Neutrals were left disappointed in the two intercontinental playoffs as Honduras v Australia and New Zealand v Peru both finished goalless. Wednesday sees the second legs of both ties, which are teetering on a knife edge and could go either way, and we have analysed them both in a bid to find value:
Australia v Honduras
Australia will be proud of their performance in Central America on Friday as they battled to a 0-0 draw against a team that finished fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, ahead of the USA. They did so without Tim Cahill, their record goal-scorer, after he suffered an ankle injury. Cahill put Syria to the sword in the previous playoff round with two crucial goals, and the Socceroos will hope to have him back for the reverse fixture in Sydney this week. The lack of an away goal could hurt them as they will need to score twice if they concede on Wednesday. However, they played well in the first leg and rarely looked troubled. They are now the 4/9 favourites with Paddy Power, Sky Bet and Boyle Sports to qualify and that will tempt many as they will be cheered on by a boisterous home crowd. Australia have a solid midfield in Mile Jedinak and Aaron Mooy, and will be bolstered further if 39-year-old Cahill returns. Honduras looked a little toothless in the first leg and will need to find more spark, pace and vitality in the final third if they are to reach a third consecutive World Cup. They are now as long as 19/10 with Betway to qualify from this tie, and they have a lot of work to do if they are to pull it off. Neither team has a top striker and this is highly likely to be another tight, cagey, low-scoring affair, so under 2.5 goals looks a really good option at 8/11 with Paddy Power and other best green listed bookmakers.
Peru v New Zealand
Peru are ranked 10th in the world by FIFA and pulled off some magnificent results against the likes of Argentina and Uruguay to make it to these playoffs. They finished ahead of Copa America champions Chile in the group stage and are blessed with a wealth of attacking talent, so it was a real shock that they failed to win the first leg in New Zealand. Anthony Hudson’s men are 122nd in the world, a massive 112 places behind Peru, but they were dogged and resolute in the face of heavy pressure from the South Americans at the Wellington Regional Stadium, and they have a creditable draw to show for it. Again, Peru might rue their inability to get an away goal, but they are still well placed to qualify for the World Cup by securing an aggregate win against New Zealand. The best price on offer for the Peruvians is just 1/7 with Betway, while many bookmakers will not go any better than 1/10. New Zealand, meanwhile, are out at a massive 7/1 with 10Bet, and that could well tempt a few punters as New Zealand did not play badly in their first leg. New Zealand withstood great pressure and Stefan Marinovic was forced into making some smart saves, but they almost nicked it at the death when midfielder Ryan Thomas flashed a shot just wide of the post. They will be boosted by the return of star striker Chris Wood, who plays for Burnley in the Premiership, as he came on as a sub in the first leg following a hamstring injury. He worked Pedro Gallese with his first touch and made New Zealand far more dangerous. They are certainly underdogs but this tie is not beyond them and the only team with any value is Hudson’s. However, if you think Peru will assert their superiority in front of their home fans, Peru -1.75 Asian handicap is 13/14 with 10Bet.