There's no doubt about it, Chris Coleman's Wales are the team to beat in World Cup qualification Group D, even if some bookies have them second favourites behind the Austrians.

Nonetheless, alongside our live odds comparison, we’re offering tips and analysis as we do our best to predict who will join the Dragons in Russia.

Coleman's Wales got their World Cup qualifiers off to the perfect start recently, as they eased past Moldova by a 4-0 scoreline at the Cardiff City Stadium.

After 40 minutes or so of frustration, Sam Vokes' header relieved the pressure and took the shackles off Coleman's team – from then on, it was one-way traffic. Joe Allen added a second, before Gareth Bale stole the show by netting the final two.

Whilst the Dragons were firing on all cylinders in Cardiff, Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland were enduring an extremely tough match in Serbia.

Jeff Hendrick's early goal was cancelled out by a strike from Serbia's Filip Kostic and a Dusan Tadic penalty to turn the match on its head. Fortunately for Ireland, new Newcastle United striker Daryl Murphy popped up with a deserved equaliser 10 minutes from time. A draw in Belgrade signalls a very solid start for the Irish.

Elsewhere in Group D, Marcel Koller's Austria won 2-1 in Georgia, meaning that the Austrians and the Welsh top the group after game one with three points each.

Austria host Wales in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna next month, which promises to be a captivating affair between the group favourites. Despite seemingly riding on a crest of a wave at present, Wales will no doubt go into that game as the slight underdogs. Nevertheless, they won't let that bother them one bit.

After doing so well in their first-ever European Championship in the summer – losing out in the semi-final stage to eventual winners Portugal – it's difficult to see who's going to stop them in their quest to qualify for their first World Cup in 60 years. As our live odds comparison shows, Wales are priced at 2/1 in the outright betting with Coral to win the group, which we believe is a standout bet.

As a consequence, it may be worth backing one of Austria, Serbia or Ireland to finish runners-up, giving themselves every chance of a play-off berth in the process.

Of course, the likes of Austria and Serbia are more fancied than the Republic, but after their excellent draw in Belgrade on Monday night, O'Neill's men will no doubt fancy their chances of securing second place.

BetVictor are offering you solid odds of 6/4 for Ireland to finish in the top two, whilst Sky Bet have odds of 5/2 for Republic of Ireland to qualify for Russia 2018. Ireland, who reached the knockout stages in Euro 2016, last reached the World Cup in 2002. Despite that, they will back themselves to reach the finals 16 years on.

With just one round of fixtures gone in Group D, there's still everything to play for. With some mouth-watering games to come in this highly-competitive group, there's still three or four nations who have a genuine chance of topping Group D.

However, we can't see anyone stopping the relentless Welsh machine, and we believe Martin O'Neill's Ireland have what it takes to reach the play-offs.


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