Our Sunday World Cup Qualifier Handicaps - 14/11/21

Ireland (-2) v Azerbaijan

After a disappointing campaign, Ireland enter the final round of fixtures as the only British team unable to progress to the next stage of qualification. After three defeats from three in their opening fixtures, Stephen Kenny’s side picked up five points in draws at home to Azerbaijan and Serbia, and an impressive 3-0 win away in the return leg in Azerbaijan.

Despite these good results, it was too little too late for Kenny’s outfit, as although they enter this round of fixtures undefeated in three matches, qualification is out of their reach. Nevertheless, Ireland may well be optimistic of continuing their good run of form when they travel to face Luxemburg on Sunday night and will hope to end the group with a win.

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Greece (-2) v Kosovo

Kosovo travel to Athens to face a Greek side that thanks to defeat in Sweden last time out, have seen their chances of progressing out of Group B vastly reduced, likely needing six points and other results to go their way for any hope of advancing.

That being said, prior to this defeat, Greece were undefeated in their first five fixtures, including an impressive draw on matchday one to Spain and a home win against the Swedes. Kosovo, on the other hand, have only picked up four points (1 win 1 draw) in Group B, and are on a three-match losing streak.

Albeit unlikely, with the slim chance of progression for Greece, they will likely attack a leaky Kosovo defence for the full 90 minutes knowing that every goal will count in this group.

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GREECE (-2) V KOSOVO @ 5/1

Armenia v Germany (-3)

Armenia play host to a Germany side who are one of two teams to already secure top spot prior to the final international break of this qualification process. Starting the campaign in excellent form, Armenia picked up 10 points from their opening four fixtures including wins against Liechtenstein, Iceland and a late turn-around to beat Romania 2-1.

Since then, the minnows have struggled. However, with the likelihood that Hansi Flick may field a second-string team with nothing to lose in this fixture, Armenia will be hopeful of picking up a better result than the 6-0 drubbing in the reverse fixture.

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Portugal (-2) v Serbia

On the final match-day of Group A, Portugal welcome an in-form Serbian outfit. Since drawing 2-2 to the Serbs, Fernando Santos’ side have won four on the bounce scoring 13 times whilst conceding only twice and boasting an 100% home record.

Serbia do, however, come into this fixture currently undefeated in the group having only dropped points to Portugal and Ireland. Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has been in fine form for club Manchester United after a summer move to Old Trafford and will hope to take his beloved Portugal side to the World Cup next year with much speculation that at 36, this could be his last major tournament in a red and green shirt.

With the magnitude of this fixture, Portugal will likely start a strong XI and may well fancy themselves to remind Serbia why until the summer, they were the reigning European champions.

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North Macedonia (-1) v Iceland

In the summer, North Macedonia made a long-awaited debut at a major tournament and have since continued the form that got them there, still in contention to book a play-off place for next year’s World Cup. With second-placed in Group G looking like a three-way fight between Romania, Armenia, and of course, North Macedonia, Igor Angelovski’s side will likely have all guns blazing when they welcome fellow minnow Iceland to the Toshe Proeski Arena.

Already out of the running for qualification, Iceland have nothing to play for and could fall victim to a highly motivated North Macedonia side going all out in a group that will come down to the wire.

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