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5 Handicap Bets for Friday's Internationals - 07/10/21

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Latvia vs Netherlands: Netherlands (-3)

After taking control of Group G during the last international break, the Netherlands now have two very winnable matches to come in October’s internationals, starting with a trip to Riga to face Latvia.

After the woeful reign of Frank de Boer came to an end, which saw them lose their opening qualifier to Turkey and then crash out of Euro 2020 in the last 16, Louis van Gaal has restored flair and confidence to the Dutch squad, shown by their brilliant results in the previous international break, a 6-1 win in the reverse fixture with Turkey being the highlight.

Those results have taken them top of the group and they face Latvia and Gibraltar during this international window, so qualification could be almost confirmed with their nearest rivals all playing each other. Latvia did improve somewhat in September, picking up four points from three games, and kept the score down to two against Norway, but the Dutch look a vastly better side than the one that beat them just 2-0 in March under de Boer.

Latvia have conceded 20 goals in 2021 while the Dutch scored 11 in their three internationals last month.

Germany vs Romania: Germany (-3)

Hansi Flick’s revitalised Germany side host play-off chasers Romania at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg on Friday, knowing a win will give Die Mannschaft a near unassailable lead at the top of Group J.

Life could not have started any better in the role for Flick as Germany won all three September internationals without conceding a goal, meaning they now have a four-point buffer over Armenia in second, the nation they beat 6-0 last month. Their only blip in qualifying so far remains that defeat to North Macedonia in March under Jogi Low, and a win here will see them go eight points clear of Romania, the side most likely to sustain a challenge to their qualification.

It may not be a cruise for Germany here though. Romania also did not concede a goal in September’s qualifiers, as they recovered from a defeat in Armenia in March to mount a charge up the group standings, and now sit just one point behind the playoff spot. A close game may be in store, but the first goal will be crucial, as both sides have won every qualifier in which they scored first, but lost all when they have conceded first.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Germany -3 v Lativa @ 21/10

Turkey vs Norway: Norway (-1)

The Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul hosts a crucial Group G encounter, as third-place Turkey face Norway who sit second behind the Dutch.

Turkey have not reached the World Cup finals since finishing third in 2002, and a defeat here will all but end any hopes they have of reaching the 2022 edition too. Their embarrassing performance at Euro 2020 carried through into September’s qualifiers, drawing 2-2 at home to Montenegro, before going down 6-1 in Amsterdam. Their only win in their last six was against Gibraltar, and they look a million miles away from the side that won 3-0 against Norway in March.

Erling Haaland will not be present for Norway this week, but their other attacking threats have shown the goalscoring touch in recent matches, plus their defence is the best in the group, with just five conceded in six games, compared to 13 for their opponents here. Norway’s wait for a return to the World Cup finals goes back even further to 1998, and this is the best chance they have had to make it since.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Norway -1 v Turkey @ 6/1

Gibraltar vs Montenegro: Montenegro (-3)

Gibraltar are one of just three sides in World Cup qualifying yet to win a single point, but they welcome a Montenegro side looking to recover from a woeful set of September qualifiers which all but ended any hopes of progression to the finals.

After achieving great success in the Nations League at the end of 2020, Gibraltar have crashed back down to Earth now they have been presented with very tough opposition again, conceding 31 goals in their eight fixtures this calendar year. Their only shutout was a 0-0 draw in a low-key affair with Andorra in June, while big defeats to Holland, Slovenia and Norway have shown they will need huge improvements if they are to survive in League C in the next edition of the Nations League.

A huge bonus for Montenegro is the return of Stevan Jovetic after he missed September’s matches through injury. His absence was notable in their 0-0 draw with Latvia, despite having 22 shots, no cutting edge cost them dearly. His individual performance when they beat Latvia in March was superb, scoring a stunning late winner after he equalised in the first half. Missing the last five internationals has been notable, considering Montenegro failed to win any of them.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Montenegro -3 v Gibraltar @ 6/4

Malta vs Slovenia: Slovenia (-1)

Two out-of-form nations go head-to-head in Ta’Qali at the national stadium of Malta, with Slovenia the visitors to the island, with the away side knowing four wins from their final four will be required to stay in contention in Group H.
Malta’s record improved drastically in 2020, winning four and drawing three of their eight internationals, but moving into 2021, with no Nations League, they have found it much tougher. Despite recording their biggest ever World Cup qualifying win over Cyprus last month, their form column is mainly filled with losses. They do not concede goals at the same volume as years gone by, but they have let in three to Russia, Croatia and Northern Ireland already this year.

After going four games unbeaten, Slovenia succumbed to Croatia 3-0 in their previous match, a result which now leaves them six points adrift of the top two. Inconsistency has cost them dearly with their defeat in Cyprus just days after beating Croatia in the reverse tie summing up how their campaign has gone.

However, a 1-0 win over Malta last month really should have been more, especially if Andraz Sporar scored his late penalty, and a 6-0 win over Gibraltar in a June friendly shows if they can get Josip Ilicic up to match fitness, they become a much more potent force in attack.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Slovenia (-1) v Malta @ 11/8