THIS is something I didn’t think I’d be writing – if Wales and Iceland win on Sunday they’ll be heading to Euro 2016.
Both countries have done superbly well to reach this position and I expect them to succeed against Israel and Kazakhstan respectively.
Nerves could play a part but there’s no excuse for the Welsh really as three points are a given from a home match with Andorra so really they are already there.
Gareth Bale was the hero on Thursday with the only goal in Cyprus and the Real Madrid man has netted six of his country’s nine goals in qualifying. It’s no cert he’ll net first but I’ll be backing him at 7-2 with William Hill and 5-4 at BetVictor to score at any time.
Bale bagged a double in a 3-0 away win in Haifa but it was Aaron Ramsay who scored first and the Arsenal midfielder is 8-1 at William Hill and bet365 to repeat the feat.
Wales are set for a Cardiff carnival and having taken care of Belgium at home I’ll be backing them at 10-11 with Betfred and Ladbrokes.
Elsewhere in Group A Belgium will be looking for a favour from Wales that will allow them to almost clinch second place by winning in Cyprus. The Cypriots battled well against well but didn’t pose much of a threat and Belgium can be supported at 4-11 at the likes of William Hill and Ladbrokes.
Belgium played well to beat Bosnia from a goal down and with a bigger goal threat can win this by more than win. Minus one they are 11-10 with Paddy Power and I’d consider Romelu Lukaku at 4-1 with bet365 to score first if he starts.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are no bigger than 1-50 with William Hill to beat Andorra at home so the bet for me could be Edin Dzeko to score first at 3-1 with Paddy Power as he did in Belgium.
In Group A Iceland are no bigger than 1-3 at Ladbrokes to beat Kazakhstan in Reykjavik and secure a trip to their first finals.
They humbled Holland 1-0 in Amsterdam on Thursday to complete the double over the Dutch and are eight points clear of Danny Blind’s side who left their guide dogs at home last week. Gylfi Sigurdsson was the hero in Holland with a penalty and is 7-1 at 888sport to score first again.
Czech Republic lie two points behind Iceland after a 2-1 win against Kazakhstan in Plzen and head to Latvia hoping to pick up a win that will seal their slot. Latvia have picked up just four points and three goals and I like the Czechs even though they are no bigger than 3-5 at BetVictor.
It’s a straight fight between Turkey and Holland for third place but I can’t confidently back the Dutch in Istanbul unless they start showing some improvement.
I watched the Azerbaijan-Croatia 0-0 Group H draw last week and couldn’t believe how bad the Croats – they played like Scotland did in Georgia but with better players and hardly threatened the goal. Mario Mandzukic looked disinterested while Real Madrid new boy Mateo Kovacic is banned after being booked in Baku.
Next they go to Norway who are no world beaters but will be confident after winning in Bulgaria last week. Norway look big at 31-10 at BetVictor and if you want to play safer back them not to lose at 11-14 at 888sport as the sides battle to go through with likely group winners Italy.
The Italians were less than impressive as they edged out Malta 1-0 at home last week and their last four have gone under 2.5 goals. They should beat Bulgaria but as best price is 1-2 back under 2.5 goals at 4-6 with Paddy Power.
(10-11, Betfred, Ladbrokes)
Bale to score first
(7-2, William Hill)
Belgium -1 (7.45pm)
(11-10, Paddy Power)
Dzeko to score first (7.45pm)
(3-1, Paddy Power)