* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
And so, the group stage section of the qualification process for Qatar 2022 draws to a close in this international break, with England needing four points to be guaranteed of topping Group I. With their final game being against San Marino, it’s fair to say that a point here should be enough to secure top spot.
Friday 7.45pm – England v Albania
While it would be a colossal shock if they didn’t take all three against Albania, but the visitors still have hopes of securing a play-off spot, as they go into this game only two points behind Poland. However, surely they can’t pull off one of the greatest upsets ever inflicted upon the Three Lions?
NEW TO PADDY POWER?
There’s nothing in the limited history between the sides to suggest there will be a surprise result here, with England having won all five previous meetings.
The penultimate clash saw goals from Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, so only the fixture in March this year has any semblance of relevance here. Gareth Southgate’s side won 2-0 in Tirana and never looked in danger of conceding as Albania only had two shots across the whole contest. The underdogs actually have an impressive defensive record in this qualification process, having conceded fewer goals than Poland.
However, their away game against Robert Lewandowski and Co was very telling with an eye on this match as Albania lost 4-1, and that was also the scoreline from their visit to France in the qualifying stages of Euro 2020. When they play one of the larger teams away from home, they tend to come unstuck.
England are well accustomed to handsomely winning matches against this standard of opponent at Wembley, and there’s every reason to assume they will do so once again. Southgate’s lads can win this by at least three goals to ensure the handicap bet pays out.
While a 3-0 home win would obviously meet the criteria for our first bet, there’s every chance there will be more than three goals in this match.
Albania are currently ranked at 63rd in FIFA’s rankings, and in England’s last three competitive home matches against teams of a similar standard – Iceland (62nd), Bulgaria (70th) and Montenegro (73rd) – they dished out a pair of 4-0 beatings and a 7-0 hammering of the hapless Montenegrins.
The home side will also be looking to put in an improved performance after their disappointing 1-1 draw with Hungary in their previous game at Wembley, so while a low scoring win would more than suffice, they should look to put on a show for the fans.
And as Albania have scored in their seven of their last nine away games in qualifying for the Euros and World Cup, we can’t discount that they will find the net here either. It all adds up to a bet on over 3.5 goals.
While nobody would blame Harry Kane for wanting to leave Nuno Espirito Santo’s version of Tottenham, the appointment of Antonio Conte may reinvigorate the England captain. But, while he has struggled to contribute much of note in the Premier League this season, his record in World Cup qualifying has remained as strong as ever. Kane has made six appearances and scored in five of them.
More importantly, he has bagged the first goal in three of the fixtures, including England’s win in Albania. With club frustrations to work out of his system, Kane is a great shout to open the scoring in this match.
England can create goals from anywhere. 13 different players have set up a goal in the World Cup qualification matches and that includes reserve goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
There are five men tied for the lead on two, but Jesse Lingard and Jadon Sancho aren’t in the squad, Mason Mount is a doubt at the time of writing, and so is Luke Shaw (who is in terrible form for Manchester United regardless).
That leaves Phil Foden, who has three assists in his last nine matches for club and country. He also created the most chances against Hungary and was second only to Sancho for the match with Andorra in the last international break. Back the Manchester City man to assist a goal against Albania.
* A Bet Builder on these four best bets pays at approximately 20/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.
NOT SURE WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT? CLICK HERE TO LEARN ALL ABOUT WHAT A BET BUILDER IS
FREE BET IF 1 LEG LETS YOU DOWN
If one leg of your 4+ fold Bet Builder fails to land, you get up to £/€10 back as a free bet. Customers can qualify for 1 Bet Builder Free Bet If 1 Leg Lets You Down per day up to £/€10. The free bets will be credited by 12pm the following day.
- Paddy Power punter beats 18,000/1 odds to land £9k from ace acca
- Football on TV: What live football matches are on the telly box today?
- Sir Alex Ferguson finally unfriends Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Facebook after City loss