Strong start could see Home Nations break 60-year record
There can be little doubt that Home Nations football is on the rise.
Although England’s Euro 2016 campaign was the stuff of nightmares, the closing gap between the Three Lions and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland is becoming more and more evident.
In France earlier this summer the Dragons shone with their storied trip to the semi-finals. But Northern Ireland facing off against them in the round-of-16 was arguably just as big an achievement.
All three nations now sit inside the top 30 of Fifa’s world rankings, with Wales leading the way one place outside the top 10, England in 13th and Michael O’Neill’s outfit in 28th.
Scotland, the only Home Nation not to qualify for the Euros, appear some way behind the pack in 51st place.
However, after a strong 5-1 win over Malta to kick off their bid to reach the 2018 World Cup, there’s renewed hope that for the first time since 1958 all four Home Nations will participate at the same major tournament.
Back then it was the World Cup in Sweden that saw all four sides compete and we go 25/1 that the trick is repeated in Russia some 60 years later.
At the time of writing all bar Northern Ireland are in position to make good on that price, but after just one match played in the campaign ultra-confidence in the bet landing would be misplaced.
Both Wales and Scotland sit in top spot of their groups thanks to their heavy opening-day wins, while England occupy second place behind the Scots on goal difference.
After a goalless draw with Czech Republic, Northern Ireland are out of qualifying position but would probably only be eyeing a route to the playoffs with Germany favoured to secure top spot in Group C.
In addition to pricing up the Home Nations’ collective chances of qualification, we also go 5/2 that the Republic of Ireland qualify out of Group D.
Martin O’Neill’s men opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw away to Serbia.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.