The Footy Files: World Cup qualifying soccer betting news and notes

Oct 3, 2017 |
The Footy Files: World Cup qualifying soccer betting news and notes
It's simple for England this week, as one win in either of its final two games will secure a trip to Russia next summer.
It's simple for England this week, as one win in either of its final two games will secure a trip to Russia next summer.

The busy and exciting world of European club soccer takes a break to make way for World Cup qualifying matches. Monty Andrews takes a look at some of the most important news stories, odds, key injuries, and betting trends to help with your footy wagers.

Fixture of the week: Montenegro v. Denmark

You won't find a more dead-even matchup in this week's World Cup first-round qualifying finales than Thursday's Group E fixture between Montenegro and visiting Denmark. The teams come into their final two first-round games with identical records - five wins, two losses and a draw - and even have the same number of goals for (18) and against (seven). Montenegro is listed as a +260 underdog on Bet365, despite prevailing 1-0 on the road in their last meeting with the Danes (+120) last winter. And if you needed one more equalizer between these teams, they've each won their last three World Cup qualifying contests.

Clean Sheets and Clean Sweeps

Germany had little trouble dispatching Northern Ireland in their first Group C encounter - but the vanquished are on a heck of a roll as these teams meet again Thursday at Windsor Park in Belfast. The Germans (-350) can wrap up an automatic qualification berth with a win, but it might not be as easy as Germany has had it throughout group play, having reeled off eight wins while outscoring the opposition 35-2 in the process. Northern Ireland (+1,200) has been on a tear since that 2-0 defeat; its only loss in group play; the hosts have won five straight games while posting clean sheets in all five of those matches.

Win, And You're In

It's simple for England this week, as one win in either of its final two games will secure a trip to Russia next summer. The English side (-300) comes into Thursday's encounter with Slovenia (+1,100) having posted six victories and two draws through the first eight games of qualifying. The offense has looked solid, having produced two or more goals in five straight matches; Harry Kane has been the catalyst with 13 goals over domestic and international matches in September, and he'll look to help England atone for a 0-0 draw against the Slovenians in Ljubljana in their previous encounter just over a year ago.

Up For Grabs

Nothing is decided in Group I, with four teams in the running for that coveted automatic qualification berth entering the final two games of double-round-robin play. Suffice to say, that makes Friday's showdown between host Turkey and Iceland a big one; the visitors share top spot in the group with Croatia at 16 points, while Turkey and Ukraine are right behind at 14 points. Iceland (+290) did what it had to do the first time around, cruising to a 2-0 home triumph in their first go-around. But the Turkish side (-106) has been on a roll at home, winning three straight World Cup qualifying games at Eskisehir while posting clean sheets each time.

Injury Updates

* Wales will be without all-world forward Gareth Bales for its final two World Cup qualifying games against Georgia and Ireland. The Welsh side, which sits in second place in Group D entering the week, is a +100 favorite at Georgia (+300) on Friday.

* A hamstring injury will keep talented striker Alvaro Morata out of Spain's lineup for upcoming qualifying games versus Albania and Israel. But the Spaniards likely won't feel his absence; they're a heavy -1,600 fave to upend the visiting Albanians (+2,800).

* Italy will be without a quartet of injured players this week for World Cup encounters with Macedonia and Albania. Midfielders Marco Verratti, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Daniele De Rossi and striker Andrea Belotti are all out of commission.

* Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku does not have a fractured ankle or ligament damage, and may play this weekend against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus. The Belgians are slight +160 favorites on Bet365 to prevail in Sarajevo on Saturday.

Props of the Week

* Cristiano Ronaldo had a great time the last time Portugal faced Andorra, finding the net four times in the 6-0 rout. Bet365 has Ronaldo installed at -225 to score two or more goals in Saturday's rematch, and +137 to notch three goals.

* Lukaku might not be full strength this weekend, but you can bet he'll still have a nose for the net. He's listed at +500 to score in a specific half, and +150 to strike anytime; Bosnia and Herzegovina's Edin Dzeko is oddsmakers' top scoring option at +137.

* That impressive French goal prevention has been on display in the first round of World Cup qualifying, with the Group A leaders having posted four clean sheets through eight matches. France is listed at -138 to repeat the feat against Bulgaria on Saturday.

* Robert Lewandowski has been the class of Group E, scoring 12 goals in eight games - five more than runner-up Stevan Jovetic of Montenegro. Lewandowski is listed at +150 to score two or more goals versus Armenia on Thursday.

Betting Trends

* Draws have been the story in Group D; all six teams have at least two ties, while Friday combatants Georgia and Wales each have five draws through eight matches. They're listed on Bet365 at +230 to play to a tie on Friday.

* Germany has had Northern Ireland's number of late, having posted clean sheets in back-to-back meetings. The Germans are -150 to make it three shutouts in a row in Belfast on Thursday.

* Croatia fans have had to settle for defensive struggles in recent World Cup qualifying games, with their side playing four straight 1-0 decisions. If you're feeling frisky, you'll get +333 on Friday's Croatia-Finland tilt going under 1.5 goals.

* Bosnia and Herzegovina have played over 2.5 goals in three of their last four World Cup games, and four of their previous five meetings with Belgium. Over in their next showdown is paying out at -118.

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