In the absence of the Premier League this weekend we turn our attentions to the World Cup with Europe and much of the world reaching what an old, red-faced former manager called “squeaky bum time”.
Things aren’t quite so squeaky for Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the first two nations fighting just to avoid finishing bottom of Group A, Ireland likely to finish fourth in Group C and their Northern counterparts in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon in Group F. It has not been a vintage qualifying campaign for these isles.
England are doing what England tend to do and under-performing but getting by. Despite having been unable to beat any side other than minnows Moldova and San Marino they are – theoretically at least – in pole position to qualify from Group H. With two home games to come they face rivals Montenegro and Poland knowing that two wins will see them through.
As said, they are yet to beat a “real” side and their success is far from a foregone conclusion but they are currently priced at just 2/5 withBetVictor to beat Montenegro on Friday. With their attacking options restored to full strength they should have enough to get past the opposition, especially if one or both of Montenegro’s stars – Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic – are passed fit to play.
Elsewhere Portugal host Israel needing a win to keep pace with Russia in Group F and they should just have enough but the bet there is both teams to score, with Israel the top scorers in the group. Portugal’s defence is average, making odds of 11/8 with bet365 for both to register outstanding value.
Perhaps the biggest game of the night sees Belgium travel to Croatia, the hosts needing a win to have any hope of topping the group. The teams drew 1-1 in Belgium and another draw seems a good call here at 11/5 with BetVictor.