Qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Qatar reaches its conclusion in the current international break so, starting with England and the other home nations then working through each Group in alphabetical order, here’s everything you need to know.
Three Lions a shoo-in to seal qualification
England need four points from their two remaining qualifiers and, fortunately for Gareth Southgate’s men both are against team’s they have steamrollered already in this campaign. That explains why England are unbackable to win Group I ahead of Friday’s home match against Albania, which the hosts are 1.132/15 to win.
On Monday, England will travel to San Marino, where the visitors will surely book their place in Qatar.
Poland are three points behind England and look like they’re in a strong position for a play-off spot. Odds of 1/20 to indicate that Robert Lewandowski and co. will finish second.
Scotland’s fate is in their hands
A brilliant run of four consecutive wins has brought Scotland to the precipice of a play-off place. Group F leaders Denmark have already sealed top spot and the Scots are four points clear of third-placed Israel.
The Scots are 1/9 to finish second and have the perfect opportunity to confirm it when they go to group whipping boys Moldova (just one point from eight matches) on Saturday.
Wales competing with Czechs for second place
Wales and the Czech Republic are level on points in second and third respectively in Group E. Both are 5/6 to finish in the top two, with Belgium five points clear in first place. Wales host Belarus on Saturday and are 1.232/9 for the win. It’s vital that Robert Page’s men take three points there as their final match is a trip to Belgium on Tuesday.
Group A – Serbia and Portugal on course for winner-takes-all clash
Portugal are 1.132/15 to win Group A even though they are a point behind leaders Serbia 6.05/1 heading into the final round of matches. In part, that’s because Cristiano Ronaldo and co. have a game in hand. They will be determined to win when they play Ireland in Dublin on Thursday and, on the Exchange, they are 1.364/11 to exactly that.
A win against Ireland would mean Portugal go two points clear before their winner-takes-all clash with Serbia in Lisbon on Monday. That could be the match of this international break.
Group B – Spain favourites to oust Sweden from top spot
Spain are 1.42/5 to finish top even though Sweden 3.211/5 are two points clear with two to play.
Both are expected to win their away matches on Thursday – against Georgia and Greece respectively – before an almighty group decider on Sunday. At least it should decide who finishes top: Greece are four points adrift of second-placed Spain but not mathematically out of contention.
Group C – Italy and Switzerland to battle it out in Rome
Another group where the two leading contenders for top spot will play each other. Italy are 1.211/5 to win this one with Switzerland 5.39/2. Both have 14 points and are comfortably clear of Bulgaria in third.
Italy host Switzerland in Rome on Saturday. The last time they met it finished 0-0 but Roberto Mancini’s men beat the Swiss 3-0 en route to Euro 2020 glory in the summer and are 1.635/8 to take a vital three points this time.
Group D – France set to qualify while trio compete for second place
France are heavy odds-on to win this group but the race for second is well and truly alive. Ukraine, Finland and Bosnia are all competing for a play-off place, although Andriy Shevchenko’s men have played a game more.
For that reason, there will be plenty at stake when Bosnia host Finland on Saturday. Ukraine are 11/8 favourites to finish second and they will be rested before they go to Bosnia on Tuesday.
Group G – Netherlands odds-on to claim top spot
The Netherlands are 1.152/13 to top Group G but they are only two points ahead of Norway who they will host in their final match.
Norway are 4/5 to finish second, although Turkey – two points adrift of Erling Haaland and co. – are the same price. Of the two, Turkey look to have the easier remaining fixtures with Turkey hosting Gibraltar then going to Montenegro.
Group H – Croatia need to overtake Russia
You wouldn’t want Luka Modric to miss out on a final World Cup, would you? You may if you’re Russian because Russia and Croatia are locked in a battle at the top of Group G. After eight matches, Russia lead by two points. However, Modric and his team-mates are 1.9210/11 to win the group while Russia are evens.
Group J – Three-way battle for second place
Germany are improving after new manager Hansi Flick and have already booked their place in Qatar.
Behind them in Group J, Romania 1/2, North Macedonia 15/8 and Armenia 16/1 are competing for second place.
North Macedonia are narrow odds-against favourites to beat Armenia on Thursday, while Romania are 1.645/8 to hold on to second place by beating Iceland the same day.
You can read previews and get tips for the final round of World Cup qualifiers on Betting.Betfair from Wednesday.