World Cup Qualifiers Preview and Betting Tips
Sunday 8th = Monday 9th October
Match Previews and Betting Tips
Although they made hard work of beating Slovenia last Thursday night, it’s a case of job done for England and the flights to next year’s World Cup in Russia can now be booked. The other home nations, however, still have some work to do if they are to qualify automatically or move into a play-off situation but Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland still retain realistic hopes of making it into the finals.
Sunday 8th October
Lithuania v England. A last gasp winner from Harry Kane in last Thursday’s slender victory over Slovenia was enough to ensure that England will take their place at next year’s World Cup Finals. The final fixtures of the Group F qualifying campaign take place on Sunday and England look to have a relatively simple assignment as they face a very poor Lithuanian side. An England victory is virtually assured and the only danger may be complacency in the English camp following qualification. However, even on an off-day, England are the far better team and should have little difficulty registering a fourth successive Group F victory at short odds of 1/3.
Prediction: England to win
Norway v Northern Ireland. Last Thursday’s 3-1 home defeat by table-toppers Germany means that Northern Ireland can no longer finish top of Group C. Second place is secure but the pressure remains as not all the second placed group finishers are guaranteed a play-off place. Victory next Sunday over Norway should make sure of that play-off place but winning in Oslo may not be easy to achieve. Admittedly, Northern Ireland have enjoyed a magnificent campaign and are a full nine points clear of their hosts in the table but Norway are not a team to lie down and play dead. Beating an in-form Northern Ireland might be beyond the Norwegians but a draw would probably suffice for the Irish and looks a decent bet at odds of 11/5.
Slovenia v Scotland. An away draw with Slovenia might be enough to see Scotland finish second in Group F but that would be a risky result to play for as third-placed Slovakia must be certainties to beat group minnows Malta and pip the Scots to second on goal difference. Similarly, home side Slovenia simply must win this final group game to have even a remote chance of snatching second spot and a possible play-off place. With so much at stake, this should be a tough game with no quarter asked or given as the two teams go all out for the required victory. Slovenia can consider themselves somewhat unlucky to have lost to a last-gasp winner for England last Thursday and looked a very capable side. Scotland have improved immensely as the qualifiers have progressed and have now registered a draw and four wins in their last five outings. One goal either way should be enough to shade the verdict and it may be the in-form Scots who claim maximum points at good odds of 9/5.
Prediction: Scotland to win
Monday 9th October
Wales v Republic of Ireland. It’s a case of winner takes all on Monday night in the Group D battle for second place when Wales play host to the Republic of Ireland. Topping the table by one point, Serbia are virtually certain to finish in first place as they have a relatively easy home game against Georgia. That leaves the Welsh and the Irish to battle it out for second place and a possible (but not guaranteed) play-off place. Following last Friday’s results, Wales occupy second spot with a point advantage over Ireland so a draw will be enough for Wales to hold that second place while Ireland have no choice but to go for an away win. Home advantage and form are definitely on Wales’ side and it is almost impossible to see Ireland emerge with a win on current form. That said, Wales were less than impressive in their last game against Georgia and the necessity of winning might drive the Republic of Ireland to the victory they need at odds of 5/2.
Prediction: Republic of Ireland to win
World Cup Qualifiers Accumulator