Russia is cruising towards what appears to be an easy qualification from a group that had Portugal as main favorites. The team won all four games so far, and are the bookies’ favorites to expand their winning streak with a victory over Northern Ireland this evening.
Match: Northern Ireland vs Russia
Bet: Northern Ireland 1:0 Asian Handicap
Odds: Pinnacle Sports 2.00
The visitors have a three points lead over the runner ups and what’s more important is that they have narrowly won the home game against Portugal. The defense is rock solid and the best proof is that the Eastern Europeans haven’t conceded a goal so far. At least in theory, coach Capello cold field the best starting 11 but the Italian knows better than to push his players to the limit before a critical fixture.
The Russians will be traveling to Portugal next week for what is arguably the most important match of this group, and they will need to play their a game to earn a point. A narrow margin victory over Northern Ireland would be an excellent result, but even a draw would bring them a step closer to achieving their goal. The hosts should play with a sense of urgency after drawing three consecutive games, because three points are not enough to secure qualification. This doesn’t mean that Northern Ireland will be reckless upfront, because conceding an early goal could seal their fate.
Russia is one of the two European teams who have won all four games so far in the qualifiers for the World Cup, so punters are reluctant to bet against them. On the other hand, odds of 2.00 with Pinnacle Sports for a home victory with the cover of an Asian handicap of +1 are simply too good to turn down.