World Cup Qualifying 2018: Who’s hot and who’s not
The domestic season may have ended, but it’s a crucial period for international sides as they bid to make next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
For the UEFA contingent, the qualification period enters its second half, and time is quickly running out for several sides.
So ahead of the next round of qualifiers, we’ve picked out three nations who are in blistering form, and three who can only dream of such success right now.
Let’s be honest, when are Germany not on form? At their current rate, Joachim Low’s side are on course to score 40 goals, concede just two and pick up a perfect 30 points.
They still have to visit the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland, but it’s pretty likely the Germans will be one of the first teams to confirm their spot in Russia.
Belgium’s golden generation came up short in France last year, but they look an unstoppable force now under new coaching duo Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry.
Their 22 goals scored is a tournament high, and though they needed a last minute equaliser at home to Greece, the Belgians are set to breeze through qualification.
Bonus point if you can name the only side other than Germany with a perfect record in qualifying. That’s right.
Technically Switzerland didn’t even lose in last summer’s Euros, going out on penalties, so the Swiss are unbeaten in their last 12 competitive fixtures. That run includes a fine 2-0 win over reigning Euro kings Portugal too.
Behind Poland, Group E is an open goal for Denmark to reach the play-offs. But at the halfway point they sit third, having lost twice while scoring only seven times.
The Danes lost at home to Montenegro, were given a scare by Kazakhstan, and could only muster a 0-0 draw with Romania.
Austria were everyone’s underdog tip for last summer’s Euros, having waltzed through qualifying with 28 points from a possible 30.
But they failed to deliver in France and it appears they’ve taken that form with them. They sit fourth in Group D, have lost twice already and needed two late goals to see off minnows Moldova.
Finland, remember them? The guys who troubled England at the turn of the century, and who beat Wales home and away in qualifying for 2010?
Sadly the Finns haven’t built on their promise. They picked up five wins in each of qualifying for 2006 and 2010, but sit joint-bottom of Group I – alongside debutants Kosovo – with one point from five games.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing