Key European World Cup Qualifying Games
by Jason Green of Predictem.com
This Saturday there are a few key World Cup qualifying games that may determine who is going to South Africa next summer and who will be watching the World Cup from home.
Here are some of the key games in Europe with the FIFA World rankings and approximate odds.
Portugal (11) at Albania (92)
Albania 8.00 Portugal 1.40 Draw 4.25
Portugal is in a position that they have to win their remaining games to qualify for next summer. They reached the semifinals of the last World Cup in Germany, but they are currently in 2nd place in Group 1 and trail both Denmark and surprising Hungary by 7 points. Portugal has played well on defense only allowing 3 goals in 5 matches, but their offense has been weak only scoring 6 goals in those 5 games. Christiano Ronoldo has to start scoring some goals or Portugal will be in trouble.
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Denmark (24) at Sweden (31)
Sweden 2.05 Denmark 3.65 Draw 3.25
Sweden is tied with Portugal at 6 points in Group 1, but trail Denmark and Hungary by 7 points. Sweden needs to win this home match, as if Denmark can pull the upset they can, pretty much, punch their ticket to South Africa. The Swedes last 2 matches have been 0-0 draws and they have only scored 2 goals and given up 1 in their 4 group matches played.
Ukraine (19) at Croatia (8)
Croatia 1.75 Ukraine 4.30 Draw 3.25
Ukraine made the semifinals in the last World Cup in Germany, but they may have to win this tough game in Zagreb against Croatia to play next summer. Both these teams are in Group 6, which may be the group of death, as besides these two solid team England is running away with the group with 15 points followed by Croatia with 10 points and Ukraine with 7 points. Three of the top 19 teams in the world, in terms of FIFA rankings, are in this group. If Croatia wins at home they should secure a World Cup berth.
Austria (70) at Serbia (20)
Serbia 1.35 Austria 8.00 Draw 4.20
Serbia is the surprise leader of Group 7 with 12 points followed by France with 10 points and Austria with 7 points. If Serbia wins this home game they will be playing next summer. Austria needs to pull off the upset to have any chance of going to South Africa.
Ireland (34) at Bulgaria (23)
Bulgaria 1.95 Ireland 3.50 Draw 3.20
This is a huge match in Group 8, as Ireland can take control of the group with a win and, pretty much, assure their spot in the World Cup, while the Bulgaria has to win at home to keep their South Africa hopes alive. Italy leads the group with 14 points and they are idle this Saturday. Ireland has 12 points in the group and Bulgaria has 7 points. Bulgaria has played one less game then Ireland, but if they lose or even draw they will not play in the World Cup unless Ireland or Italy stumble in upcoming games against weaker teams.
Norway (47) at Macedonia (64)
Macedonia 2.70 Norway 2.45 Draw 3.10
Norway was supposed to battle with Scotland in Group 9 for the second place in the group while Holland was thought to have an easy time advancing. While Holland is running away with the group with 15 points and Scotland is second with 7 points Norway has been a major disappointment in last place with only 2 points. However, they have only played 3 games and Macedonia has played 4 and Holland and Scotland have played 5. Norway has to win this away match or they will not be playing next summer.
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