These qualifiers are going a long way to deciding who will be in the draw for the World Cup group stages. Some teams are hanging on to hope of a playoff spot, while others are battling it out for that all-important group winners berth.
There are some thoroughly uninteresting fixtures, but there are a few that provide great betting intrigue. I took a look at three of those, and the odds can be found right here...
Iceland vs Ukraine
The European Championship success story are embroiled in one of the most fascinating qualifying groups. Group I is currently led by Croatia, who are on 16 points. Iceland are on 13, with Turkey on 11 and Ukraine on 14.
This one is going right down to the wire. These two drew in Kyiv to open the group, and – with Ukraine heading to Reykjavik on Tuesday – it’s hard to split the sides once again. A draw, which is at 21/10, does little for either side as they look to keep their hopes of a summer in Russia alive.
The flair and creativity of Gylfi Sigurdsson is vital for Iceland if they are to take a leap towards the World Cup. Defensive organisation will make it especially tricky for Ukraine to do damage, which makes under 2.5 goals a decent bet at 5/4. There have been just 16 goals in Iceland’s seven matches so far.
TIP: Iceland to win to nil at 7/1
Turkey vs Croatia
In a second massive Group I clash, Turkey host group leading Croatia. With the good form of Ukraine, the visitors cannot afford to drop points, and Turkey desperately need the three points if they are to have any chance of playing in Russia.
The immensely talented Croatian team should have enough in this one to take another significant step closer to World Cup qualification. Their 6/5 price is good value, especially given Turkey’s 2-0 defeat in Ukraine on Saturday.
The 1-1 between these two sides back in September will give the hosts hope. Croatia’s record in the group since then – which has seen them concede just one goal since – makes it so hard to look past the team led by the unrivalled Luka Modric.
TIP: Croatia to score over 1.5 and win at 4/1
Republic of Ireland v Serbia
Now we turn to Group E. This has the potential to be a scrap to the last match day, too.
Unbeaten Serbia lead the group, but head to Ireland to play the current second placed side. Separated by a mere two points, this is the chance for Martin O’Neill’s side to put themselves in the group’s pole position. With Wales only a further two points behind them after their win against Austria, defeat could leave Ireland in trouble.
Neither side have lost a match yet in this group stage. It has, however, been dominated by draws for all the teams. A thrilling 2-2 between this pair in Belgrade set the tone for the group, and Serbia would surely be delighted with another score draw at 5/1.
O’Neill will, as ever, aim to keep it tight. Their frustrating 1-1 with Georgia at the weekend showed the lack of creativity in this Ireland side, and it’s hard to see how they can shutout the Serbia attack, which has scored 16 in seven matches so far.
TIP: Both teams to score at 11/10