Spain Can Entertain in Italy Qualification Victory

Spain and Italy meet in World Cup qualification on Saturday.

Spain and Italy meet in World Cup qualification on Saturday.

It was a successful night for both England and Scotland in Friday’s World Cup qualifiers, and it’s the turn of Republic of Ireland and Wales on Saturday as they stake their claims in group D. However, the match of the night by far is surely the clash of the heavyweights Spain and Italy.

You wouldn’t need to be a fortune teller to have predicted the outcome of the two games between these two giants would settle group G, and that is exactly how it has panned out. Italy and Spain are locked together on 16 points at the head of affairs after five wins apiece and a 1-1 draw on Italian soil. The Spaniards have the slight upper hand on goal difference, having scored three more and conceded one less than Italy, but the honour of group winner is more than likely to rest on the result of Saturday’s game. With only one team qualifying directly the stakes couldn’t be higher, and one of these two will be required to navigate a play off round after finishing runner up in the group.

A runner up spot would be more than welcome for Wales in group D, where they trail leaders Serbia and Ireland by four points. Remarkably Chris Coleman’s side have drawn five of six qualifiers so far, winning just once, but stalemates will not be enough to see them finish in the top two of a very competitive group. The Welsh face Austria on Saturday night at home, and nothing less than three points will be good enough. Coleman has gone as far as saying he thinks that Wales need to win each of their last four in order to stand a chance of qualification.

Spain v Italy

Our first bet is on Spain to win an entertaining match in which both teams score. The best odds on such an outcome are +375  with Bet365.

The previous encounter in the group ended 1-1 last October, with Italy having to come from behind with a late penalty to snatch a share of the spoils. The Spanish had 64% of possession over the course of 90 minutes and it will be a similar story on Saturday night. Italy will provide stern opposition though, as they are in fine form on the international stage.

The Italian side is on a run of five straight victories in competitive and friendly matches, and hasn’t tasted defeat since a 3-1 reverse to France last September. They’ve only failed to score once in eleven games since Euro 2016 and have smashed in 16 goals in the last three games against San Marino, Uruguay, and Liechtenstein. One suspects that they will need to score here in order to get a result, as it is unlikely they can keep the Spanish at bay for the full 90 minutes.

Spain have been equally impressive since the Euro’s last year. They are unbeaten in ten matches and haven’t failed to score in any of them. This match can very easily be classified as the battle to top the group, and Spain will expect to do the business on home soil.

Wales v Austria

Wales are a decent price at +125  with Bet365 and it is worth taking a chance that they can make home advantage pay against Austria.

After their incredible Euro 2016 campaign Wales scored a 4-0 win in the first qualifier against Moldova, and it looked like their resurgence would continue. However, five draws since then have cast doubt on their chances of qualifying for Russia 2018, and as Coleman intimated the last chance saloon edges ever closer.

At least in that run of five draws they have played away at each of their main rivals, and the last qualifier against Ireland in October is shaping up to be a winner takes all bout. However, for that to materialise Wales need to beat Austria, Moldova and Georgia, starting with the Austrians on Saturday night. Serbia and Ireland are both on twelve points while Austria and Wales are locked together on 8 points. A game which is being billed as a must-win for Wales, is equally important for Austria in their attempts to qualify.

The stakes are high enough for either team to throw caution to the wind depending on how the match pans out, and odds of +138  with Marathonbet and BetVictor about over 2.5 goals might be regretted by the bookmakers.

Wales twice took the lead and were twice pegged back in the 2-2 draw in Austria in October, but home advantage might just see the Welsh come out on top.

Tips Summary

Spain to win and Both teams to score
Saturday 2nd September, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +375

Wales to beat Austria
Saturday 2nd September, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +125

Wales v Austria – Over 2.5 goals
Saturday 2nd September, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +138