World Cup Qualifying is the focus of this week’s football, and it starts on Thursday night as Wales travel to Austria, and the Republic of Ireland play host to Georgia. On Saturday, it’s the turn of Northern Ireland who will be looking to make the most of home advantage as they take on likely Group C whipping boys San Marino, whilst Scotland also take on Lithuania in Group F. England also take on Malta in Group F on Saturday, though we’ll be bringing you a full preview of that match at weekend.
Austria vs Wales (Thursday 7.45pm)
Austria aren’t the easiest team to weigh-up, as they were fantastic in their 2016 Euros Qualifying Campaign, but were woeful at the finals as they took just one-point from a group they should have qualified from, though that was amazingly against eventual winners Portugal. Meanwhile, Wales did best of the Home Nations at the 2016 Euros Finals, notching-up wins against Russia, Northern Ireland and Belgium before succumbing to Portugal in the semi-finals when suspension and injury forced them to field a weakened side. Both teams started their 2018 World Cup Qualifying Campaign with a victory but, at the prices, I’d sooner back Wales to come out on top at 5/2.
Wales To Win @ 5/2
Republic Of Ireland vs Georgia (Thursday 7.45pm)
Republic of Ireland could only secure a draw away to Serbia in their opening qualifying game, but that was still better than Georgia who lost at home to Austria. The Republic of Ireland have also won the last 4 renewals of this fixture, 3 of which were to nil. ROI have also won 2 of their last 4 games to nil, and the even-money for that result looks the value.
Republic Of Ireland To Win To Nil @ Even-Money (Various Bookies)
Northern Ireland vs San Marino (Saturday 7.45pm)
San Marino have scored just once in their last 6 games, and the Northern Ireland defence should be capable of keeping them at bay. If that’s the case, it’s a matter of how many you think Northern Ireland are capable of scoring – and I’ll take a wild guess at 4, though San Marino have been beaten 6-0, 7-0 and 10-0 recently.
Northern Ireland To Win 4-0 at 5/1
Scotland vs Lithuania (Saturday 7.45pm)
Scotland may be odds-on to beat Lithuania, but the Lithuanians have been improving slowly, and have scored in 3 of their last 4 games. Scotland, despite missing out on qualifying for the 2016 Euros, have won 4 of their last 6 matches, but did concede a goal to Malta. It’s 8/5 that both teams score – and I’ll take that risk.
Both Teams To Score @ 8/5