Four more European nations will join the 26 teams that have already qualified for the World Cup 2018 in Russia. Let’s break down the European playoffs 2nd leg and find the best value bets.
Greece vs. Croatia
Croatia are huge favourites in their playoff tie against Greece heading into the 2nd leg full of confidence after their superb 4-1 home victory. It will be very tough for Greece to make a comeback after not being able to maintain a low scoring match in the 1st leg and having just three shots on target. They were totally dominated by an impressive Croatian side being very lucky to score an away goal. In their group stage fixtures, Greece managed to score three or more goals in just 2 occasions, both against Gibraltar, so we expect them not to be able to overcome the 1st leg result and qualify further. Croatia conceded just four goals in Group I and will need to hold on to a lead and why not push for a 2nd leg win taking advantage of the huge spaces in the Greek defense. Best pick for the match: Croatia to win at 2.15 with Betfair.
Switzerland vs. Northern Ireland
Switzerland were unlucky not to qualify automatically for the World Cup in Russia having a great record in the group stage but losing their last match against Portugal. They are in the driver seat now winning the 1st leg away in Northern Ireland thanks to a second-half penalty. The hosts have won their last 6 home matches keeping a clean sheet in 5 of them. Given their current form, Switzerland are huge favourites to book their World Cup spot by dominating the match and winning also the 2nd leg. We expect a tight match without many opportunities of scoring in which the hosts will have a cautious approach trying not to concede. Best pick for the match: Under 2.25 goals AH at 1.76 with Unibet.
Italy vs. Sweden
Despite controlling the 1st leg by having the possession imposing their style and putting pressure on their opponents, Italy were unable to find the back of the net and more than that they lost the match 1-0 with a deflected shot. Sweden’s main objective is to keep the clean sheet and to defend the best way they can, but we don’t expect them to be able to qualify further. Italy have all the necessary weapons to book their place at World Cup and win this home leg. They have the best defense in Europe with Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini and huge firepower in their attack with Serie A’s top score Ciro Immobile being on fire. The hosts are priced at 1.55 with the green-listed bookmaker Betfair to win this match. We can stick this bet in an accumulator but for more value we will go with Italy to qualify. Best pick for the match: Italy to qualify at 2.0 with Betfair.
Ireland vs. Denmark
Ireland did what was expected from them in the 1st leg, being really organized in their defense, parking the bus and holding Denmark to a goalless draw. Ireland are eager to qualify for their 1st World Cup since 2002 but in order to earn a spot they should find the back of the net, not just defend and wait for an attacking chance. The 1st leg’s Man Of The Match was Ireland’s goalkeeper Darren Randolph with a superb performance, keeping hopes for his national squad to book their World Cup place. We expect Denmark to push for an away goal and qualify further as they are the better side. Best pick for the match: Denmark to qualify at 1.74 with Unibet.