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What Are The Pick Of The Bets For This Week’s World Cup Qualifiers?


We may not have had the European Championship Finals as yet, as these delayed finals are scheduled to take place across June and July this year. Despite this we are now set to press ahead with qualification for the biggest football tournament on Earth. The 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals, which will take place in the winter of 2022 in Qatar.

The only team guaranteed to take part in the tournament are the host nations, with the World Cup holders France forced to qualify for the tournament they won in Russia in 2018.

It promises to be a busy year for the European teams as they face either eight or ten qualifying matches, depending on whether they have been drawn into a group with five or six teams and it is going to be imperative for some of them to get off to a flying start in their groups. Especially considering that there are some very big games being played over the course of the next week or so.

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Let’s now explain how UEFA will decide how its 13 qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar will be decided through its qualifying campaign.

UEFA World Cup Qualifying

The 55 teams in the UEFA Qualifying section will be split into one of ten groups (as shown below). The teams will then play each other home and away over ten matchdays. At the end of the qualifying phase, the ten group winners will then go forward to represent UEFA at the World Cup Finals.

All ten matchdays will be played between March 2021 and November 2021.

For the remaining three places, the ten teams that finish as runners up in the groups, along with the top two ranked teams from the Nations League that have not qualified for the tournament, will take part in the playoffs in March 2022.

The playoffs will be split into three separate ‘paths’ with four teams drawn into each path. There will then be a one-legged semi final, followed by a one-legged final to decide who are the three path winners and who will also go on to the World Cup Finals later on in the year.

UEFA Group Draws

The draws for the ten groups were made in December 2020. The teams listed first in each group were the top seeds and split into one of the ten groups in the tournaments with other teams from other pots drawn into the groups.

  • Group A – Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
  • Group B – Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo
  • Group C – Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania
  • Group D – France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan
  • Group E – Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia
  • Group F – Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova
  • Group G – Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar
  • Group H – Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta
  • Group I – England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino
  • Group J – Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein

Fixtures for Matchday 1

The opening matchday of qualifying will take place on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th March this week. The fixtures due to be played across those two days are listed below.

Wednesday 24th March

  • Estonia v Czech Republic (5pm)
  • Turkey v Netherlands (5pm)
  • Belgium v Wales
  • Cyprus v Slovakia
  • Finland v Bosnia Herzegovina
  • France v Ukraine
  • Gibraltar v Norway
  • Latvia v Montenegro
  • Malta v Russia
  • Portugal v Azerbaijan
  • Serbia v Republic of Ireland
  • Slovenia v Croatia

Thursday 25th March

  • Bulgaria v Switzerland (5pm)
  • Israel v Denmark (5pm)
  • Andorra v Albania
  • England v San Marino
  • Germany v Iceland
  • Hungary v Poland
  • Italy v Northern Ireland
  • Liechtenstein v Armenia
  • Moldova v Faroe Islands
  • Romania v North Macedonia
  • Scotland v Austria
  • Spain v Greece
  • Sweden v Georgia

What Are Our Top Betting Tips For Matchday 1?

Accumulator

  • Turkey v Netherlands – Draw
  • Hungary v Poland – Draw
  • Scotland v Austria – Draw

There are a number of games that look like being very close contests this week and I think these three matches are great examples of this. The Netherlands and Turkey have both been involved in plenty of drawn matches of late, as have Hungary and Poland, while Austria and Scotland have also had their fair share too.

Given that this is Matchday 1, I think both teams will feel not losing is more important than winning and as such, I think these three games are all great bets to finish as a draw. Better still, combine them into a three-selection accumulator bet (or treble) and you can get odds of 40.34/1 on that bet!

England v San Marino

  • England to win 5-0 – 13/2

San Marino have been on the end of some real canings in recent times in European football and some of those have been at the hands of England. However, Gareth Southgate’s team have not been very deadly in front of goal in recent times and they have made heavy work sometimes of dealing with lesser teams.

As such, I am not confident England will get, six, seven or eight goals (or more as some teams have managed in the past). However I think a scoreline of 5-0 does feel about right against the whipping boys of European football. That bet is a 13/2 shot with bet365 at the present moment.

If you are also interested, you could team that up with a Harry Kane to score bet given that the England captain does tend to get a lot of his goals against these lesser teams.

Home Win Accumulator

  • Belgium to beat Wales (3/10)
  • Finland to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina (8/5)
  • France to beat Ukraine (2/9)
  • Serbia to beat Republic of Ireland (8/13)
  • Italy to beat Northern Ireland (1/7)
  • Romania to beat North Macedonia (4.5)

Back these six teams to win their opening home game of the qualifiers and you could get odds of 12.72/1 on all six winning their matches.

Hungary v Poland

  • Robert Lewandowski to score first and Correct Score 1-1 – 22/1

I do feel that the other big game in England’s group is going to be a key one in terms of who stands the best chance of qualifying from the group. A win for Poland would be a massive result for them and not a great one for England who will want Hungary to take something from this game. I think they will though as Hungary have been an improving side in Europe for several years now.

Poland though have Robert Lewandowski in attack and the Bayern striker is arguably the best traditional number 9 in world football at the moment. I do feel he will score a goal here and that he may score the opener.

That said, I feel that Hungary will score an equaliser in the game and claim a point and you can double up on that bet to get odds of 22/1.