The final round of World Cup qualifying matches begin in Europe on Sunday evening when three groups draw to a close across the continent. Many of the qualification spots in the groups in focus on Sunday have been secured but there are play-off places up for grabs which will add to the intrigue of the night.
Germany’s win over Northern Ireland on Thursday night ensured they have qualified to defend their title but they can have a victory lap if you like when they host Azerbaijan. Northern Ireland are assured of second spot and will be guaranteed a play-off place if they beat Norway while the other match sees Czech Republic and San Marino finishing their campaigns in Prague.
This is the group which still has the qualifying spot at stake. Poland will secure it is they avoid defeat when they host Montenegro. If they slip up and lose then Denmark will steal the spot in Russia if they can find the win when they host Romania. Kazakhstan host Armenia in what is a dead rubber for both in the other game.
England successfully qualified for Russia when they beat Slovenia late on at Wembley on Thursday night and they finish their campaign when they head to Lithuania. Scotland moved into second spot when they beat Slovakia and will book themselves a play-off spot should they see off Slovenia on Sunday. If the Scots don’t win then Slovakia will finish second should they come past Malta in what looks a penalty kick for them.
I’m loading up with bets on Sunday. I’m taking three in the home nations matches and one elsewhere. England are absolutely nothing special but they are a good qualifying side and having landed a punt on them to win to nil on Thursday I expect the same bet to return when they take on a Lithuania side who couldn’t even beat Malta in their last game. England will play better now the pressure is off and with Dele Alli back they can win without conceding.
We saw at Wembley the other night that Slovenia are nothing special so I fully expect Scotland to get the win that they need. Scotland have improved as this group has gone along and they know they have to win to secure a play-off spot. It might not be convincing but with Slovenia knowing they are done I expect Scotland to win but given how tense it might be we can play slightly safe and take them draw no bet.
Northern Ireland head to Norway on Sunday evening knowing that they need to avoid defeat to be guaranteed a play-off spot. I think they will get at least a draw but I’m expecting them to win especially with Norway being without their key man Josh King who has picked up an injury. Only Germany have beaten Northern Ireland in this campaign and indeed they are the only side to score against them too. Norway have not beaten anyone other than San Marino and Azerbaijan in this group. I don’t see that changing.
Germany can celebrate their qualification in style when they host Azerbaijan in their final match. Azerbaijan were beaten by the Czech Republic on Thursday night which isn’t the best form guide and I’m expecting them to take a bit of a hiding here. We don’t need to worry if Joachim Low makes changes as we saw their second string win the Confederations Cup earlier in the year. Whichever XI goes out to play Germany should canter to a win.
WON – Back England to win to nil for a 4/10 stake at 1.95 with William Hill
PUSH – Back Scotland to beat Slovenia (0AH) for a 4/10 stake at 1.90 with Bet365
Back Northern Ireland (+0.25AH) to beat Norway for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
WON – Back Germany (-3.5AH) to beat Azerbaijan for a 4/10 stake at 1.89 with Bet365
Back them here: