Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
There are some huge games on Thursday as European heavyweights Italy and Portugal continue their bids to reach World Cup 2022 in Qatar via the play-offs.
The Azzurri take on North Macedonia first, while Portugal come up against Turkey. The winners of those two ties will meet in the final, meaning one will definitely be absent from the main event this year and there is a chance both could miss out.
Wales face Austria in their first play-off and if they come through that tie they will then take on either Scotland or Ukraine in the final, although as Scotland’s game against Ukraine has been postponed it remains unclear as to when that final will be played.
Sweden entertain the Czech Republic and the winner of that tie will play Poland in the final after the Poles received a walkover having been drawn against Russia.
We’ve got predictions for the four games that are due to take place on Thursday and I’ve used those as the basis to put together this 227/1 mega accumulator tip, which you can back below.
227/1 World Cup Play-Offs Mega Accumulator
Tip: Wales to win & BTTS
Wales, who are 20th in the FIFA rankings, have been handed a particularly tricky tie against a quality Austria outfit but home advantage may swing this game in their favour.
Wales are an incredibly strong team at home and are unbeaten in their last 17 home games, while Austria tend to struggle on their travels and they haven’t won away against a top-40 ranked nation since 2015.
We are expecting the visitors to grab a goal, however, as there were goals at both ends in five of Wales’ eight qualifiers and Austria have scored in three of their last four away games.
Tip: Italy to win to nil
North Macedonia stunned Germany at the Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena in Duisburg during qualifying but will need to better that performance if they are to overcome European champions Italy.
We’re expecting a fairly comfortable win for Italy as they look to book a place in Qatar and they can also keep a clean sheet. The Italians, who have never lost a home World Cup qualifying game, only conceded two goals in eight games during their World Cup Qualifying group and they can register a win to nil against North Macedonia.
Tip: Portugal to win & BTTS
Portugal and Turkey meet at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto and the hosts are the heavy favourites to win.
The Portuguese have lost just two of their last 26 home games in a run stretching back to 2018 and they have won 12 of the last 16.
We’re expecting Portugal to win in 90 minutes but they may struggle to keep a clean sheet against a Turkey side who have scored in each of their last eight games.
Tip: Sweden to score a penalty
Sweden’s tie against the Czech Republic is perhaps the most evenly matched of the four games on Thursday but again we feel home advantage may prove the difference.
One market that stands out here though, is the 5/1 on offer for the Swedes to score a penalty. The Blagult have scored from the spot in their last two home games and it may be small margins that decide this game, so the big price on the hosts to score from the spot appeals.
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