaving his favoured double 20 finish.
Veniamin Symeonidis played well when Greece hammered Sweden 5-0 in the first-round last year and if the Greek pair can get somewhere near that level they may be able to win more legs than the +3.5 handicap line suggests.
*All odds correct at time of writing.