WC Qualifiers: Our ‘Picks of the Week’

25.03.22 – Cameroon vs Algeria – WC Qual. Africa

Algeria had a very disappointing AFCON finishing with only 1 point in Group E, whilst Cameroon made the podium after winning the third-place play-off match against Burkina Faso. The ‘Indomitable Lions’ were led by captain Vincent Aboubakar who finished the tournament as top scorer, winning the golden boot with 8 goals scored.

With these play-offs played out over two rounds Cameroon will know they have to do their absolute best at home before they travel to Algeria next week. On the other hand, Algeria will be looking to leave the horrible AFCON performances behind, and qualifying for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar would go a long way in doing so. As always most of their hopes lie on the shoulders of Man City’s star, Riyad Mahrez.

The home nation start with a 42% chance of winning the first leg, compared to a low 26% given to Algeria.

25.03.22 – Egypt vs Senegal – WC Qual. Africa

Senegal were crowned Champions of Africa in January after beating Egypt on penalties, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane getting to lift the trophy in front of his team-mate, and Egypt captain, Mohammed Salah. These two teams have now been drawn against each other in these World Cup qualifiers, meaning once again one of Liverpool’s forwards will miss the grand prize.

They head into this game at almost even odds, with the bookies still undecided who truly holds the edge in this one. As the AFCON final showed these two teams are both very well balanced, concede few goals and only a moment of genius, or luck, can make the difference.

The draw has the highest percentage (36%) of taking place here, which illustrates how tight this clash is expected to be with the advantage slightly tilting towards the home nation (32%).

25.03.22 – Ghana vs Nigeria – WC Qual. Africa

Napoli’s electric forward Victor Osimhen was sorely missed in the AFCON and his return will surely lift the ‘Super Eagles’ who start their qualifiers away from home against Ghana. The hosts themselves have a talented pool of players to pick from and as such hold a slight advantage heading into this one, given they get to play in front of their home crowd. Both nations, especially Ghana, had an AFCON to forget and will want to put that behind them by qualifying for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Many clubs, agents and scouts will be keeping an eye on this one.

With the draw and the away side winning having a 33% probability each of happening, and the home side win rated at 34%, this will be a tight one to call.

29.03.22 – Poland vs Sweden – WC Qual. Europe

Sweden’s extra time win against the Czech Republic on Thursday sees them face Poland on Tuesday, with the winner from this tie heading to the World Cup in Qatar come December. The Poles will be a tougher nut to crack and much more dangerous, as any side with Robert Lewandowski up top is, as the Bayern Munich striker continues to score goals for fun at 34 years of age. He’s arguably never played better. Sweden can count on a veteran striker of their own, a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who at 40 years of age is still a force of nature and can be the decisive man for Sweden. Unfortunately only one of these legends will make it to Qatar.

The Poles are being given a 40% chance of winning this one, compared to Sweden’s 31% with the draw having the remaining 29%.

29.03.22 – Portugal vs North Macedonia – WC Qual. Europe

A 3-1 win over Turkey on Thursday night sees Portugal face North Macedonia in a the final qualifying match, as the latter stunned the world on the same night by beating Italy with a goal in the 92nd minute. On paper Portugal, like Italy before them, will start as heavy favourites to go through but as we’ve seen we cannot rule North Macedonia out. At 37 years of age Cristiano Ronaldo heads into this game fully knowing this will most likely be his last chance to compete, and win, a World Cup and will be adamant to get his nation to Qatar. Whatever it takes. In crucial games like this one the Portuguese superstar usually comes out with the goods, and we wouldn’t bet against him doing that again.

Portugal are being rated at a 79% chance of winning this tie in regular time with the probability rising to 93% if you include extra time & penalties.

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