The group stage of the World Cup qualifiers in Europe come to an end on Tuesday night and still we need to determine the last two automatic qualifiers for the finals in Russia next season. Four sides can occupy those two slots and we have one cracking match in prospect at least on what is bound to be every bit as dramatic an evening as the last two have been.
This is one of the groups which is yet to determine who will automatically qualify for Russia. France have their destiny in their own hands. If they beat Belarus they will be through to the World Cup. If they slip up then Sweden will qualify if they can win in the Netherlands. Netherlands can make the play-offs if they can take care of Sweden by seven goals. Luxembourg host Bulgaria in what is a dead rubber.
The other group where the qualifier is still to be decided is this group and we have a winner takes all showdown to find out who goes through to Russia when Portugal host the currently perfect Switzerland. A Portugal win sends them to the finals and Switzerland will need the play-offs. If Switzerland avoid defeat Portugal will need the second chance. Hungary host Faroes Islands and Latvia face Andorra in the other matches in the group.
Mathematically it is the play-off spot that is still up for grabs in this group although with Greece having a two point lead over Bosnia-Herzegovina and hosting Gibraltar on Tuesday night it would be a huge surprise if it isn’t the former European champions who progress. If they fail to beat Gibraltar the door would be open for Bosnia-Herzegovina when they head to Estonia. Belgium are already in the finals and they end their campaign at home to Cyprus.
I’m going with two to finish what has been a successful week in these things apart from Wales on Monday night. I’m with Portugal in the big game of the evening. When push comes to shove Cristiano Ronaldo usually finds it in himself to deliver the goods and with the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Quaresma and Andre Silva in attacking areas too I just expect them to have too much for the Swiss. Switzerland have been excellent in this campaign but they are in the tricky position of getting stuck playing for a draw rather than trying to win. Portugal must win and that clarity of mind can ensure they do win.
I also expect Belgium to round off their campaign with an emphatic win. We’ve seen already in these second matches how minnows struggle to play two big matches in a matter of days and unfortunately for Cyprus, Belgium are going to have a completely fresh Romelu Lukaku back for this one. Belgium won by three in Cyprus at the start of the group. I expect them to win by more than that to finish it.
WON – Back Portugal (-1AH) to beat Switzerland for a 4/10 stake at 2.04 with NetBet
WON – Back Belgium (-3AH) to beat Cyprus for a 4/10 stake at 1.90 with Bet365
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