Wold Cup Qualifiers: Friday's International Soccer Picks
Friday Football Feast - World Cup Qualifiers
There's a whole week before we will know which of the remaining teams will be going to the World Cup in 2018 and who will be watching from the sidelines. With matches from all six FIFA confederations, Friday is essential viewing for soccer fans, and you can bet your last dollar that there will be plenty of wager potential during the next 24 hours.
There are three spots still to be determined in the final African (CAF) qualification round, and in Group D all four competing nations are still technically in with a chance. The favourites to progress are Senegal, who can secure qualification with two points from their remaining two games, and they feature in our analysis when they come up against South Africa on Friday afternoon.
Europe throws up another of its four playoff matchups when Italy travel to Sweden, while there are two intercontinental playoff matches featuring teams from CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and the AFC and OFC - Honduras will host Australia, while New Zealand will look to make it back-to-back World Cup appearances when they come up against Peru, who scraped through the South American qualifiers.
It all points to a great day of football action, and as all matches are on at separate times throughout the day, there is the possibility to watch every single one. Bet365 offer great lines on all four matches, and below we pick who we think will come out on top. Note that for the two-leg playoff fixtures, we will be focussing on the odds available for the first match rather than the 'To Progress' line - information about this can be found at the bottom of the page.
- WCQ: South Africa vs Senegal: Senegal @ +162
- WCQ: Sweden vs Italy: Italy @ +137
- WCQ: Honduras vs Australia: Draw @ +225
- WCQ: New Zealand vs Peru: New Zealand @ +425
The Fine Print - Our Match Previews
South Africa vs Senegal (12:00pm EST)
This is the match that everyone in Africa have been talking about, and it has certainly made global news. If you aren't aware, the game was already played almost exactly a year ago, and the 2-1 win to South Africa was annulled due to the referee being found guilty of match fixing. The three points would have been crucial to the Bafana, who now have to win both remaining matches against Senegal to qualify for the World Cup, although the incident definitely warranted a replay!
South Africa have reported a number of injuries and outs prior to this fixture, and although the match will be played at home they go in as outsiders at +200.
The most notable absence is potentially that of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, and that void may be compounded by the likely appearance of Sadio Mane, who returned for Liverpool last weekend and appeared to be back to full fitness. Senegal may travel south looking for a point, and therefore may set themselves up to break on the counter, using the pace of Mane.
This brings all three results into play - they could hold on for a 0-0 draw, punish South Africa with a late counter when the home side pushes forward, or concede a vital goal late on in the match. In a tough match to predict, we are going to put our money behind Senegal at +162.
Sweden vs Italy (2:45pm EST)
The only European qualifier on Friday is between Sweden and Italy, and the home side will be desperate to take all three points in a bid to make their first World Cup appearance since 2006. Sweden's recent qualification record has been agonising for fans - they missed out on a playoff in the 2010 qualifiers after falling just one point short of Portugal, then were knocked out at the playoff stage against the same opposition prior to the 2014 tournament.
Sadly, they have drawn arguably the toughest of the four possible opponents in the final round. Italy, although not at their best in recent years, only lost once from their ten matches and are the overwhelming favourites to progress from this tie - paying -350 in the 'To Progress' market. The Azzurri have only failed to make the World Cup once since their first appearance in 1934, and will surely get it done again.
Sweden can take heart from the fact that Italy aren't the force that they were when they won the 2006 World Cup; their performances at the two tournaments since have yielded just one win from six matches. Sweden have also never lost to Italy at home in a competitive fixture, although truth be told the sample size is quite small. Italy on the other hand have not lost to Sweden since 1998.
Jump on Italy (+137) here. They are offering great odds to win the first match in Solna.
Honduras vs Australia (5pm EST)
It's hard to believe it has already been a month since the crazy scenes of the final matchday in the CONCACAF playoffs. History will of course show that Trinidad and Tobago's unexpected 2-1 over the United States (see below) paved the way for Honduras to jump into a playoff spot, and are now in prime position to reach their third consecutive World Cup.
There is no doubt that the Australians would have preferred to travel to Panama or even the USA to play their final intercontinental playoff after their win over Syria, and it will take a huge performance to leave with a positive result. The match has already been moved to a 4pm (local time) kickoff to maximise the home team's advantage. 27 degrees and plenty of humidity will no doubt play into the hands of the Hondurans.
Australia's Europe-based players will certainly struggle to adjust to the conditions with a short week of preparation, however their home-based players will have at least played in some sort of heat as the Southern Hemisphere Spring moves into Summer. They will also be buoyed by the fact that they have travelled to far more harsh climates throughout Asia, with just one loss from their six away fixtures during qualification.
So how do we see this one panning out? Honduras will go into the first leg as favourites at +100, while Australia are modest outsiders at +320. The fact that Honduras barely beat an already-qualified Mexican side in their do-or-die final qualifier gives us some doubt over their ability to perform in a match where all the pressure will be on them to gain a positive result to take to Australia next week. We are going with the draw at +225.
New Zealand vs Peru
The final qualifier on Friday is technically on Saturday (as it's in New Zealand), although it's a Friday night kickoff wherever you are in Canada so it makes our list. We're excited about this match - on one hand you have New Zealand, who made only made it to the World Cup twice in history, while on the other you have Peru, a team that scraped through the South American qualifiers on goal difference and a side that has not been to the World Cup since 1982.
New Zealand are very familiar with intercontinental playoffs, they have faced off against Bahrain and Mexico in the last two qualification campaigns. While they were never a chance against Mexico, they managed to scrape through 1-0 on aggregate before a decent 2010 World Cup campaign - they didn't lose a match and managed a shock 1-1 draw against defending champions Italy.
This time around it will be tough - Peru are a great side and will come to Wellington as favourites (-134). We however think that New Zealand will more than be a match for them in this fixture. Chris Wood has been in great form for Burnley in the English Premier League and is one of the reasons the side currently sits in 7th place. We are taking on the All Whites at a generous +425 for the win.
With the exclusion of the South Africa vs Senegal game, the World Cup Qualifiers will be contested over two matches, so there are several different betting options available. You will be able to place a bet on each individual match as you normally would, with all three full-time results (win, loss and draw) available. The odds listed above are based on this line.
Most sportsbooks will also allow you to place a wager on which team will progress to the next round - this will be a simple head-to-head bet with only two outcomes, and is of more use to you if you find it more difficult to determine the individual results of each fixture but are confident of the overall winner.
Make sure you take a look at all of our betting partners and explore the lines on offer. As always, we will keep you up to date with all the latest and provide ongoing support.
Category : SoccerMore articles...
They outscored Pacific FC 3-2, avenging a 3-1 loss suffered in the spring season finale. But things didn't go as swimmingly for spring runners up Forge FC. They were toppled 2-1 by Edmonton FC.
The MLS action continues this weekend with all three Canadian teams involved in crucial fixtures. First up will be Toronto FC who is the all-Canadian clash between fierce rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, immediately followed by the Vancouver Whitecaps hosting Sporting Kansas City.