Get Ready for Another Netherlands Goal Fest

Netherlands need a huge win over Sweden to qualify for Russia 2018.

Several of the World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday night are typical ‘damp squibs’ as the issues in various groups have already been settled. Those games – such as Belgium v Cyprus and France v Belarus – are easily avoided as the big sides have long since qualified and may use the games to blood youngsters and rotate squads.

There are two games on the night however, which have a real competitive edge to them, and those are the ones to concentrate on as teams battle it out to reach the World Cup in Russia next year. In group A the Netherlands and Sweden are vying for 2nd place behind France, and they meet on Dutch soil to fight it out. Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat reacted angrily when questioned about goal difference, saying about Sweden’s match against Luxembourg, “They won’t win 8-0”. Sweden duly won 8-0 to leave egg on the face of the experienced manager. The upshot of that result is that the Dutch now need a seven-goal win over Sweden in order to overtake them and snatch that play off place.

In group B Portugal and Switzerland are assured of first and second, but tonight’s meeting in Portugal will decide who qualifies automatically and who takes the runner-up spot and a place in the play offs. Switzerland hold the upper hand going into the game as they lead the Portuguese by three points, but the European champions have the superior goal difference already, so any Portugal victory tonight will see them take top spot from the Swiss.

Netherlands v Sweden

If there’s one thing that has been a feature of Dutch international football in the last few years, it’s been goals at both ends. Bearing in mind the circumstances of Tuesday’s game, a bet on over 3.5 goals at +125   with Bet365 is the first recommendation.

It could also  be well worth a punt on over 4.5 goals at a great price of +320   with 888Sport.

Sweden currently sit second in the group with 19 points and a goal difference of +19 (scored 26, conceded 7). Netherlands are on 16 points but have a goal difference of +7 (scored 19, conceded 12). The format of these groups is that teams finishing level on points are separated by goal difference first, and by goals scored second. If Netherlands win and draw level on 19 points, they would require a seven-goal win to take their goal difference to +14 and reduce Sweden’s goal difference to +12. A six-goal victory wouldn’t swing things in favour of the Dutch because although in that scenario both teams would have a +13 goal difference, Sweden would still edge ahead on goals scored.

The upshot of all that is that Netherlands have little option but to go hell for leather for a huge win in order to achieve a ‘miracle’ result. They are expected to be on the front foot from the off, and may well leave themselves very exposed defensively. There have been at least four goals in each of the Netherlands last five international fixtures, and that was without the unique circumstances they play under on Tuesday.

Sweden will fancy their chances of getting away without a seven-goal defeat for sure! Since the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the fate of the Swedish national side was uncertain but they have created a strong team ethic in his absence and are deservedly on the cusp of World Cup qualification. Two 4-0 wins over Belarus and that 8-0 thrashing of Luxembourg have given their goal difference a positive edge, but they have also recorded a 6-0 win over Slovakia in a friendly and a 2-1 win over France in qualification. The Swedes have scored in every fixture since exiting Euro 2016 at the group stage, and can make their presence felt as Netherlands leave gaps at the back.

Portugal v Switzerland

The other ultra-competitive tie is the match between Portugal and Switzerland, in what is a straight play off for top spot in the table. This one could be a much tighter affair and odds of -120   with BetVictor about under 2.5 goals make fair appeal.

Switzerland have been hugely impressive in this qualification campaign, winning all nine fixtures so far with a goals difference of 23 scored to 5 conceded. They thumped Hungary 5-2 over the weekend to maintain their three-point lead at the top of group B, and a draw would be sufficient to see them take the automatic spot.

Portugal have also impressed throughout qualification. Since losing 2-0 in Switzerland in their opener and first competitive game since winning Euro 2016, they have won all eight qualifiers and are three points adrift of the Swiss. The Portuguese goal difference of scored 30, conceded 4 is even better than Switzerland’s. For Ronaldo and co. a victory on Tuesday would see them snatch first place at the death.

Despite their free-scoring nature in qualifying, Portugal won Euro 2016 through defensive organisation and solidity against a high calibre of opposition. They are fancied to adopt a similar approach here in the knowledge that once chance may be all they need to win the game. Switzerland may also play a pragmatic game, in the knowledge that a goalless draw would see them through, and it would be a surprise to see the Swiss commit too many men forward at any time. In contrast to the other match, this could be a game of few chances, where one goal makes the difference.

Tips Summary

Netherlands v Sweden – Over 4.5 goals
Tuesday 10th October, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +125

Netherlands v Sweden – Over 4.5 goals
Tuesday 10th October, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +320

Portugal v Switzerland – Under 2.5 goals
Tuesday 10th October, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -120

Russia 2018
World Cup Qualifiers

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