Russia failed to take advantage of their good home form on Thursday night as they played out a 0-0 draw with Norway.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s side have already beaten Turkey 2-1 away in this group, but there doesn’t appear to be a lot between the sides.
We had our fingers burned by presuming Russia’s home form would continue after their emotional World Cup heroics. This time we’ll we’ll take both teams to be among the goals and leave the result to itself.
Selection: Both teams to score at 17/20.
At least we’ll know our fate early with another 5pm kick-off, but it’s fair to say neither of these sides will be troubling the judge at the latter end of this competition.
They’ve already drawn 1-1 when they met a month ago in Malta, so what quite makes the home side 1/5 favourites now, is hard to gauge.
We know Malta’s record on the road is as bad as Brighton’s and they haven’t scored more than one goal in an international match since coincidentally, drawing 2-2 with Azerbaijan, in 2015.
We’ll give the home side the benefit of the doubt but we’re not taking the 1/5 on offer.
Instead, under 2.5 goals at 3/4 is the play, as we’re not expecting a high-scoring thriller.
Selection: Under 2.5 goals at 3/4.
Israel put a run of disappointing results behind them in a fairly convincing 2-1 win over Scotland on Thursday and may have turned a corner. The Scots went ahead in that game thanks to a disputed penalty, but there was only going to be one winner after the home-side equalised through Dor Peretz after the break.
Albania were 2-0 losers last month at Hampden Park but did beat Israel three days earlier in this group to start their campaign with a win, which was a high point in what has been a series of losses this year.
Albania are ranked higher than their hosts in FIFA’s world rankings, but that morale boosting win and home advantage should see Israel oblige.
In case the home side revert to type, we’re going to let discretion get the better part of valour and go for both teams to score at evens.
Hopefully, we’re still up and running by the final leg and if it clicks, we’ll get to banish those Monday morning blues for a little longer.
Selection: Both teams to score at evens.
*Russia v Turkey both teams to score @17/20, Azerbaijan v Malta under 2.5 goals @ 3/4 & Israel v Albania both teams to score @ evens is 5/1 with Paddy Power.
*Prices correct at time of posting.