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World Cup Play-offs Betting Odds: Irish Sides Aiming for another Tournament


We may have a two week break without the Premier League, but we do have another big round of international football to enjoy. The line-up for the 2018 World Cup is set to be decided, ahead of December’s draw for the competition. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are in action among the four World Cup play-off ties in Europe. Before you go placing a bet on any of these huge ties, take a look at our betting tips and odds comparison for the information and predictions you need to make a profit.

Nor. Ireland v Switzerland: Michael O’Neill Looking to Cap Off Success

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill might be leaving his post after this qualification campaign finishes, with Scotland heavily linked with a move for him. Despite that, the Ulstermen have a huge tie with Switzerland to prepare for, a match between two sides who give very little away. These two are both likely to sit back and wait to pounce on any mistakes that materialise, which could lead to a game of Russian Roulette between the pair as they look to book a spot in Russia.

Switzerland conceded just seven goals in qualifying, and only five in their opening nine games before a defeat to Portugal. The Swiss managed to win their opening nine, before missing out on an automatic berth on the final day. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland didn’t concede in their first four home qualifiers, until Germany showed up. In fact, the World champions were the only side NI conceded against up until the final group game. We see this being a really tight game, and we’re backing under 1.5 goals in the first leg at 6/4 with Bet365.

Our odds comparison currently marks out the Swiss as heavy favourites for the next round. Given their qualifying form, it’s hard to argue with their price here. Northern Ireland could come up just short in terms of quality in this clash, with the Swiss in brilliant form at home. We think they’ll do just enough to knock out Michael O’Neill’s side in the second leg, so we’re backing the Swiss to qualify at 4/11 with BetVictor.

Denmark v Rep. of Ireland: Can McClean Fire the Republic Through?

The Republic of Ireland were widely considered to have got the best possible draw, as they face Denmark with the second leg at home. The Danes do have some threat about them, but the Republic are in a familiar position. They made it through the play-offs to get to Euro 2016, beating Bosnia after an impressive away display. Martin O’Neill will be demanding more of the same from his side, and they have got a solid record on the road in big games.

They won 1-0 at Austria and Wales to secure their place in the play-offs, both thanks to a strike from James McClean. He helped the Republic to an impressive goal tally on the road, as they scored in every trip, racking up eight strikes across the five trips. McClean ended up scoring half of those, with all four securing victories for his side in the process. While we’re not convinced that the Republic will claim an away win here, we’re backing more joy for the West Brom winger. We expect the Republic to score a goal, and their price of 8/11 with Coral to find the back of the net is too tempting for us. We’re backing that, along with going for McClean any time at 7/1 with 888Sport.

While our odds comparison has marked out Denmark as the favourites to qualify, we think the Republic can get over the line in Dublin. We’re backing them to grab an away goal, and that could prove crucial ahead of the second leg. We think the Irish are massively overpriced to make it to Russia next summer, especially given the manner that they fought back to make the play-offs. We’re backing the Republic of Ireland to qualify at 5/4 with Bet365.

Sweden v Italy: Can the Italians Impress in Crunch Clash?

As many big name managers know, having Carlo Ancelotti out of a job is bad news. The former Chelsea boss is casting a shadow over Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, who made some poor decisions in their recent qualifiers. With a play-off clash with Sweden coming up, the manager has to prove himself in this two-legged tie to ease that pressure, with rumours circling that he could be replaced.

Sweden have been more impressive than many imagined since Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired, so this isn’t easy for Italy. The Swedes hit 18 goals across their five home qualifiers, and we see them finding the net at home to Italy. They need to press home their first leg advantage, and our odds comparison suggests this clash is going to be a close one. That has us backing both teams to score, given that Italy struck 21 goals in 10 group games. With BTTS priced at 19/17 here, we think there’s some great value in that bet. We also like the price of the draw here, at 11/5 with Ladbrokes. With Sweden unbeaten at home in this campaign, we’re backing them to get a draw out of this clash.

Our odds comparison has Italy as heavy favourites across the board. While they didn’t have the smoothest qualification campaign, they should still have too much quality for Sweden across these two legs. The Italians have an up and coming crop of young players, and we’re backing them to book a spot at the World Cup, with Italy best priced at 1/3 with Ladbrokes to qualify.

Croatia v Greece: Can Croatia Pick up Home Advantage?

Croatia are one of the strongest sides in the play-offs, but they face a tough task when they clash with Greece. With the second leg taking place in Greece, the hosts need to press home their advantage in the opener, but they’ve not been a side for big wins. All of their five home qualifiers saw under 2.5 goals scored, and they’re in line for a similar result against an organised Greece side. We think under 2.5 is a great value bet here at 3/5 with BetVictor.

Given that Croatia scored a single goal in four of their five home matches, hitting just six goals across those games, we don’t expect a heavy win. We can see a very low scoring clash here, but we are ultimately backing the hosts to take this first leg, and our odds comparison currently makes them the favourites. Croatia seem like fantastic value to win with under 2.5 goals scored, which can be backed at 17/10 with Ladbrokes.

A narrow defeat here would still give Greece a chance to qualify, but that seems unlikely as far as we are concerned. The Euro 2004 winners managed just two home wins in qualifying; beating Cyprus and Gibraltar. We can’t see them edging out Croatia, so we have to back the first leg hosts to qualify at 4/11 with Betfair.