The international action continues all weekend as nations all over the world bid to book their place at the World Cup in Russia in 2018. After a clean sweep of results on Thursday night, thanks to Italy, Iceland and Ireland, we’re looking ahead to the games on Sunday and Monday to find the best bets in the European qualifiers. We’ve already given our tips for Friday and Saturday here, and we hope to continue the good form all weekend to build up the profits.
Italy held Spain to a 1-1 draw to land the double chance bet, while Seamus Coleman’s comedy goal gave Ireland a crucial 1-0 win over Georgia. The third of our bets on Thursday was landed courtesy of Iceland’s late show, where they went from 2-1 down to 3-2 up at the death against Finland. The Finns and the Irish feature in Sunday’s bets, and there’s a mouth-watering tie between Netherlands and France to look forward to on Monday night.
Netherlands v France
We start with that big match in Group A, where France are a shade overpriced at +150 with Betfred.
The French were 3-2 victors in Holland in a friendly just six months ago, when Matuidi’s late goal sealed a victory that should have been much easier. France had led 2-0 through early goals from Griezmann and Giroud, but the Dutch pegged them back with second half goals from de Jong and Afellay. Both teams drew their opening qualification games in September, and both will play on Friday night prior to this match-up. Holland secured a point in a 1-1 draw away in Sweden, while France were held to a 0-0 draw by Belarus despite battering their opponent for 90 minutes.
On Friday night the French play host to Bulgaria and Netherlands welcome Belarus – games both are expected to win. Having already dropped points from one game, neither side can afford too many slip ups in what is a tough section. Both Sweden and Bulgaria will provide stiff opposition for the top two places in this group.
It’s been a remarkable fall from grace for this Netherlands side that performed so well and finished third in the Brazil World Cup just two years ago. They failed dismally in qualification for the Euro’s and missed out on the finals altogether, despite the competition being increased to 24 teams. They’re currently on a run of five straight home defeats, and it appears there is a battle of nerves in front of their own supporters. USA, Iceland, Czech Republic and Greece have all been successful in Holland in recent games, and you have to go back as far as March 2-15 for their last home win.
France, on the other hand, have done little wrong since losing the final of the Euro’s to Portugal in extra time. A 3-1 friendly win in Italy showed they were over the hangover, and they did everything but put the ball in the net in the 0-0 draw in Belarus. They have arguably the best attacking options of all the European sides, and can make it a good weekend with a pair of wins over Bulgaria and Netherlands.
Finland v Croatia
There are few stand out games on Sunday, but one that does make appeal from a betting point of view is the Finland v Croatia fixture, where the Croats are good value at -163 with SkyBet, Betfred and Coral to claim all three points.
Finland were on the verge of a great away win in Iceland as they led 2-1 going into injury-time, but late goals from Finnbogason and Sigurdsson turned the result on its head to give the Icelandic side a thrilling victory. It may seem risky to back against the Finns with that in mind, but the result brought up a run of 7 defeats and 4 draws from their last 11 internationals. Their prior World Cup qualifier in September saw them draw 1-1 at home to Kosovo – a side that Croatia battered 6-0 away last week.
Croatia were many pundits’ dark horses for Euro 2016, but they were undone by Portugal’s stout defending as they lost to a late extra-time goal to the eventual champions in the quarter finals. Their opening qualifier was a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Turkey, but the 6-0 smashing of Kosovo put them back on track. If they are to justify favouritism for this group, they should be beating sides like Finland.
Moldova v Republic of Ireland
A 2-2 draw away in Serbia in their first group game, was followed by the 1-0 home win over Georgia in which Seamus Coleman bundled over the line in comedic fashion. That’s given them a healthy four points from two games, but they share that total with three group rivals – Wales, Serbia and Austria. It’s a tough group with any of those four capable of winning it, and anyone wishing to qualify for Russia 2018 will be able to afford few mistakes.
After going out of Euro 2016 to France, Ireland thumped Oman 4-0 in Robbie Keane’s farewell international, before recording that very creditable draw in Serbia. Moldova meanwhile, have lost four internationals on the trot, including a 4-0 defeat to Wales and a 3-0 defeat to Serbia in this qualifying campaign. They’ve also lost 9 of the last 11 home internationals, and if Ireland have serious pretensions of qualifying for the next World Cup, this is a must-win game.
France to beat Netherlands
Monday 10th October, 19:45 GMT
Croatia to beat Finland
Sunday 9th October, 17:00 GMT
Republic of Ireland to beat Moldova
Sunday 9th October, 19:45 GMT