How the Bookies See It
- Czech Republic v Northern Ireland: Czech Republic 8/11, Draw 13/5, Northern Ireland 15/4 – Bet365
- Malta v Scotland: Malta 7/1, Draw 7/2, Scotland 2/5 – Bet365
- Slovakia v England: Slovakia 29/10, Draw 23/10, England 1/1 – Sky Bet
- The Czech Republic last qualified for the World Cup in 2006. The current national team has played seven matches in 2016, drawing twice (against Croatia and Sweden), winning once (a 2-1 victory over Russia in June) and losing four times. Northern Ireland reached the Group Stage of the 1986 World Cup, and have failed to qualify since, but they did reach the Round of 16 in the 2016 European Championship, winning six of ten matches to qualify and then winning just one of four matches beyond that.
- Malta have never qualified for a World Cup, despite having had a bite at the cherry in each competition since 1974. They have also had a go at qualifying for the European Championship every four years since 1972, and have failed on each occasion. Scotland have reached the Group Stage of the World Cup eight times since 1954, with the most recent qualification being achieved in the 1998 competition.
- Slovakia have attempted to qualify for the World Cup five times since 1998, and have succeeded once. That was back in 2010, when the team went on to win one of five Round of 16 matches. Whilst they didn’t qualify for the 2014 World Cup, they did reach the Round of 16 in the 2016 European Championship. England has qualified for the World Cup 14 times, famously winning the competition in 1966. They most recently qualified in 2014, where they reached the Group Stage, and they have achieved a top 10 finish 11 times.
The form summaries just presented make it quite clear why the bookmakers have set their odds to favour the UK national teams playing on Wednesday. Barring any major surprises, we think that both Scotland and England should win their upcoming matches against Malta and Slovakia, but Northern Ireland will have a much tougher job against the Czech Republic. That said, Northern Ireland’s performance in the European Championship will have done a lot for team spirit, and they could well be poised to pull a surprise at the Czech Republic’s expense.
Scotland’s odds seem a bit on a low side for us, so we will side with England (which also happens to be the UK team with the best record in this competition) to give fans something to smile about on Wednesday night.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: England to beat Slovakia at 1/1 – Sky Bet
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.