WC play-off previews: Second legs - The Gambling Times

WC play-off previews: Second legs

Northern Ireland need to win in Switzerland if they want to go to the World Cup finals.

The Irish were beaten 1-0 in the first leg in Belfast, courtesy of a hugely controversial penalty given to the Swiss and boss Michael O’Neill admits his squad need to channel their frustration into the second leg.

“The players are angry but we have to find a way to get a result on Sunday.

“We are still in the tie. We are going to have to find a way to get a goal back,” he said.

“I’ll have to pick the players up. There’s anger in the dressing room – they are very aggrieved by what happened.

“They still believe they are in the tie, that’s the most important thing. It is not like we are going there with nothing to play for.”

Croatia will feel they are all but through following their 4-1 hammering of Greece in the first leg, whilst Italy have it all to do following a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the first-leg.

The most delicately poised tie is Republic of Ireland’s clash with Denmark following their goalless draw in Copenhagen.

“It’s very evenly poised,” said Irish boss Martin O’Neill

“With the players they possess they’re capable of scoring a goal so we might have to score two to win the match. But we’re capable of that.”

See below for a run-down on the games, including predictions and picks from former England international midfielder Andy Gray, our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and BoyleSports’s Leon Blanche.

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Sunday
Switzerland 17:00 Northern Ireland (1-0 agg)
St Jakob, Basel

KEY FACT: Northern Ireland have won two of their last three competitive away matches, conceding just once
MATCH ODDS: Swiss 4/9 Draw 16/5 N.Ireland 8/1
ANDY SAYS: 
This is a tough call and I think the Swiss will just edge it…1-0
GRAEME SAYS: 
I think Northern Ireland might get the win, but it won’t be easy…1-2
BOYLESPORTS PICK: Swiss to win to nil @Evens
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Xherdan Shaqiri – Stoke man is just 69p

Sunday
Greece 19:45 Croatia (1-4 agg)
Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis, Athens

KEY FACT: No team has overturned a 4-1 first-leg deficit in a World Cup play-off
MATCH ODDS: Greece 13/5 Draw 23/10 Croatia 23/20
ANDY SAYS:
I think Croatia are going through with ease…1-3
GRAEME SAYS: 
Can’t see Greece getting near Croatia…0-2
BOYLESPORTS PICK: Croatia to win @13/5
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Ivan Perisic is a big talent, but not at a big price at just over £1

Monday
Italy 19:45 Sweden (agg 0-1)
San Siro, Milan

KEY FACT: Italy are unbeaten in 44 competitive home games since 1999
MATCH ODDS: Italy 11/20 Draw 13/5 Sweden 6/1
ANDY SAYS: 
Italy will get the win here, but Sweden might go through with an away goal…2-1
GRAEME SAYS: 
I think Italy will do enough here and grab the win…2-0
BOYLESPORTS PICK: Italy to win @11/20
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Lorenzo Insigne is in top-20 on the Index, the highest rated Italian player

Tuesday
Republic of Ireland 19:45 Denmark (agg 0-0)
Aviva Stadium, Dublin

KEY FACT: Ireland have lost one of last 13 competitive home games
MATCH ODDS: Republic 17/10 Draw 2/1 Denmark 9/5
ANDY SAYS:
I think the Irish will do this and make it to Russia…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: I just think Christian Eriksen will do something here and could be the difference…0-1
BOYLESPORTS PICK: Ireland to win @17/10
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Christian Eriksen at under £2 – bargain

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