The winners of the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Groups have all been decided, and now it’s time for the best runner-ups to face-off against each other over two-legs to see who will join them in the World Cup Finals in Russia next year. We’ve tips for the TV matches between Northern Ireland and Switzerland, Spain and Italy, and Denmark and the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland vs Switzerland (Thursday 7.45, Sky Sports)
Betting Guide: Northern Ireland 9/2, Draw 9/4, Switzerland 13/10
Northern Ireland have already over-achieved in this competition, as they were only fourth favourites to qualify from a group that contained Germany (winners), Norway and the Czech Republic. However, after some great results at home, they find themselves facing a Swiss side that may be a little overrated having just failed to qualify as winners courtesy of having an inferior goal-difference to Portugal. Northern Ireland may not be good enough to qualify over two-legs, but I do think they can give themselves a fighting chance by winning this home match, and it may be worth taking a chance that they win in 1-0 just as they did in their previous two head-to-heads in 1964 and 1998.
Northern Ireland 1-0 @ 15/2 PaddyPower
Sweden vs Italy (Friday 7.45, Sky Sports)
Betting Guide: Sweden 5/2, Draw 11/5, Italy 10/7
Italy can count themselves unlucky to be drawn in a qualifying group with Spain, and did what they were expected to do in finishing second in a group that the big two dominated. They’ll also head into this tie in confident mood having won 4 and drawn 1 of their 5 matches against Sweden this century. Meanwhile, Sweden exceeded their qualifying expectations in finishing second behind France in a group that also included The Netherlands. Matches between the two teams have generally been low-scoring affairs, however Sweden were the highest-scorers in their group. Therefore, as Sweden will surely fail if they try and out-defend Italy, odds-against for both teams to score makes plenty of appeal.
Tip: Both Teams To Score @ 11/10 Betfair or WilliamHill
Denmark vs Republic Of Ireland (Saturday 7.45, Sky Sports)
Betting Guide: Denmark 7/9, Draw 13/5, Republic Of Ireland 5/1
There isn’t much between the two teams on previous meeting with the Republic Of Ireland winning 5 and Denmark winning 3 of their 13 matches, with 5 draws. However, it was the Republic Of Ireland who got the better of Denmark the last twice they met in friendlies in 2002 and 2007, winning 3-0 and 4-0. The Republic Of Ireland also showed they could win when the pressure was on with a win in Wales in their final group qualifier, and were actually unbeaten away from home throughout the group stages. Denmark also had some pretty good home results though, but a draw against Romania and a home defeat against Montenegro suggests they’re far from invincible. Therefore, the Republic Of Ireland may be good enough to at least get a draw.
Draw @ 13/5 Bet365