WALES look to continue the feel-good factor surrounding them at the moment when they take on Austria on Thursday. Chris Graham (@ChrisGraham79) has the odds.
Austria v Wales | Thursday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
After a glorious couple of months basking in their Euro 2016 exploits and an easy pipe opener against Moldova, Wales now have to get serious as they travel to Austria on Thursday night.
Group D looks an absolute fiend with Serbia and Republic Of Ireland also joining this pair in the section. There’s no doubt sides will take points off each other unexpectedly throughout the 13 months and that may occur here on Thursday.
There already seems to be a bit of bad blood between the sides with Austria coach Marcel Koller claiming Wales were lucky during the summer. Chris Coleman has inevitably ploughed in to refute that.
Four months on it’s still hard to get one’s head around Austria at the Euros. One point out of nine was a poor return against Portugal, Iceland and Hungary. Ironically the side they took their point from went on to win the championships.
Perhaps they got stage fright? There have been dark horses in the past who’ve turned up at championships and found the pressure all too much. Colombia in the 1994 World Cup springs to mind.
You could also make a case that their qualifying group really wasn’t up to much. Finishing above Russia and Sweden hardly says much when you consider how poor they were in France.
Whatever the causes, they go again here for a place in the World Cup in 2018 and after a decent 2-1 win in Georgia they welcome Wales with a 100% record.
The Welsh also have that record after an easy 4-0 win over Moldova last month and while their opponents hardly strike fear into most nations hearts it was a romp for the Welsh.
While it’s going to be a tough year ahead for them to qualify for the World Cup, there’s a real feeling that the bond and chemistry of this side is alive. Manager Chris Coleman’s refusal to court Premier League managerial vacancies also bodes well.
Wales performed well on the road in Euro 2016 qualifying with a 3-0 win in Israel and a draw in Belgium the highlight. Austria to their credit won four of their five home games in qualifying but three of those wins were just by the odd goal.
I think we’ll see a tight, testing encounter here and it’s no surprise to see Under 2.5 Goals chalked up as short as 4/7. That paid out in four of Austria’s five home qualifiers and indeed in two of their three Euro 2016 matches.
Wales leaked just four goals in qualifying for Euro 2016 and seven of their 10 matches paid out on Unders. Coleman will surely play a conservative game on Thursday night.
I’m going pin my hopes and stakes on Wales getting something from this match and will be backing the No Goalscorer and 1-1 Correct Score. Expect this gritty outfit to continue to ride the good vibes of their French summer.
Austria v Wales – No Goalscorer (7/1 William Hill)
Austria v Wales – 1-1 Draw (23/4 Unibet)