World Cup qualifying tips: Swedes and Poles set for another close encounter
World Cup qualifying tips and odds
Two World Cup spots are up for grabs on Tuesday when Poland take on Sweden, and Portugal host North Macedonia who caused a massive shock by eliminating European champions Italy last week.
There are only two decisive play-offs being played instead of three, with Wales now set to meet the winner of June’s semi–final between Scotland and Ukraine, who remain at war with Russia.
Poland are at home in the one-off game in Chorzow and are 13/10 to book their flight to Qatar inside 90 minutes, but let’s look at some of the other options in our World Cup qualifying tips.
Poland v Sweden (Tue, 19.45, Sky Sports)
Poland have a few things in their favour ahead of Tuesday’s game, home advantage being one of them, but they were also given a free ride to the final when Russia were expelled from the tournament as part of the global outrage of their invasion of Ukraine.
In a hastily-arranged friendly, the Poles left Robert Lewandowski on the bench for the whole of Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Scotland at Hampden Park where substitute Krzysztof Piatek rescued a draw with a stoppage-time penalty.
Sweden were not afforded the luxury of a friendly as they were taken to extra time by Czech Republic on the same night when a wonderful team move finished off by substitute Robin Quaison sealed their place in the play-off final.
The Swedes, who welcome back Zlatan Ibrahimovic from suspension, have won their last six matches against Poland since 1999, the latest coming at Euro 2020 when Viktor Claesson’s stoppage-time winner sealed a 3-2 victory and a place in the last 16.
Lewandowski scored twice as the Poles fought back from two goals down to level in that game and he is 11/10 to find the net any time or 5/2 to break the deadlock.
Sweden may have a superb record against the Poles, but their win against the Czechs will have taken it out of them and another score draw at the end of 90 minutes looks an interesting prospect at 17/5 as the first of our World Cup qualifying tips.
Portugal v North Macedonia (Tue, 19.45, Sky Sports)
Portugal are back in Porto five days after they beat Turkey 3-1 in their semi-final although their clincher came in stoppage time and the visitors spurned the chance to level late on when 36-year-old skipper Burak Yilmaz sent a penalty over the bar and retired from international football immediately after the game.
Otavio put the Portuguese ahead with a rebound off the post and Diogo Jota doubled the lead with a powerful header only for Yilmaz to get the Turks back into the game, but after his miss from the spot, space opened up for the hosts and Matheus Nunes took advantage in a one-on-one in the dying embers of the game.
Portugal are just 1/6 to beat North Macedonia who were written off as no-hopers before their trip to Palermo where the game was heading to extra time after a goalless 90 minutes only for winger Aleksandar Trajkovski to seal a famous win with a superb stoppage-time strike.
The North Macedonians also defeated Germany away from home in qualifying for Euro 2020 and are 12/1 to pull off another shock win, 24/5 to draw or 3/1 in the double chance market.
As stunning as their victory was against the Italians, the home team had 34 shots on Thursday night, five of which were on target, and they had almost twice the amount of possession as North Macedonia.
Portugal have the weapons to hurt the visitors and a victory and under 3.5 goals at 20/23 wraps up our World Cup qualifying tips.
Although North Macedonia have the ability to beat big teams away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo and co will be absolutely focused on securing their spot in Qatar and the visitors’ results at Euro 2020, during which they lost every game, tell us more about their standing than a one-off win against Italy.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication