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World Cup Qualification Preview October 21

Czech Republic vs Wales

The 2022 World Cup qualifiers are coming to a header with just four more rounds of fixtures for nations to claim their place in Qatar.

Several teams are one victory or point away from reaching the World Cup. Portugal can qualify in the next matchday if they defeat Luxembourg, while Denmark and Belgium can take a step towards qualification if results go their way.  There are close races across the board as many teams battle it out for second-place finishes or playoff spots.

In Group C, Switzerland and Northern Ireland are battling for second place, and they meet this weekend. Group D is also a close-run contest with four teams, including Finland and Ukraine, battling for a qualification place after France have dominated the group after an impressive run in September. Wales, Scotland, Norway, and Turkey are also keeping chase in their respective groups, and they must win their next two fixtures to keep within touching distance of the 2022 World Cup.

All odds are from bet365 and subject to change.


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Czech Republic vs Wales

The Czech Republic have been in inconsistent form after reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2020. The Czechs recorded a routine 1-0 win against Belarus before losing 3-0 against Belgium and drawing 1-1 at home to Ukraine. Jaroslav Šilhavý’s side are strong at home and are unbeaten in their last six, winning four.

Wales have been hard to beat since Robert Page took charge, and the Dragons have lost just two of their last 11 matches in all competitions. Wales took four points from their last two qualifiers a late Gareth Bale goal saw them defeat Belarus 3-2 away before a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Estonia. Away form has been more of an issue for Page’s side as they have won just two of their last seven.

Czech Republic have no injuries or suspensions. Wales will be without talisman Gareth Bale (hamstring), Rhys Norrington-Davies, and Tom Lockyer.

Czech Republic will be tough to beat at home, and Wales will miss Bale’s threat in attack. The Czechs could record a narrow victory.

Czech Republic – 7/10

Wales – 17/4

Draw – 5/2

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Turkey vs Norway

Turkey’s poor form has continued after their disastrous Euro 2020 run. The Crescent Stars were hammered 6-1 by the Netherlands in their last World Cup Qualifier. Their only recent points have come from a disappointing 2-2 draw with Montenegro and a comfortable 3-0 defeat against Gibraltar. Turkey’s home form has been more stable, and they are on an 11-match unbeaten run at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium.

Norway’s three-match unbeaten run in Group G has put them back in contention for World Cup qualification. Ståle Solbakken’s side drew 1-1 with the Netherlands before a 2-0 win against Latvia and a 5-1 victory over Gibraltar. Norway are in good form in World Cup qualifiers, winning six of their last eight. However, the only side to defeat the Lions in their last eight was Turkey, who won 3-0 in the reverse fixture in March.

Berkan Kutlu is ruled out for Turkey due to suspension. Norway striker Erling Haaland is a doubt with a muscular injury. Fredrik Midtsjö (knock) and Stian Gregersen (suspended) are also unavailable.

Turkey will hope their home form will give them the advantage to close the gap on Norway in second. But Solbakken’s side are in decent form, and a draw is likely.

Turkey – 11/10

Norway – 12/5

Draw – 12/5

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Finland vs Ukraine

Finland’s recent form has dipped after they played in their first Euros during this summer. Markku Kanerva’s side are winless in 10 of their last 12 in all competitions, but their 1-0 win against Kazakhstan in the last round of World Cup qualifiers keeps them in with a chance of qualifying in the second spot. Finland have been tough to beat at home, losing just one of their last six in all competitions in Helsinki.

Ukraine have recorded three straight draws following their quarter-final run in Euro 2020. The Eastern European side drew 2-2 away in Khazakstan before holding France to a 1-1 stalemate in Group D. They then drew 1-1 against the Czech Republic in a friendly. Ukraine have become draw specialists in recent months, and they are yet to win a 2022 World Cup qualifier, drawing all five of their matches to remain second on goal difference.

Finland and Ukraine both have fully fit squads and no suspensions.

Finland and Ukraine are out of form, and the two sides are set for another Group D draw.

Finland – 5/2

Ukraine – 23/20

Draw – 11/5

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Switzerland vs Northern Ireland

Switzerland remain in decent form after going unbeaten in their last three matches. Murat Yakin’s beat Greece 2-1 in a friendly before back-to-back 0-0 draws against Italy and Northern Ireland in World Cup qualifiers. Switzerland have only lost one match within 90 minutes in their last 15, and they have won 15 of their last 19 World Cup qualifiers.

Northern Ireland’s 4-1 win against Lithuania and 0-0 draw against Switzerland in the last round of qualifiers helped them to keep chase with qualifying from Group C. Ian Baraclough’s side are unbeaten in five of their last six matches in all competitions and they have drawn three of their last five World Cup qualifiers.

Switzerland midfielder Rubén Vargas is ruled out through illness. Trevor Carson (fitness), Michael Smith (knock) Alistair McCann (ankle), Gavin Whyte (calf), and Shayne Lavery (shoulder) are unavailable for Northern Ireland.

Switzerland have plenty of quality to overcome a Northern Ireland side who are struggling with injuries.

Switzerland – 3/10

Northern Ireland – 10/1

Draw – 4/1

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