With a number of teams now definitely qualified for next summer’s World Cup, there are fewer games with something at play. Of course, there is always pride to play for and that is definitely a factor but with the majority of a long season still to be played, players wouldn’t be human if they didn’t start thinking about potential injuries.
Italy slipped up against Macedonia on Friday and that gave Spain the chance to take control of this group. They play away against Albania on Monday night and a win or a draw will see them take second place in the group for their own. Albania have surprised many over the last few years (including myself) but they have never picked up a point or even scored goal against Italy in a competitive match. The odds are low but it seems like a straightforward win is what is expected from Italy. Pinnacle are slightly ahead of the rest of the market at 1.61 for an Italy win. I’d even be prepared to stretch that to Italy -1 in the Asian handicap market where you can get 2.1 with Pinnacle or 2.08 with bet365.
Finland v Turkey is one of those games that could go either way. Finland have seen mixed results this campaign and Turkey have lost 2 out of their last 3. This could be a World Cup too early for Turkey, they’ve got some good young players coming through and I think they’ll be qualifying for competitions in the future, maybe not this one though. Turkey still have a chance and I’d like to see them win. I’m not betting on it though, instead, I’m going for over 2 goals at 1.77 with Pinnacle.
Because of a lack of value, I’m forced to skip over a number of matches in this round, including Iceland v Kosovo, Israel v Spain and Moldova v Austria. I’d be tempted to put all of the favourites in those games for an accumulator but I’m not advising it as a bet
Croatia have not impressed as much as I thought they would in this qualifying campaign. They’ve stumbled at times and they’re still not guaranteed to be present in Russia next summer. They need a win against Ukraine who still have a chance themselves. This could be a tight nervy game but I think the class will come through. I’m backing Croatia to win at odds of 2.69 with Pinnacle.
Wales v Ireland is the game I’ll be watching Monday night. It’s been a good qualifying campaign for both sides and it all comes down to this one match. I’m putting no money on this so I’ll be able to enjoy it without looking for a particular result.