Football Tips: Your best bets for huge World Cup qualifiers comes to 48/1 fourfold acca

Our tipster Shane O'Brien's the big man for the big occasion.


* 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.

For the first time in a very long time, the international break is not a waste of time. Between Sunday and Tuesday, there are four crunch games between Europe’s elite nations that will decide the fate of four different groups and rival the excitement and drama of club football at its best.


On Friday night, Switzerland missed the chance to shock European champions Italy and all but secure their passage to Qatar next year after they squandered a one-goal lead in Rome. Both sides are locked on 15 points each and separated by just two goals, setting up a final day shootout as Italy take on Northern Ireland in Belfast and Switzerland take on Bulgaria in Basel.

Those two games are not to be missed on Monday night, but they pale in comparison to the tantalising winner-takes-all games between group leaders in four different groups over the next three days.

* An acca with these bets pays at approximately 48/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.


Sunday 2pm: Croatia vs Russia – Croatia to Win

TV: Sky Sports Football

Both Croatia and Russia recorded six-goal victories on Thursday to set up this winner-take-all encounter in Zagreb on Sunday afternoon. Russia currently sit two points above Croatia in Group H and are the only away team involved in these crunch fixtures that is in pole position to qualify.

They held Croatia to a 0-0 draw at home and know that a similar result will be enough to qualify for a third consecutive World Cup. Croatia, on the other hand, will want to avoid a repeat of a costly 2-2 draw with Slovakia in their previous home game.

The Croats have scored more and conceded fewer than their opponents on Sunday, but that counts for little due to recent slip-ups. They have risen to the challenge on numerous occasions over the past three years, however, and should have just about enough to edge out the Russians with a Croatia Win.

Sunday 7.45pm: Portugal vs Serbia – The Draw

TV: Sky Sports Red Button

Portugal’s 0-0 draw with Ireland on Thursday night means that Fernando Santos’ side need just a point against their group rivals in Lisbon to book their place at next year’s World Cup. Both sides are locked on 17 points after seven games, with Portugal boasting a significantly better goal difference, meaning that anything other than a Serbia win will be good enough for the Portuguese.

However, a Serbia victory is not the most unlikely scenario given the performances of both sides throughout the qualifying campaign. Portugal may boast an embarrassment of riches in terms of world-class players, but they clearly lack cohesion as demonstrated by their sub-par performances at Euro 2020 and their subsequent underwhelming displays home and away against Ireland.

Although Serbia possess far fewer household names, they are far more of a team than Portugal and will cause plenty of problems on Sunday night. Granted, Serbia only find themselves with a chance of winning the group due to some atrociously bad officiating that robbed Cristiano Ronaldo of a winning goal in the reverse fixture in Belgrade, but then again, Portugal only won three points against Ireland courtesy of poor refereeing and two incredibly late Ronaldo headers.

Serbia will back themselves to succeed where Switzerland failed and upset the applecart on Sunday, but Portugal should have just about enough to squeeze through. Expect a Draw in this one.


Sunday 7.45pm: Spain vs Sweden – Sweden (+2)

TV: Sky Sports Premier League

Spain are overwhelming favourites to beat Sweden and make sure of their place at the 2022 World Cup on Sunday, but their previous two performances against the Swedes make this anything but straightforward. Sweden held Spain to a 0-0 draw in the group stages of Euro 2020 and subsequently came from a goal down to beat them 2-1 in a qualifier in September.

A similar result on Sunday would send shockwaves reverberating around the world of football by sending Spain to their first play-off since 2006. Like Serbia, Sweden must win on Sunday night if they are to upset the odds and qualify as group winners, but they will run their hosts close.

Costly away defeats to Greece and Georgia have undone the good work that Sweden did by beating Spain two months ago and they now must pull a rabbit out of the hat. They look likely to come up short, although it should be close, with Spain failing to score more than one goal in their three qualifying games against Sweden and Greece.

The Swedes, who have kept four clean sheets in seven qualifiers, will thwart a Spanish attack that often finds it difficult to put the ball in the back of the net. I think Sweden (+2) looks a smart punt.

Tuesday 7.45pm: Netherlands vs Norway – The Draw

TV: Sky Sports Premier League

Where to start with this one? Both Holland and Norway have thrown their World Cup hopes into major doubt by failing to secure what should have been comfortable wins on Saturday night.

First, Norway failed to beat Latvia at home, giving Holland a chance to book their place in Qatar as long as they won in Montenegro. They appeared on course to do so and were coasting to a 2-0 victory before an implosion in the last 10 minutes saw them concede two quickfire goals and put their World Cup hopes in jeopardy.

Holland and Norway’s respective slip-ups have allowed Turkey to reignite their own dreams, with the Turks now ahead of Norway on goal difference and two points behind leaders Holland. It means that Holland could theoretically go from having World Cup qualification sewn up to missing out on the play-offs if they lose and Turkey win in Montenegro.

A draw is good enough for Holland due to their far superior goal difference and they will hope to secure at least that due to their impeccable home form that has seen them score 18 goals in four home qualifiers.

Norway, meanwhile, will have to rely on Montenegro to do them a favour if they fail to beat Holland, which is not beyond the realms of possibility considering Turkey’s wretched form since Euro 2020. Both Holland and Norway may cancel each other out in a game that they simply cannot afford to lose, making The Draw a good play.

Tips for crunch World Cup qualifiers

Sunday 2pm: Croatia vs Russia – Croatia to Win
Sunday 7.45pm: Portugal vs Serbia – The Draw
Sunday 7.45pm: Spain vs Sweden – Sweden (+2)
Tuesday 7.45pm: Netherlands vs Norway – The Draw

* An acca with these bets pays at approximately 48/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.


If one leg of your 4+ fold Accumulator fails to land, you get up to £/€10 back as a free bet. Customers can qualify for 1 Acca Free Bet If 1 Leg Lets You Down per day up to £/€10. The free bets will be credited by 12pm the following day.

* 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.


The latest football odds are on right now

The Paddy Power Guide To Safer Gambling – Everything You Need To Know

What do you think?