Sweden Can Repeat Qualifying Win Over Bulgaria

Sweden beat Bulgaria 3-0 in last October's World Cup qualifier.

Sweden beat Bulgaria 3-0 in last October's World Cup qualifier.

A full week of international World Cup qualifiers are on the agenda this week, and while domestic football may be missed, there’s plenty of betting action to get stuck into. The European qualifiers start in earnest on Thursday night and continue until next Tuesday, and we’ll be looking for the best bets on each day.

With six of the qualifying games for Russia 2018 already played, we are already approaching the business end of the campaign and there is little margin for error. Most countries will play two games in August and September followed by another two in October, by which time the European places will be confirmed. Belgium and Portugal are among the teams in action on Thursday night, although both are incredibly short odds against minnows of the international game, Gibraltar and Faroe Islands respectively. France and Holland are also in action against each other in the pick of the night’s games – preview here.

Delving deeper into the fixture list highlights some interesting games in groups A and H. Only the first placed side is guaranteed a place at Russia 2018, with the runner up in each group entering into a play off round. France are hot favourites to take 1st place in group A, which means the likes of Netherlands, Sweden and Bulgaria are set to fight it out for 2nd spot. The latter pair play each other on Thursday evening, and the Swedes are a fair bet to repeat their 3-0 qualifying win from last October when they visit Bulgaria.

In group H Belgium are in pole position to wrap up the automatic qualifying spot, with Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina battling for second. They play against Estonia and Cyprus respectively, and anything less than three points will prove highly damaging to their qualification credentials.

Bulgaria v Sweden 

The headline bet is Sweden, who are fairly priced at -120  with SkyBet to do the double over Bulgaria.

The retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had little effect on the Swedish side, who currently lead France in group A on goal difference after four wins, one draw and one defeat. One of those wins was the 2-1 defeat of the French – a game in which Hugo Lloris gifted the Swedes a 93rd minute winner with an uncharacteristic mistake.

Their defeat was in the return fixture against France, and the draw was a 1-1 home stalemate against the Dutch. With an away trip to Holland to come, it means that Sweden cannot afford to slip up against the other sides in the group – Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg. So far they’ve beaten each of those sides, as well as recording impressive friendly wins against Portugal and Slovakia.

Bulgaria have recorded home wins against an out-of-sorts Netherlands, Belarus and Luxembourg in this qualifying campaign, but have been comfortably beaten away at Sweden, France and Belarus. That home record is something Sweden will have to overcome, but if the Dutch lose as expected in France, the Swedish will be aware that three points here will open up a six-point gap over Netherlands – one which may prove too big to close.

Greece v Estonia

At shorter odds Greece are also fancied to bag three points when they host Estonia at -227  with Winner Sports and 188Bet.

A resurgent Greece are second behind Belgium in group H, and are unbeaten so far in this campaign with three wins and three draws to their name. That’s in stark contrast to a terrible Euro 2016 qualification run, and they should be too good for Estonia on Thursday night as they bid for 2nd place in the group.

The Estonians have lost four games, and have gathered just four points from a win over Gibraltar and a draw with Cyprus. That gives an indication of their level on the international stage, and Greece ought to be too strong on home soil.

Cyprus v Bosnia & Herzegovina

In the same group Bosnia & Herzegovina are -189  with Bet365 and Betfred to win away at Cyprus.

Bosnia are one point behind Greece in the group – they have played each other twice, drawing on both occasions. The battle for second could go right to the wire between the two teams, but the Bosnians will know that anything less than three points here will hand the initiative to Greece.

Cyprus have seven points in this campaign, but six of those have come from two wins over Gibraltar, the other from a 0-0 draw with Estonia. The small nation will always struggle on the international stage, and come up against a side here with a smattering of real quality. Bosnia can count on the likes of Edin Dzeko among others, and possess enough quality to go away with the points.

Tips Summary

Sweden to beat Bulgaria
Thursday 31st August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -120

Greece to beat Estonia
Thursday 31st August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -227

Bosnia & Herzegovina to beat Cyprus
Thursday 31st August, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -189