Ireland have started off on the road to Qatar with a 3-2 loss away to Serbia, thus putting a big dent in manager Stephen Kenny’s hopes of qualifying for a place at the World Cup. The last appearance will be 20 years previously, when Mick McCarthy’s team were a penalty shoot out from making it to the ¼ finals. In the knock out game against Spain, Ireland were the better side and should have won. How things change, Spain have won the World Cup and the Euros twice in that time.
While Ireland lost to Serbia, the manner of the performance and the scoring of two goals will have lifted some of the gloom that has enveloped the team since Kenny took over. With a tricky home tie against Luxembourg ahead on Saturday, anything less than a win will do for Ireland’s very slim odds of making it to the World Cup. Currently at 12/1 to win the group outright, I know, I know! Pigs are more likely to seen flying over Lansdowne Road. Ireland’s aim will be to pip Serbia and finish in second place and hope for a play off spot. Ireland will need Portugal to win away in Serbia as well as having to beat Serbia at home. A tall order indeed.
With the World Cup qualifiers condensed into a 9 month window, some teams will have less time to mature into a group so there should be some surprises finishing in the top 2 places of groups, here are some of our cheeky bets, you can find the latest betting odds at..
In Group B Spain will finish 1st, with Sweden expected to follow them home in 2nd place especially with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return but we think Greece, who drew 1-1 away to Spain already are worth backing.
In group C, Italy will be expected to win it but they are not always winning groups like they did previously and they have Switzerland in the group, who are one of the most dogged teams in Europe. A cheeky bet on Switzerland to top the group is very tasty.
Group G has been blown wide open with Turkey beating Holland 4-2 in Turkey. Norway have the best young player in the World right now in 20 year old Erling Braut Haaland (even better than Killian Mbappe). He has the look and hunger of Ronaldo, and also has the narcissistic trait of a player that only cares about scoring goals. Holland could lose out in the group too so back Norway to qualify from the group.
World Cup winner
While qualifying has only just started you can still back teams to win the tournament outright now and the usual teams are favourites. France and Brazil are joint favourites at 7/1, then it’s Spain and Germany at 9/1. The European teams have held the World Cup for 16 years, it was Brazil in 2002 the last time it left Europe, outside of the European team only Brazil look like they could win it. But beware of backing the previous holders of a World Cup they usually go out in the group stages, Germany in 2018, Spain in 2014 and Italy in 2010 and if you go back France in 2002 went out as holder as well. A remarkable statistic.
Out of the European favourites Germany still look tired under Joachim Loew, France have had 10 years under Deschamps too although I do expect them to break the group stage hoodoo. The Spanish La Liga is at it’s lowest ebb in years having dominated the Champions League and Europa league previously, their top teams are very weak. So, it’s time to say hello Italy my old friend. Italy last won the World Cup in 2006 which was unexpected. They have the pedigree and history which is so important in winning a World Cup, they have a good manager in Roberto Mancini, Italian teams are always defensively sound and they have the look of a classic Italian team of the past. A dark horse bet indeed and can be backed at 16/1.
Ohh and for the insane you can always back Ireland between the price of 500/1.