WILL DYER is back in the WLB stable, here he delivers his favourite fancies from Saturday night's UEFA World Cup qualifying coupon.
Faroe Islands v Latvia | Saturday 7th October 2017, 17:00 | Sky Sports
Neither of these nations can qualify for the World Cup now (if either had it would have been an achievement up there with Leicester City’s recent Premier League title) but that doesn’t put me off a selection.
Faroe Islands are on their third Danish manager and all three have been arguably successful in their stints with the Landsliðið. Current boss Lars Olsen has just over a 20% win ratio which isn’t a bad return when managing minnows.
The Faroes hold a 100% record over just four nations; Gibraltar, Leichtenstein, San Marino and finally Saturday’s opponents Latvia. Their solitary win over this weekend’s guests came in the reverse fixture of this World Cup qualifying campaign when winning 2-0 in Riga on the exact same date last year.
It’s true Latvia are not a scalp but that two-goal margin betters results recorded by the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey at the Skonto stadium recent years and it was no smash and grab.
Latvia have been on the international football scene since 1922 and qualified for Euro 2004 so recent campaigns can be considered massive disappointments. Propping up Group B when couple with both Andorra and the Faroe Islands points to wholesale problems.
The Red-White-Red are still captained by ex-QPR Kaspars Gorkss but he’s now 35 and long-term keeper Andris Vanins is 37. There doesn’t appear to be much talent coming through the ranks aside from youngster Valerijs Sabala who has almost all the goal-scoring hopes pinned on him, he has a very respectable record of 10 goals in 33 caps.
I’d have the Faroes Islands down as closer to Even money favourites but 17/10 is available for the home win. I’m more inclined though to have the draw as security; this is a dead rubber so testing formations and strategies could be on the cards. Therefore, it’s Faroes Islands +0.0 on the Asian Handicap for me at 5/6 with BetVictor.
Sweden v Luxembourg | Saturday 7th October 2017, 17:00 | Sky Sports
Luxembourg defied a magnificent France side last time out in Toulouse. The hosts failing to win at 1/100 and the visitors even having a late effort by Gerson Rodrigues strike the post. As a result, they seem mightily underrated at 66/1 in places to beat Sweden.
The Red Lions have scored in five of their eight 2018 World Cup qualifiers with goals against Bulgaria, France, Belarus and Netherlands; meaning that the only team in the group they have so far failed to score against is this weekend’s opposition, Sweden.
With five wins in their last seven internationals in all competitions, Sweden look to be rejuvenated. Life after Zlatan Ibrahimović was always going to be tough and, with no superstar waiting in the wings to replace the great man, we could have expected a couple of failed campaigns. That’s not been the case though.
The Blue and Yellow appear to have gelled around a team ethic. Victor Lindelöf and Emil Forsberg are two very promising young players, already plying their trades for top-class clubs. There’s a fair sprinkle of experience in the team too and overall it appears having less of an overreliance on one man has brought success.
Sweden have failed to qualify for either of the last two World Cups and, if they are to prevent that extending to three for the first time in their history, they need to defy France automatic qualification.
Their game against the Netherlands on Tuesday will be pivotal should France do the unthinkable and slip up. However you frame it, this game against Luxembourg is huge and that pressure could be tough to cope with against a plucky side that aren’t afraid to get forward.
Luxembourg’s biggest asset is their striking corps. Head Coach Luc Holtz had six forwards to choose from with international goals to their names, he’s gone with Daniel da Mota, Aurelien Joachim and David Turpel. Joachim has four goals in this campaign alone.
The average age of the 23-man Luxembourg squad is a remarkable 24 years old – not one of the 10 midfielders called up being older than 27. It spells pace and energy and I think based upon their exceptional result against France, albeit riding their luck at times, they are well worth supporting.
Instead of backing the visitors on any handicaps I’m opting for a goals based bet. Both Teams To Score is the bet for me at a massive 12/5 with Bet365.
Andorra v Portugal | Saturday 7th October 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports Red Button
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in 8 games in this World Cup qualifying campaign and, despite failing to score far in this season’s La Liga, I’m keen to back the Seleccao talisman here.
Ronaldo hammered four past hapless Andorra last year and his goals in the Champions League last week are a reminder (if anyone needed it) that he’s still got it nearing his 33rd birthday. He’ll be frustrated by his and Real Madrid’s start to the season though, so shooting practice against the minnows from the Pyrenees will be more than welcome.
This is also a must win game for the European champions. Switzerland currently hold top spot in Group B with a three-point cushion over Ronaldo and co.
The group culminates in a showdown between the sides on Tuesday and with goal-difference likely to be the decider, expect Ronaldo to take no prisoners. I’ll back him to score a brace at 10/11 with Skybet.