The first round of matches in the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 conclude on Thursday night when the five groups which did not start out on Wednesday evening do so in a session of play that looks full of quality.
We saw three of the four semi-finalists from the last staging of the tournament get their campaigns underway on Wednesday, and on Thursday the remaining one, England, start their quest for World Cup glory among a bunch of big names.
Spain are the big guns in Group B of the qualifying competition and they get their campaign underway on the first night of action in the second when they host former European champions Greece. It might be that all eyes are on the other game though as Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his return to the international fold when his Sweden side play host to a Georgia outfit who can be a tricky test for most teams.
Italy are the main side in Group C of the competition and with the history and prestige they have in the World Cup all eyes will be on them to see if they make it through to the main tournament. They start out in that quest with a home match against Northern Ireland. The other match in the group is one of the two early kick offs on the evening as Bulgaria take on a Switzerland side who might just be coming to the end of their shelf life at this level.
There is another early kick off in Group F of the competition. That includes the top seeded Denmark who start their campaign with a trip to Israel. This looks the most competitive group of the lot with four or five sides believing they have a chance to progress in the event. That makes for some good matches. One of those is Scotland against Austria in the two better sides in the group behind Denmark. The other match sees Moldova hosting the Faroe Islands.
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If you are of an English persuasion then your eyes will be fixed on this group on Thursday as the 2018 semi-finalists get their campaign up and running with what should be a formality of a starter against San Marino at Wembley Stadium. The next two best sides in the group meet elsewhere on Thursday when Hungary host a Poland side who are likely to be the biggest dangers to England in this section. The other match sees the minnows Andorra hosting Albania.
2014 World Cup winners Germany are the top seeds in the last of the groups on show on Thursday night. They get their campaign up and running with a clash against the next best team in the form of Iceland. Romania are probably the only other genuine qualification hopes in this group and they host a North Macedonia side who have made it through to Euro 2020 so probably shouldn’t be written off completely. Liechtenstein host Armenia in a battle of the minnows in the other match in this section.
There isn’t a huge amount that I like the look of over the course of the night on Thursday with some tricky matches to call or favourites that are up against minnows that I’m not really interested in getting involved in with all the football that there is to come. There is the one bet I like though which England fans will have an eye on even though it doesn’t involve the English team. It comes in one of the other matches in their group.
That is for Poland to beat Hungary. Both sides will have their eyes on making it through from this section but with a strong England team in the group they also know they can’t afford to lose this match. Unfortunately for Hungary they go into this match without one of their key players in classy Leipzig midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai. Poland stunk the place out in the last World Cup but they emphatically qualified for Euro 2020 and were competitive in a strong Nations League group earlier in the season. They look a good side still and while the elite of European football might be too good for them I think Lewandowski and friends have Hungary covered here.
Back Poland to beat Hungary for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Sky Bet