European Qualification Play-offs Preview – Ireland v France Highlight

20th October 2009 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Previews & Predictions

The draw has taken place for the World Cup European Qualifier playoffs in Zurich, Switzerland. The top eight runners-up from European Qualifying was separated into four seeded, and four non-seeded teams for the draw. The seeded teams, as based on FIFA rankings were: Portugal, France, Greece and Russia. The Non-seeded teams were the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Bosnia and Ukraine. The matches for these two-leg qualifying games will take place on November 14th and 18th.

IRELAND v FRANCE

A tasty match up for Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland side. The Irish were unbeaten during qualifying, including two draws against the Italians. The French could not find a way to topple the impressive Serbia at the top of their Group. This will give them great heart, as the French are unquestionably a good side, but they are beatable. The draw was favourable to the Irish, giving them home advantage first on the 14th. This is where they will need to capitalise, and hope to head back across the English Channel a few days later with an advantage they can hold on to. The Irish are somewhat of a formidable and stubborn side at home, and their hopes could all rest on how fired up they will be in the first leg. They have to go at the French, and go hard. The Irish are ranked 34th in the World, a long way down from the French in 9th. But none of that will matter on the night, when a place in South Africa 2010 is up for grabs.

PORTUGAL v BOSNIA

Much has been made of Portugal’s qualifying struggles. While they could not seem to find the winning touch early on, and survived some matches by the skin of their teeth, they finished runner’s-up on merit, but only because Sweden couldn’t manage to hold off Denmark in what was a crucial deciding game. That defeat for the Swedes opened the door to a remarkable qualifying comeback for Portugal, who had the easier finish to group qualifying. This could be the most interesting match, as it promises a lot of goals. Portugal seems to have negotiated its way through a period of transition, but Bosnia have one of the strongest and most potent strike forces in Europe. They can score goals, and will probably stand up well toe-to-toe with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Bosnia have nothing to lose being the underdogs, and while they finished a long way back of Spain in qualifying, they have the potential to undo all of Portugal’s hard work in trying to get to the World Cup 2010. They will need their temperament to be right on the night though.

GREECE v UKRAINE
Just reading that fixture sounds like it is going to be a tight battle. They both conjure up pictures of teams which are hard to beat, working as tight, efficient units without giving anything away. It was to some surprise that Greece didn’t emerge victors in a tight Group, but Switzerland had more staying power in the end, and Greece had to battle somewhat down to the wire just to get to this stage. Ukraine were the only team to beat England in qualification, and that came in a pressure game in which they needed to win to leap frog Croatia into second place. That they did, and a good run of form at the end saw them into the runner’s-up playoffs. They have the iconic Andriy Shevchenko leading them, and this will be the tightest game in the play-offs, where it is genuinely hard to pick a winner.

RUSSIA v SLOVENIA
Both could have won their groups but fell just short when it mattered most. Slovenia did manage to beat Slovakia, who won the group, home and away, but it was their results in March, a draw and a defeat which undid their hopes of finishing top. They are a neat side, well organised, but could be undone by a lack of goal scoring power. That should not be too much of a problem for Russia however, as they looked a strong team throughout, until they lost their penultimate game at home to group winners Germany. They can cause immense problems on their day, and are probably a lot stronger than they are given credit for. They will be the ones who are happiest with the outcome of this qualifying draw.

November 14th First Leg Match Odds
Greece to win: 5/4 at Bet365
Draw: 9/4 at SkyBet
Ukraine to win: 12/5 at Bet365

France to win: 13/8 at BetFred
Draw: 11/5 at SportingBet
Ireland to win: 2/1 at Paddy Power

Portugal to win: 4/9 at Boylesports
Draw: 7/2 at SportingBet
Bosnia: 8/1 at SkyBet

Russia to win: 4/11 at Bet365
Draw: 7/2 at Boylesports
Slovenia to win: 8/1 at Totesport




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