When there were several potential outcomes from the last matches of a group in major football tournaments the soon to be retired John Motson often said: “You need an abacus to work out this one”. There are still some if, buts and maybes surrounding tonight’s World Cup qualifier in Cardiff between Wales and Ireland but in simple terms if Wales win they qualify for the playoffs.
In fact if Wales win and Serbia do not beat Georgia at home they qualify for the World Cup finals as group winners. The most likely scenario is two home wins which means Ireland miss out but if they win tonight a playoff place is virtually assured as only the worst second place team are eliminated. The four home nations have never qualified for the same World Cup but Scotland are out so it won’t happen this time.
Wales are at number 13 in the current FIFA world rankings, 21 places ahead of Ireland. That makes them the form pick to win this match but the waters are muddied by the absence of one man. Gareth Bale is the national football team’s leader, best player and talisman. However, WALES beat Georgia last Friday without him and can get the job done in the capital tonight. You can back them at 11/8 with Ladbrokes to beat Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.
Croatia, Ukraine and Iceland are battling it out for qualification from their group. It’s feasible that all three nations could win the group or finish second. However, Iceland should beat Kosovo at home which means the fixture between Ukraine and Croatia is a playoff to reach the playoffs. Home advantage can help UKRAINE win the match.
The racing today is moderate but there is a half decent handicap at Pontefract at 2.55. HEATONGRAD is an improving animal who likes soft going which he gets today. The horse can defy a penalty to win for the fourth time this season so is the standout racing bet of the day and backable at 10/3 with William Hill.