How the Bookies See it
- Wales v Serbia: Wales 6/5, Draw 23/10, Serbia 23/10 - Paddy Power
- Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan: N Ireland 13/20, Draw 27/10, Azerbaijan 11/2 - BetVictor
- Austria v Rep of Ireland: Austria Evens, Draw 11/5, Rep of Ireland 10/3 - William Hill
- Wales are looking to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958 and started their campaign in style, cruising to a 4-0 win over Moldova. However, the Dragons, who enjoyed a spectacular summer at Euro 2016, soon hit a bump in the road as they twice surrendered a lead against Austria, before a desperately disappointing 1-1 draw with Georgia in Cardiff dealt their hopes of qualification an early blow. Serbia, on the other hand, have made a great start in their attempts to reach a first international tournament since 2010 and currently sit top of Group D. The Eagles began with a draw against the Republic of Ireland before victories over Moldova and Austria.
- Northern Ireland were handed a devilishly difficult qualifying group, but they are managing to hold their own thus far. A commendable 0-0 draw in Prague against a strong Czech Republic side was followed by a routine thumping of Group C whipping boys San Marino. However, the Green and White Army couldn’t quite build on their impressive start as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of world champions Germany. Their opponents, Azerbaijan, have proved to be the dark horse of this group so far, winning their games against San Marino and Norway and picking up a point against the Czechs. The men from the east are also one of only four sides yet to concede in the qualifying process.
- Republic of Ireland have started their qualification quest positively and are unbeaten after three games. A 2-2 draw with Serbia was followed by a narrow 1-0 win over Georgia and victory over bottom-of-the-table Moldova. The Boys in Green, who last graced a World Cup in 2002, currently find themselves only goal difference away from topping the group, but face a potentially difficult task this weekend. Austria were tipped to fly at Euro 2016, but were instead dumped out in the group stages. The side, who were ranked tenth in the FIFA rankings in June, now find themselves in 30th following a mixed start that included victory over Georgia, a draw with Wales and defeat at the hands of Serbia.
Wales were tipped as early favourites to reach the World Cup in 2018, but the Dragons currently find themselves two points adrift of their next opponents, Serbia. Nevertheless, Chris Coleman’s side are fancied by the bookmakers to triumph on Saturday, with William Hill offering odds of 6/4. However, given Wales’ run of results so far, and the emergence of a reasonably strong Serbian outfit, punters may be more tempted to favour the draw, priced at 23/10 with Paddy Power.
Northern Ireland may have entered their latest qualification process with hope of progressing, but Michael O’Neill’s men have just one win in their last five games, despite a run of pleasing performances. The Green and White Army are tipped to beat Azerbaijan (4/6 with William Hill), but don’t be surprised if the side currently ranked 88th in the world are able to snuff out the goal threat posed by Kyle Lafferty and Conor Washington. A goalless draw looks to be good value at 6/1 with BetVictor, especially given the away side’s recent run of clean sheets.
The Republic of Ireland have taken to life in Group D like a duck to water and are going in search of their third straight victory. However, Austria, despite their recent fall from grace, are a team not to be underestimated and are rightly being tipped as favourites for this game. Ireland will need to show the same passion that has secured them seven well-deserved points from a possible nine if they are to get anything from this game. An Austrian win would be the safe bet at evens with Bet365, but don’t rule out an Irish victory, handsomely priced at 10/3 with William Hill.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Wales and Serbia Draw - 23/10 with Paddy Power
*Please note that odds may fluctuate in the run-up to kick-off.