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Our Handicap Tips for Friday's Internationals - 12/11/21

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England vs Albania: England (-3)

With San Marino awaiting England in their final qualifier next week, Gareth Southgate’s side can all but guarantee automatic qualification with a result at Wembley against an Albania side chasing Poland in second.

Four points are all that is needed to see England safely into the World Cup, but anything less than six points from their two internationals this week will be a huge surprise. Despite slip-ups to Hungary and Poland in the last two international windows, England have often made light work of the smaller nations across Europe in recent qualifications campaigns.

Albania’s defeat at home to Poland in their last qualifier all but ended any hopes they had of making it into the play-offs ahead of the Poles, as Poland’s fixtures are extremely favourable compared to Albania’s, while also sitting two points ahead. Despite putting up a good showing in this group, they are not as good as the team who reached the Euro 2016 finals, and they were comfortably beaten by England in the reverse tie back in March.

England have recorded numerous high-scoring wins already this year, with five wins by four or more goals in 2021.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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England (-3) v Albania @ 11/4

Moldova vs Scotland: Moldova (+2)

A win in the early kick-off for Scotland on Friday away in Moldova will be enough to secure a play-off spot ahead of Israel, who do not play until later on.

Scotland enjoyed leaving it late in their two huge October qualifiers, scoring 94th and 86th-minute winners over Israel and Faroe Islands, respectively, leaving them in a very handsome position coming into their penultimate Group F match with Moldova in Chisinau. With just two games to play they are four points clear of Israel in third, but Denmark’s stunning record in the group means they are already unassailable at the top, so a play-off spot is the sole ambition from here.

However, apart from a 4-0 win at home to the Faroes in September, they have not been ruthless in putting teams away when given the chances. They have won their last four matches in a row, but all of them were by a one-goal margin, including the reverse tie with Moldova at Hampden Park in September. Moldova are unlikely to cause Scotland many troubles, but they have scored in two of their last three matches and three of their last four defeats have been by just a single goal.

In Scotland’s last ten games, when giving their opponent a (+2) handicap, they would have lost every match, hence, Moldova (+2) offers good value here at 11/10. If Scotland are to win, it will likely be another tight affair.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Moldova (+2) v Scotland @ 11/10

Andorra vs Poland: Poland (-4)

With Albania facing the daunting task of going to Wembley, Poland travel to Andorra knowing that a win will most likely secure a play-off spot at least from Group I.

Poland were very poor at Euro 2020, but they have been near perfect in qualifying since the summer, picking up 13 points from a possible 15, a draw with England being the only game they have not won in that time. They have also scored 18 goals in those five matches and not been totally reliant on Robert Lewandowski to score either, as eight different players have contributed to that goal tally.

Andorra have won two matches in a single qualifying campaign for the first time in their history, but both came against San Marino, and they remain the only points they have picked up in the group. Their record in the other six matches they have played reads: two goals scored, 19 conceded, zero points.

Poland recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Andorra in the reverse fixture in March, and with their form picking up since then, they could rack up even more goals here.

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Poland (-4) v Andorra @ 3/1

Denmark vs Faroe Islands: Denmark (-4)

Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark will be determined to continue their sensational qualifying record when the Faroe Islands travel to Copenhagen, with Kasper Hjulmand’s side looking for a ninth win and ninth clean sheet from nine games.

An unprecedented record could be up for grabs for the Danes if they navigate their final two qualifiers professionally, by winning all ten without conceding a goal, starting with the Faroes on Friday and then a Scotland side who may already have a play-off spot secured by the time they face off in the final qualifier. They have also scored goals at a phenomenal rate, with 27 notched in their eight qualifiers.

Other than picking up four points against Moldova, the Faroe Islands have lost all of their other qualifiers in Group F, scoring just once. Against a defence as stubborn as Denmark’s, do not expect them to pose much of a threat, as they focus on keeping the goals out at the other end.

Despite only winning 1-0 away to the Faroes, they did that with a much-changed squad during a triple-header week, so a stronger side may be selected here on home soil.

By Andrew Delaney

World Cup Qualifiers Predictions

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Denmark (-4) v Faroe Islands @ 21/10

Italy vs Switzerland: Italy (-1)

European champions Italy and Switzerland come into this crunch clash in Group C with identical points tally’s after six games apiece, so it is seemingly a winner-takes-all encounter, with easier challenges to come in the final fixtures for both sides.

After suffering a bit of a Euro 2020 hangover by drawing with Bulgaria and Switzerland in September, normal business resumed for Italy in the Nations League finals last month, when a harsh first-half red card cost them against Spain, before beating Belgium in the third-place play-off. Those two draws mean they now face two very nervy qualifiers which they need to win if they want to avoid any repeats of the debacle which saw them finish second in their 2018 World Cup qualifying group before losing to Sweden in the play-offs.

The Swiss enjoyed a very good European Championships too, famously knocking France out in the Last 16 before being edged out by Spain on penalties. A draw in Belfast though means they will most likely need to win here if they are to stand a good chance of winning the group, but their last trip to Italy was not that long ago, and it did not end well; a 3-0 defeat in the Euro 2020 group stage.

Italy usually show up when it matters, and they will know the importance of this game having witnessed the horrors of not qualifying in 2018. Italy (-1) is 7/4.