An important week of World Cup qualifying begins on Thursday. At the end of the upcoming six days we will know the majority of the European qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia next summer and for many sides in action on Thursday the stakes are incredibly high.
Three groups play their penultimate match in the campaign on Thursday night with two groups in particular still having plenty to decide so we should be in for a really competitive night of football.
We begin with Group C where there is an early kick off as the improving Azerbaijan host a Czech Republic side who have disappointed in this campaign. The match of the night sees the top two in the table meeting in Belfast where Germany will secure their passage to Russia if they avoid defeat to Northern Ireland. The home side can keep their automatic hopes alive with a win while San Marino host Norway in a dead rubber in the other game.
The stakes are high for three teams in this group and two of them meet in the big match of the night when Montenegro host Denmark. The winner of that will be all but assured of a play-off spot and could yet qualify automatically. The losers will be done so it is almost knockout football there. Earlier in the evening the leaders Poland head to Armenia knowing two wins over the next four days will see them safely to Russia. Romania host Kazakhstan in the other match.
England can secure their qualification for Russia with a match to spare if they can beat Slovenia at Wembley Stadium. Two sides looking to secure a play-off spot meet at Hampden Park when Scotland take on Slovakia in a match the Scots have to win to have any chance of coming second. Malta play host to Lithuania in another dead rubber on the evening.
I like two bets on the course of the evening. There might be a time later in the week where I get involved in the dead rubbers but here I am focusing on two very much live encounters. The first of which is at Wembley Stadium.
England will go through if they beat Slovenia and I fully expect them to do that. Slovenia are still in the hunt for a play-off spot and need to win to keep that aim realistic but they are a limited side whose record is padded by a couple of wins over Malta, unconvincing wins too it must be said. They failed to score in Scotland and in Slovakia in this group and I don’t see them scoring here so England winning to nil is the call in this one.
In the other big match I think Denmark are getting underrated against Montenegro. Denmark have really hit form this season having taken Poland and Armenia for four in their two matches last month. The destruction of Poland was particularly appealing and probably the standout result in the group. I don’t see either playing for a draw here but we have draw cover on the Danes which makes them a good bet against a side who ultimately I believe are punching above their weight.
WON – Back England to win to nil for a 4/10 stake at 1.93 with BetVictor
WON – Back Denmark (-0.25AH) to beat Montenegro for a 4/10 stake at 1.87 with Bet365
Back them here: