Final World Cup Qualifiers
There were huge celebrations in Belgium last Friday when the ‘Red Devils’ confirmed their place at the top of Group A and the dream trip to the World Cup Finals in Brazil that goes with it.
As the final make-up for next summer’s tournament takes full shape, hosts Brazil (Coral’s 100/30 favourites), Argentina, Spain and Germany (all 5/1) have quite predictably emerged as the ‘Big Four.’
But it isn’t Italy or Holland (and certainly not 25/1 shots England) who are next up on the list. It’s Belgium, with more and more punters catching on that the country most famous for having nothing famous about it, is now a real force in world football. Coral were offering 18/1 Belgium to win the World Cup outright, but now go 14/1 after their 2-1 victory in Croatia.
Their team reads like a who’s who of influential Premier League talents like Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Simon Mignolet… the list goes on and on and we may soon be able to add Adnan Januzaj to it if Man United’s wunderkind elects to play for the country of his birth.
There are still a few World Cup places up for grabs in Europe – and around the rest of the world – and one of them may yet be filled by Iceland, who would be qualifying for the first time in their history.
They are 9/5 to win in Norway tomorrow, but all they need to do is take as many points as Slovenia (away at Group E winners Switzerland) in this final round of matches to secure a place in the play-offs.
It’s a three-way go for the runners-up spot in Group D. Turkey currently lie second, but will need something against table-toppers Holland to keep it that way with Romania and Hungary both snapping at their heels and most likely to win home games against Estonia and Andorra respectively.
Turkey are 7/5 to beat Holland and and they will fancy their chances against a Dutch side smoking cigars after qualifying in some style.
Meanwhile in South America, Colombia have made it through along with Brazil (as hosts) and Argentina after coming back from three down to grab a 3-3 draw against Chile. This means that Chile and Ecuador will also qualify if they draw their final match this week and if that’s the case then Uruguay will need to beat Jordan in a play-off.
Burkina Faso (another nation yet to qualify for the World Cup), Nigeria and Ivory Coast take leads into their second leg ties in Africa’s play-offs, all to be played next month.
Ghana (10/11) play Egypt (13/4) in their first-leg match tomorrow without their Schalke 04 star, Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is nursing a knee injury.