World Cup treble – France to topple Ukraine in Kiev
The first legs of the 2014 World Cup play-offs for European teams are upon us and we’ve got a smart continental treble – which pays over 7/1 – for your punting perusal.
France to beat Ukraine @ 13/10
The 1998 World Cup winners have done very little wrong in qualifying so far and only lost once in eight Group I matches , which was a 1-0 home reverse against current World Cup-holders Spain.
Didier Deschamps’ squad for the trip to Kiev includes Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery – who is the evens favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for best footballer in the world in 2013 – and highly-rated Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, once of Manchester United.
Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris – who many observers believe is the best net-minder in the Premier League – should be available after recovering from concussion and Deschamps must choose between in-form forwards Olivier Giroud, Karim Benzema and Loic Remy for the lone striker role.
Ukraine have never beaten France in seven attempts and showed little in their 0-0 home draw against England in September to suggest they will trouble Lloris in this match.
France have qualified for every World Cup since lifting the trophy 15 years ago and can take a giant leap forward in their 2014 campaign here.
Iceland +1 to beat Croatia @ 4/5
Iceland are on the verge of unprecedented glory, having never qualified for the World Cup in their history and they can keep the dream alive by avoiding defeat at home to a patchy Croatia outfit.
Despite finishing second in Group A, Niko Kovac’s side managed to lose home and away against Scotland and were behind in Wales until the 77th-minute back in March.
Croatia have only won three of their last eight games, whereas Iceland are unbeaten in five and have won their last three home games.
Spurs winger Gylfi Sigurdsson and Eredivisie top-scorer Alfred Finnbogason will be available to coach Lars Lagerback and they can provide the firepower to keep Iceland on the road to Brazil.
Greece to beat Romania @ 19/20
The shock Euro 2004 winners garnered the highest points of any of the European teams that finished runner-up in their respective groups, with the same 25-point haul as Group G winners Bosnia-Herzegovina, but with a vastly inferior goal-difference.
Fernando Santos’ side won each of their last five group games on the run-in and only failed to gain all three points on two occasions during the 10-game campaign.
They face a Romanian outfit that only won one of their last three away qualifiers and that was against Group D whipping-boys Andorra.
Olympiakos centre-forward Kostas Mitroglou has netted 18 times in 18 games for club and country in 2013/14 and he can keep his side in contention for Brazil with a couple more here.