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World Cup Qualification Preview November 21

Italy vs Switzerland

The final round of World Cup qualifiers take place this weekend, with several teams taking one last shot at reaching the 2022 tournament. Only Denmark and Germany have qualified as group winners so far, which leaves plenty to play for regarding automatic places and play-offs. Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and Switzerland have all made the top two in their respective groups, but all will be pushing for the top spot over the next two weeks.

The current standing leaves more than 20 teams pushing for at least a play-off spot. Some big players on the international stage face must-win ties this weekend to put them in pole position, including Euro 2020 winners Italy and 2016 winners Portugal. Some surprise teams are also still in contention, with Romania and Iceland looking to qualify via the play-offs and Wales will also be looking to compete in their first World Cup since 1958.

All odds are from bet365 and subject to change.


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The Republic of Ireland vs Portugal

After losing their first three qualifiers, Ireland have steadied the ship in recent matches. They are unbeaten in their last three, including two home 1-1 draws against Azerbaijan and Serbia and a 3-0 away win in Azerbaijan. The results came too late for Stephen Kenny’s side, who are fourth and 11 places off Portugal in seconds place with no chance of qualification.

Portugal won their fourth consecutive World Cup Qualifier with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Luxembourg. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, while Bruno Fernandes and João Palhinha also got on the scoresheet. Portugal have also won six of their last seven away qualifiers, only dropping points in a 2-2 draw in Serbia. Fernando Santos’ side have a game in hand over Serbia, who lead Group A heading into the final round of fixtures.

James Collins and Aaron Connolly have been ruled out for Ireland. Portugal will be without Anthony Lopes, Rafa Silva and Joao Mario.

Portugal will be fully aware that a win in Ireland could put them ahead of Serbia, with the top two facing off next week in a potential decider. Ireland should provide a tough test, but Portugal are likely to get the win they need.

Republic of Ireland – 9/1

Portugal – 1/3

Draw – 4/1

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Romania vs Iceland

Romania beat Armenia 1-0 at home in a vital clash in their most recent qualifier. The result moved Romania above Armenia and North Macedonia into second place by one point ahead of the next round of fixtures. After losing two of their first three Group J fixtures, Romania have recovered and won three of their last five, including 2-0 wins against Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Iceland have been patchy in World Cup qualifiers and they secured just their second win in eight with a 4-0 home win against Liechtenstein last time out. The second win for Erik Hamren’s side also came against minnows Liechtenstein, while draws against North Macedonia and Armenia have given Iceland a slim chance of qualification. If they win their final two games, they have an outside chance of heading to a play-off tie

Claudiu Keseru and Alexandru Mitrita have been omitted from the Romania squad. Iceland have a fully fit squad and no suspensions.

Romania are in the driving seat heading into their final two matches and they should secure victory at home against a patchy Iceland side.

Romania – 8/15

Iceland – 11/2

Draw -3/1

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Italy vs Switzerland

Italy’s 37-match unbeaten run on the international stage was ended in the last round of fixtures as Spain defeated the Azzurri 2-1 in the Nations League semi-final. Roberto Mancini’s side were also unconvincing in their last round of qualifiers in September. 1-1 and 0-0 draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland came before a 5-0 win over Lithuania. Italy are level on points with second-place Switzerland (14), but top on goal difference.

Switzerland extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to eight following a comprehensive 4-0 against Lithuania in October. Murat Yakin’s side have won four of their qualifiers in Group C and have kept five consecutive clean sheets, including in a 0-0 home draw against group rivals Italy. Switzerland have guaranteed second place following their good form and they must win in Italy to secure an automatic place for the 2022 World Cup.

Nicolo Zaniolo, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Marco Verratti and Ciro Immobile are unavailable for Italy. Switzerland’s Nico Elvedi, Steven Zuber, Breel Embolo, Gregor Kobel, Christian Fassnacht, Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic are all ruled out.

Italy will make their home advantage count and they should see off a depleted Switzerland side to top the group.

Italy – 8/13

Switzerland – 9/2

Draw – 14/5

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Wales vs Belarus

After losing their opening game against Belgium, Wales have put together a five-match unbeaten run in Group E to put themselves in contention for a second-place finish. Robert Page’s side followed up consecutive draws with Estonia (0-0) and the Czech Republic (2-2) with a 1-0 win away in Estonia. Wales are level on points with the Czech Republic in second, but the Dragons have a game in hand against Belarus, who they defeated 3-2 in the reverse fixture in September.

Belarus have struggled in Group. They defeated Estonia 4-2 in their opening match, but have since lost their following six matches and failed to score in their last three. Mikhail Markhel’s side have also struggled away in World Cup qualifiers for some time. The Eastern European side have lost their last 14 away matches and they have scored just four goals during this run.

Dylan Levitt is injured and Ben Cabango withdrew from the Wales squad due to personal reasons. Pavel Sedko is Belarus’ only absentee.

Wales were nearly stunned by Belarus in their most recent meeting before Gareth Bale inspired the Dragons to a vital three points. Robert Page’s side are hard to beat at home and they should move up to the second place with a win.

Wales – 1/5

Belarus – 16/1

Draw – 11/2

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