World Cup 2018 UEFA Play Offs Preview & Odds
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland know their fates in the play off round in World Cup 2018 qualification. Neither of them were one of the four seeded teams going into the draw but while the Republic of Ireland look to have a manageable tie against Denmark, things do appear to be a little trickier for Northern Ireland as they have drawn Switzerland, who were so impressive in qualification.
The draw for the play offs was made on October 17th and from them, four more European teams will be heading off to Russia next year to join the nine group winners from UEFA. The matches for the UEFA Play Off round will happen on November 9th and the 14th, so next month brings a lot of nerve-wrecking action. Other qualification action will also happen around the world in November, with the African section coming to a conclusion, while the intercontinental play off matches from around the world will also be contested to fill the remaining spots at Russia 2018.
Reigning world champions Germany are still bossing the World Cup 2018 betting market, but since the close of the UEFA qualifications main stage, they have been caught by France. Les Bleus, who are stacked with impressive talent and depth have been heavily backed since booking qualification, and have been moved into 5/1 at Ladbrokes to actually win the tournament next summer. England, in contrast, are stuck out at 20/1 which is the same price at Italy, who still have to go through the play off qualifiers to actually get to Russia.
Brazil are 6/1 to win next year after impressively winning the CONMEBOL Zone, while Spain are just behind them at a price of 7/1. Argentina are one of the other big movers in outright betting for the World Cup 2018 despite their major troubles in actually getting a qualification spot. With Lionel Messi ensuring that they did, coach Jorge Sampaoli will now have some time to work on getting them into a well-oiled attacking machine, without the pressure of qualification matches on them. The Albiceleste are 8/1 to lift the title next year.
European Qualifiers Play Off Draw
The seeded teams were Denmark, Switzerland, Italy and Croatia, being joined by Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Greece and Sweden.
Northern Ireland v Switzerland
Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland did a wonderful job in qualification, finishing second to the reigning world champions Germany. They qualified comfortably with room to spare but this is a tough draw for them and it will be important for them not to let anything slip at home in the first leg at Windsor Park. Switzerland were a powerhouse through qualification, winning nine of their ten games, including a victory over European champions Portugal. However, a loss to the Portuguese in their final game was their undoing as they surrendered top spot to Ronaldo and co. The Swiss are a good side and they are 4/11 favourites at Ladbrokes To Qualify, with Northern Ireland as 2/1 underdogs.
Croatia v Greece
A little surprisingly perhaps, Croatia failed to win their group. They only scraped home into second place in their final match, as they took a win that they needed against the Ukraine away from home. Croatia are a tough defensive side but of all the eight play off sides, but they weren’t particularly prolific. In the adjusted final play-off standings (games against bottom sides in the groups not counting), only Ireland scored fewer goals than Croatia did. But Greece aren’t exactly an attacking powerhouse either. The Greeks finished runner up to Belgium in their group and this is probably going to be a very tight tussle. Croatia are 4/11 at Ladbrokes To Qualify, leaving Greece as 2/1 underdogs.
Denmark v Republic of Ireland
The Irish will fancy their chances in this one because Denmark are nothing special particularly. They did take a good home win over Poland in their qualification group but still finished four points back of Poland in the final group standings. Ireland took an away win in Wales in their final qualifier to book the second spot in their group at the expense of the Welsh. They know how to turn it on for the big games and they will show plenty of fight and grit in this one. The key will be for them to not concede out in Denmark in the first leg because they will then have a vociferous home crowd behind them for the second. The Irish are even money To Qualify at Ladbrokes with the Danes in at 8/11.
Sweden v Italy
Will it be Sweden or Italy who fails to get through to the World Cup and join the likes of the USA and the Netherlands on the sidelines? This is a big play off showdown and the reason why Italian find themselves in this position is because of having lost out in the two-horse race in Group G to Spain. The Italians couldn’t hang in there all the way, the telling moment coming in a defeat in Spain. Sweden finished second in their group behind France, which is the reason why the Dutch won’t be going to the World cup next summer. The Swedes have done very well to carry on with life after Zlatan Ibrahimovic and will be strong on home soil but of the two, the Italians carry more overall quality and depth with them into this tie. Italy are 2/5 at Ladbrokes To Qualify with the Swedes at 7/4.Place your World Cup Bet at Bet365!
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* All mentioned odds were valid at the time of writing. Betting odds are subject to fluctuations. Please check the current odds with the respective bookmaker!