World Cup Qualifiers: Goals forecast for Saturday’s blockbuster

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ADAM Goodwin (@agjournalism) shares his betting views on Saturday’s best World Cup qualifying bets from across the continent.

Finland v Iceland | Saturday 2nd September 2017, 17:00 | Sky Sports

Two Nordic teams will go head-to-head at the Ratina Stadium on Saturday. Despite Iceland having a population 15 times smaller than Finland, they’re in a lot better form than the Eagle-owls heading into this one.

Iceland have only lost three of their 11 games since Euro 2016, and most recently they recorded an impressive win at home to Croatia. New Everton signing Gylfi Sigurdsson is the focal point of their team, but Alfred Finnbogason’s unselfish hold-up play benefits Sigurdsson in his role just behind the striker.

Finland, on the other hand, haven’t won at home in seven games and have already been eliminated from Group I. Their trouble in qualifying has been finding the net, only scoring three goals in six games.

The three strikers they’ve called up to the squad for the two qualification games have played a combined total of 68 games, but have only scored one goal between them. This doesn’t bode well for their current goalscoring drought.

Regardless of the fact Finland are at home, I can’t see them winning this one. Their lack of goals and home form is a worry, and when an Iceland side – still high on their Euro 2016 achievements – come to town, I can see another defeat looming.

Iceland to win ‘to nil’ is 2/1 with Sk Bet.

Serbia v Moldova | Saturday 2nd September 2017, 17:00 | Sky Sports

It’s top vs bottom in Group D on Saturday, and I can’t see a shock on the cards.

Serbia’s squad for their upcoming qualification games is full of recognisable names, such as Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic. And for a long time now, I’ve felt that this group of players has been underperforming.

They’ve got some brilliant players in their ranks and a manager who has plenty of experience, in Slavoljub Muslin. Perhaps this is the year when they finally fulfil that potential, after their unbeaten start to their qualifying campaign.

Moldova suffered a 3-0 defeat at home to Serbia in October last year and I can see a similar fate on Saturday. Serbia scored 3+ at home to Austria, Macedonia and Wales within the last few years, all of whom are a lot better than this Moldova side.

Moldova have already conceded 15 goals in Group D in qualification, and that’ll probably be a few more come Friday evening. Serbia to score three or more goals is 20/23 with Coral.

Spain v Italy | Saturday 2nd September 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports

In arguably game of the weekend, Spain and Italy will battle it out, to see who can gain the upper hand at the top Group G. Both sides are on exactly the same points, and a 1-1 draw in Turin in the reverse fixture means this match is crucial in deciding who will qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Spain have called up New York City’s David Villa for the first time in three years and Chelsea outcast Diego Costa has been left out of the squad. La Roja have scored 21 goals in their six group games and bagged in every game since Julen Lopetegui took over from Vicente Del Bosque.

Marco Asensio has been in scintillating form for Real Madrid and Spain will be relying on him to perform at national level too.

When Antonio Conte left the Italian national side to join Chelsea last season, most people worried that whoever replaced him, wouldn’t be able to replicate the success Conte achieved.

But Gian Pierro Ventura has done a great job since taking over, making use of the experience he has available to him.

Neither team can afford to lose this game and I think that means goals could be on the agenda. As soon as one team scores, the other will have to chase the game, which could lead to an open, free-flowing game at the Bernabéu. Over 2.5 Goals is 29/20 with Bet Victor and I think that’s a cracking price.

Best Bets

Finland v Iceland – Iceland to win ‘to nil’ (2/1 SkyBet)

Serbia v Moldova – Serbia to score three or more goals (20/23 Coral)

Spain v Italy – Over 2.5 Goals (29/20 BetVictor)

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