European World Cup qualifying resumes on March 24 with three full days of action on the pitch.
The weekend starts early for all of us sports bettors out there, as a full slate of matches are set to kick off on Friday, and run straight through to Sunday.
Hopefully, you have taken advantage of the mid-week World Cup qualifying that was played in Asia and South America. I also hope you checked out both of my articles that were pertaining to the games that were played in both continents.
Today, we jump to another continent and make our way to Europe for more World Cup qualifying action.
One of the big differences between European World Cup qualifying is the fact that a total of 13 nations will be awarded berths to Russia in 2018. As you might have read in my Asia and South American articles, those tournaments only offer 4.5 berths per continent, so there will be plenty of European representation when the major event kicks off on June 14, 2018.
So, we are four matches deep into group stage at this point of European World Cup qualifying. That leaves six fixtures remaining for each nation that is left in the fight, which amounts to 54 teams left hoping to grab one of those 13 bids for Russia in 2018.
Nine groups of six, labeled A – I, have already started the battle, and you can find those results at FIFA. I was going to put them all here, but my goodness, 54 teams and all that editing to format the page? You just go ahead and visit FIFA’s European World Cup qualifying page, and you can see how the groups are faring through four matches.
I will at least mention that 12 of the 54 teams have yet to suffer a defeat. If you scroll down to the Group D table, you see there are three teams in that group without a loss on their record, at almost the half way point of the stage.
I would rather take the time to edit the lines for the matches today, then go through all those tables.
Nine matches fill the Friday evening slate around the landscape of European football.
I have the same routine each time I do this, so please be aware.
I list the 1×2 3-Way lines, and then the handicap/spread lines, and I finish with the total for each match.
Georgia vs Serbia
3-Way 1×2 Lines:
Georgia +0.5 +15
Serbia -0.5 -135
Turkey vs Finland
Turkey -1 -140
Finland +1 +120
Austria vs Maldova
Austria -2 +105
Maldova +2 -125
Croatia vs Ukraine
Croatia -1 -110
Ukraine +1 -110
Ireland vs Wales
Ireland 0/Pk -145
Wales 0/pk +125
Italy vs Albania
Italy -1.5 -125
Albania +1.5 +105
Kosovo vs Iceland
Kosovo +1.5 -115
Iceland -1.5 -105
Liechtenstein vs Macedonia
Liechtenstein +1 -115
Macedonia -1 -105
Spain vs Israel
Spain -2.5 -115
Israel +2.5 -105
Throughout the next three days you can find all of your European World Cup qualifying lines and action from Diamond, one of the most trusted and respected sports books on planet Earth.
So the next question becomes, where is the action?
Since I do all the lines manually, when I see something along the way I make a note that I want to discuss it. As I was putting up the Austria and Moldova lines in Group D, what do you think stood out to me? Did you notice the -2 on the handicap for Austria, and the 2.5 on the total?
What the hell has Austria done to deserve to be favored by two goals over anyone? My kid sister and her soccer team could give Austria a run for their money! Well okay, let’s not get too carried away, but seriously!
So Austria needs to beat Maldova 3 – 0 or worse to actually cash that ticket? Austria has gone 13 straight matches in all competitions without being able to reach three goals.
I do not believe today will be that day either. The two have met four times in this century, and Austria has not beaten Maldova by three goals either.
Until history shows that they have the ability to beat Maldova up, I will take that +2
Austria vs Maldova (Group D)
Maldova +2 AH @ -125
Staying in Group D, I assume you all see the rather large match being played — Ireland and Wales — and they represent two of those 12 teams I mentioned that have not tasted defeat.
You may think that they must be close at the top of the table then, but oh no, they are not. Ireland has taken 10 of a possible 12 points with 3 wins and a draw through four matches played. Wales has only one win, but has drawn in their other three outings, leaving them with 6 points.
That total sits at a straight 2 and only $15 worth of juice attached to it. We are all no stranger to the fact that these teams two aren’t going out for a beer together after the match. What does that mean? Just use your common little rivalry word if you like, derby of sorts, call it what you will. I call it grudge football, and I see each team scoring.
I see the ‘Both Teams to Score’ prop at +105 showing at most sites who carry the offer. Uh, lovely!
I suggest you take advantage of it, and at least if it does end 1 – 1 you will still put something away for the rest of the weekend.
Ireland vs Wales
Total Over 2 @ -115
Both Teams to Score @ +105
Iceland, of course, became the story of the 2014 World Cup at moments of the tournament. Advancing out of their group in that event was remarkable, but now they need to follow it up and so far, so good! Iceland are currently in third place with a 2 – 1 – 1 record and 7 points in Group I.
As you look at the nine totals on the board for the day, only the match in Spain and the Iceland / Kosovo match have totals listed at a straight 3.
Let’s just say that things are not going so well for Kosovo thus far in European World Cup qualifying. The Dardanians have scored a single goal, and have given up 12 through four outings in Group I play. Ouch!
As we peek into that both teams to score prop bet, we see about even money on the offer. So the line setters think they will score, but list Kosovo to win at +800 at some sites? Iceland is going to destroy Kosovo today?
I digress people, because outside of that 6 – 0 drubbing to Croatia, Kosovo hung around Turkey, Ukraine and Finland just fine. Granted, they lost to Turkey and Ukraine, but they drew with Finland, and are home on what’s expected to be a gorgeous night in Kosovo.
I see a 1 – 0, 1 – 1, 2 – 1 type of match going down there, so I am grabbing the handicap line on the home side.
Kosovo vs Iceland
Kosovo +1.5 AH -115
Oh, this one will be quick.
See that Total in the Macedonia vs Liechtenstein match?
I personally think these two could accidentally score three goals. I actually laughed a little when I was putting up that line, because it said +105 on the Over 2.5!
Wait, who got drunk and came to work that day? Oh Mr. Line Setter you! MORE COFFEE, because you just gave us all a chance at an easy ticket.
I get that scoring has not been exactly easy for these two in Group G, but Spain and Italy are not exactly easy to score on either. If either one of these nations has a snowball’s chance in hell to advance, three points here is a must. A 1 – 1 draw would basically end both of their chances, and they are already slim enough.
Liechtenstein vs Macedonia Over 2.5 @ +105
Okay, let me end this here because I have to attack the other two days of European World Cup qualifying too.
Enjoy this week everyone, and there is never enough World Cup action to discuss!
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