World Cup Qualifiers Betting Preview

Our snapshot preview of all four World Cup qualifiers featuring the Home Nations this week – with the first three on Friday, followed by Wales v Austria on Saturday.

Malta v England  

RECOMMENDED BETSMARKETODDSBOOKMAKERS
England 3-0Correct Score4/1Paddy Power
England 4-0Correct Score5/1Paddy Power
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ew)First Goalscorer9/1Bet365

Malta beat Ukraine 1-0 in a friendly in June, but have lost all six of their Group F World Cup qualifiers –  scoring just twice and conceding 15 goals.

Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge of England was the reverse fixture at Wembley last October, which his side won 2-0 with goals from Daniel Sturridge and Deli Alli, with Malta’s goalkeeper Andrew Hogg making a number of good saves.

But England will expect to do better here at the Ta-Qali National Stadium, where Scotland won 5-1 back in September, and it’s no surprise the hosts are 80/1 at Coral.

Southgate’s men have kept five clean sheets in their six Group F games and with striker Alfred Effiong – who scored that goal here against Scotland – suspended, the best option looks to be perming some Correct Scores with England winning to nil.

We suggest the 3-0 and 4-0 away wins at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively with Paddy Power.

Harry Kane is 9/4 with Bet365 to open the scoring, but a little better value could be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored England’s first goal in their last away match, against Scotland – he can celebrate his move to Liverpool with the first goal at 9/1.

Lithuania v Scotland     

RECOMMENDED BETSMARKETODDSBOOKMAKERS
Draw1X213/5Bet365
1-1Correct Score11/2Bet365
2-2Correct Score20/1Bet365
Vykintas SlivkaAnytime Goalscorer10/1William Hill
Arvydas NovikovasAnytime Goalscorer10/1Bet365

This is a must win game for Gordon Strachan’s side – who sit fourth in Group F with two wins, two draws and two defeats in their 2018 World Cup qualifiers thus far.

But the Scots only drew 1-1 with Lithuania in the reverse fixture at Hampden Park back in October – and that courtesy of an 89th minute James McArthur equaliser.

Scotland have also lost their last two Group F away games 3-0 – to Slovakia and England – and the best odds 5/6 with William Hill on the visitors offer little appeal, especially considering they have only won once in four visits to Lithuania (L1, D2).

That said, Lithuania’s only win in Group F was here against Malta (D2, L3) and so perhaps the best bet is on another draw between these sides – at best odds of 13/5.

On that basis we also suggest backing the 1-1 and 2-2 at 11/2 and 20/1 respectively with Bet365 – who refund losing Correct Score bets on all matches that finish 0-0.

There are two players in the Lithuanian squad who now ply their trade in Scotland, both for Hibernian – Deivydas Matuevicius and Vykintas Slivka – the latter of whom scored a stunning goal against Rangers at Ibrox earlier this month.

The new signing from Juventus, who has also scored here in this Group F campaign, can be backed at stand-out odds of 10/1 with William Hill to score a goal on Friday.

Arvydas Novikovas is another Lithuanian well known to Scottish fans after five years at Hearts and he has already scored twice in Group F – he’s 10/1 to score at Bet365.

San Marino v Northern Ireland     

RECOMMENDED BETSMARKETODDSBOOKMAKERS
Northern Ireland 3-0Correct Score41/10Unibet
Northern Ireland 4-0Correct Score21/4Unibet
Kyle LaffertyFirst Goalscorer14/5Unibet

Northern Ireland sit second in Group C, behind Germany, and face a side who are 100/1 with Betfair to win their first ever World Cup qualifier (D2, L60).

Unsurprisingly, San Marino have lost all six games in Group C thus far, scoring once and conceding 30, which includes a 4-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Windsor Park.

It should be noted that Northern Ireland were only 1-0 up in that match until the 79th minute, with San Marino reduced to 10 men for most of the second half.

However, San Marino’s last two home games were 8-0 and 6-0 defeats to Germany and the Czech Republic, and Michael O’Neill’s side should score at least three – we suggest backing 3-0 and 4-0 at best odds of 41/10 and 21/4 respectively with Unibet.

Kyle Lafferty scored twice when the teams met in October and the Hearts striker is a best price of 14/5 with Unibet to score the first goal here on Friday night.

Wales v Austria     

RECOMMENDED BETSMARKETODDSBOOKMAKERS
Draw1X223/10Bet365
1-1Correct Score5/1Bet365
Gareth BaleFirst Goalscorer3/1Paddy Power
Marko ArnautovicAnytime Goalscorer10/3Paddy Power

After their heroics at Euro 2016, Wales look set to miss out on the World Cup in Russia, with just one win and five draws from their six qualification games thus far.

Austria also look unlikely to qualify, with both nations on eight points – four points adrift of Group D pacemakers Serbia and the Republic of Ireland – and while a draw here will suit neither side, it looks the most likely outcome at the 23/10 with Bet365.

The last two qualifiers here in Cardiff finished 1-1, with Gareth Bale opening the scoring in both, but Wales then conceding second half goals – to Georgia and Serbia.

Another 1-1 is 5/1 at Bet365 – who refund losing Correct Score bets on all matches that finish 0-0 – while Bale can be backed at 3/1 with Paddy Power to score first.

Marko Arnautovic scored twice for Austria in the reverse fixture in Vienna, which finished 2-2, and West Ham’s new striker is 10/3 with Paddy Power to score here.