European qualifiers – 4 to watch

This entry was posted on Monday, November 18th, 2013

Iceland have never had it so good. A hit TV series on BBC1 and now a genuine chance of making the World Cup. Expect discounts in the frozen aisle section come Wednesday morning if events in Zagreb go their way.

And so they might. The tiny country with a population of roughly 11 people fought bravely (including 40 minutes with ten men) to keep Croatia at 0-0 in the first leg and we think that’s a good enough platform for them to mount a serious shock. The Croats have just two goals from their last five competitive games and with a new coach and a nervous home crowd we wouldn’t go anywhere near the 4/11 best priced offer on the home side winning from Bet365. Instead we’ll go with the relative minnows – Iceland at an eye catching 4.6 to qualify on Betfair. Don’t rule out another 0-0 draw at 8/1 with Bet365. Under 2.5 goals appeals at 7/10 with Bet365.

Portugal edged out Sweden 1-0 in their opening leg in Lisbon on Friday but at just 1.27 to qualify from the tie on Betfair we have to consider the Swedes as the value. The Portuguese blew their biggest away trip of the group losing in Russia, whilst only a last minute comeback saw them salvage a point against an average Israeli outfit in Tel Aviv. Sweden have 11 goals in their last four home games and Zlatan surely has to make his mark on this tie. We have to lay Portugal on Betfair.

Greece arrive into their second leg with Romania on the back of an impressive seven game winning streak, although further inspection reveals victories over Lithuania, Austria, Liechetenstein (twice), Latvia and Slovakia. However, even on the road they’ve lost just once in their last eight games and that includes wins in Austria, Ireland and Norway. Romania may well win on the night, but we don’t think they can come through overall. With Greece’s defensive record surely in mind, under 2.5 goals is priced at 1.6 but on a night where ‘winner takes all’ that surely has to become a lay given how much attacking the home side will have to do.

Of course the final game of the European qualifiers sees France desperately looking to overturn an atrocious first leg defeat in Ukraine. Losing 2-0 does not put Les Bleus out of contention and they are no bigger than 2/1 to make it to Brazil. Ukraine are unbeaten in 12 games and haven’t lost a game by two goals, since, you guessed it – France beat them 2-0 back in Euro 2012. Ukraine haven’t conceded three or more goals in a World Cup Qualifier since Germany beat them 4-1 in November 2001 which bodes well for the away side. In fact it’s 550 minutes since Ukraine last let in a competitive goal and a slow start in Paris seems to be the bet. We’ll back 0-0 at Half Time at 2.92 on Betfair.

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