European National Teams Brace for Play-Off Matches This WeekendPublished November 10, 2017 by Florin P
The best European teams play both legs of the decisive games in the deciding rounds of the World Cup qualifiers this week.
The most important European domestic championships are on break this weekend, but this shouldn’t worry football fans. That’s because eight national teams go head to head in the playoff matches for the World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Action starts on Thursday and concludes next Tuesday, with the most exciting fixtures scheduled over the weekend. Italy and Sweden play the most exciting games, but the other six teams will also throw everything they’ve got for a chance to play in Russia next year.
Croatia Heavily Favored over Greece
Home pitch advantage in the first match as well as the overall quality of the starting formation makes Croatia favorite against Greece. 10bet Sportsbook and 888 Sport both price the home side at 5/11, while the visitors are given odds of 6/1. The hosts play offensive football, whereas Greek players rely more on experience, patience and have a defensive, pragmatic approach.
Croatia has dominated opponents when playing in front of its fans but was less effective on the road. That’s why the first leg is so important and they will come out firing on all cylinders from the first minute. For Greece, this is the perfect opportunity to play once again in an important international competition, after causing one of the biggest upsets at the European Championship.
Northern Ireland Braces for Switzerland Test
Switzerland has finished second in the highly competitive group and now has the opportunity to mark another presence at the World Cup. In order to get this far, they need to avoid defeat on the road when they travel to Northern Ireland. All bookmakers see them as slight favorites to win on the road and 10bet Sportsbook has some of the best odds at 7/5.
Punters who trust the home side can expect even bigger odds of as much as 11/5, while the draw is priced at 2/1. Northern Ireland picked up most of the points during the group stage in Belfast and the entire city will rally behind the national team at Windsor Park. Switzerland’s has the better side on paper, but the visitors will compete against the highly motivated opponent playing for a rare chance.
Italy Plays Against Sweden on Friday
Arguably the most exciting double legged set of matches is the one between Italy and Sweden, with the first leg scheduled for Friday. The world champions will be playing on the road and they are expected to try and score a much-needed goal. By comparison, Sweden needs to keep a clean sheet to stand a fighting chance when the two teams meet again at the beginning of next week in Italy.
Punters who place their bets on Italy at 888 Sport will receive odds of 10/7, which are only slightly less than what is given to the hosts. If Sweden emerges victorious, those who bet on their victory will increase their investment three times. A draw is a strong possibility given the tremendous experience of the Italian team and manager, and this outcome is also priced at 2/1.
Perfect Balance Between Denmark and the Republic of Ireland
Denmark hopes to restore some of its former glory by qualifying for World Cup 2018. They will have home pitch advantage in the first leg and play against Republic of Ireland, which is not the best traveling team. 10bet Sportsbook and 888 Sport credit the home side with the first chance in both legs and offer even odds on a home win. In this extremely balanced double legged fixture failing to claim all three points at home is likely to cause elimination.
This is the most important weekend for football national teams before World Cup 2018 begins in Russia. The squad that made it this far can’t afford to commit any mistakes, since the outcome of these double legged fixtures will decide their fate. Croatia, Greece, Italy, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Denmark will provide football fans with a quality display at the end of the week.