It’s getting down to the business end of qualification for the 2014 World Cup, and Roy Hodgson will be hoping that his England team can take a step further to reaching the Finals in Brazil when they welcome Moldova to Wembley on Friday evening (watch the match LIVE on ITV).
England are without Wayne Rooney, Glen Johnson and Phil Jones, and there is also a doubt over Daniel Sturridge, but home fans will still demand nothing less than a convincing victory against the underdog visitors.
England are unbeaten in their last six matches and demolished the Moldovans 5-0 when the teams met in Chisinau last September so the Three Lions are fully expected to secure all the points. It’s 1/20 for Hodgson’s men overcome Moldova and that might appear like stealing money. The scoreline from the previous match wasn’t flattering – the gulf in class that night was huge – and you wouldn’t expect it to be much different at Wembley.
But, a small word of warning. Moldova have, on paper at least, improved considerably since that dismal performance. In their subsequent six qualifiers, they have conceded a total of just six goals while recording draws against Ukraine and Poland to go with respectable narrow defeats. Nobody has really turned them over since England did; they are no San Marino.
So, though England should win comfortably, it might not be quite the walk in the park many anticipate. A repeat 5-0 is 7/1 with Coral and may appear tempting, but there is strong evidence that the eastern Europeans learned their lesson and have tightened up since their humiliation a year ago and are capable of making a better fist of it.
The absence of Wayne Rooney for England opens the door for others to impress. Rooney’s Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck is expected to lead the England attack and is 11/4 to open the scoring and 8/13 to score in 90 minutes.
This, of course, is a game England have to win if they are to retain any reasonable hope of topping Group 8; anything less than three points would seriously jeopardise their chances of even making the play-offs.
Away from the England match, the Republic of Ireland host Sweden in Dublin in a match which could easily make or break their World Cup qualifying campaign. Gio Trapattoni’s men currently sit fourth in Group C, but level on points with third place Sweden and second place Austria, who face Germany. It’s 7/4 for Ireland to overcome Erik Hamren’s side with Sweden 8/5 to come away from the Irish capital victorious.
All three of Ireland's Group C qualifiers at home have seen backers of over 2.5 goals and both teams to score collect so it could be beneficial to look at the goals markets. Coral quote 23/20 for there to be three or more goals to be scored in the match and 5/6 for both teams to score.