The race for places at the 2014 World Cup is slowly hotting up in the European Zone, with nine qualifying groups slowly taking shape. Things are much clearer after yesterday’s results and with just one more round to be played this year, it’s time to take a look at the teams’ chances of reaching the tournament finals.
Belgium and Croatia made giant strides towards winning one of the top two berths with away wins over Serbia and FYR Macedonia respectively, with both sides now sitting on 7 points. The Red Devils host Scotland on Tuesday and are 2.00 (1/1) with BetVictor to win the first place in Group A, whereas Croatia, who take on Wales, are 2.38 (11/8). Gareth Bale’s brace helped the Dragons record the first win of the qualifying campaign, but Chris Coleman’s side don’t look capable of reaching Brazil.
Group leaders Italy overcame another obstacle as they beat Armenia away and are a good bet at 1.58 (29/50) offered by Betfair to finish in first place, while Czech Republic profited from the stalemate in Bulgaria vs Denmark and returned into contention with an easy win over Malta.
Germany extended the winning run to three games as they hammered Ireland 6-1, and now play host to second-placed Sweden, who also boast a 100% record. Joachim Low’s side are 1.25 (1/4) with bet365 to see off their Nordic opponents, while Austria and Ireland will be hoping to return into contention by beating Kazakhstan and Faroe Islands respectively.
While nobody was surprised to see Netherlands record the third win against Andorra, Romania produced quite a coup by doing the same away in Turkey, with Victor Piturca’s side 1.73 (8/11) at BetVictor to achieve a top 2 finish. Hungary and Turkey are also in contention for the second place in the group and everything will be much clearer when the two sides meet in Budapest on Tuesday.
Switzerland missed an excellent opportunity to record their third win of the campaign as they were held at home by Norway, but they are, nonetheless, 1.91 (10/11) with BetVictor to win one of the most evenly matched groups in the European Zone of World Cup qualifiers. Slovenia and Iceland did well to beat Cyprus and Albania respectively, with all six sides still in with a shout of securing their place at the final tournament.
Russia were probably the biggest winners of game week 3 as they recorded a 1-0 win over Portugal to climb three points clear at the group summit. As a result, Fabio Capello’s side are 1.91 (10/11) to remain at the top come end of the qualifying campaign, but the Seleccao are still 1.80 (4/5) favourites to win Group F. Israel, on four points after beating Luxembourg, hope to create a surprise and break the high-profile duo.
After Slovakia beat Latvia at home and Greece and Bosnia shared spoils in Athens, all three teams are now tied on seven points, which promises a very exciting battle for the first place in the group. Slovakia host Greece on Tuesday in an attempt to gain an early advantage over their rivals, while Bosnia should have an easy job against Lithuania.
England may have climbed to the top of the standings thanks to a comfortable win over San Marino, but with Ukraine, Poland and Montenegro also starting well, the Three Lions could face a tough task in trying to achieve automatic qualification. The group could take a new shape after Ukraine host Montenegro and Poland welcome England on Tuesday.
Spain and France are tied on six points after winning their first two qualifiers, so there will be a lot of fire when the European giants meet at Estadio Vicente Calderon in a couple of days. La Furia Roja are 1.53 (8/15) with Paddy Power to continue the winning run, while away win pays 7.30 (63/10) at Betfair.