World Cup qualifiers: Wednesday match analysis and picks

World Cup qualifiers: Wednesday match analysis and picks

World Cup qualifiers: Wednesday match analysis and picks
By SHAWN YOUNG

Qualifier matches for next year's World Cup in South Africa continue this week all over the world. We turned to a former oddsmaker for European soccer to help us break down some of the key matches and give us his picks.

Finland (+.5, +110) vs. Russia
(Forecast: 67 degrees, showers)

Russia has 12 points and Finland has 10 points after five matches each. Germany leads the group with 16 points from six matches. Whoever loses this game is in a heap of trouble. Russia defeated Finland 3-0 in Moscow on October 15.

There are two reasons why Russia is favored on the road. First, there’s that 3-0 score in October. Second, Finland looked very flat when they beat Liechtenstein 2-1 on Saturday. Let’s grab the half-goal and hope for the best here. Russia had their own 1-0 win over Liechtenstein on April 1 and lost their other away match to Germany. Finland is a team of full-time professionals and was looking past Saturday’s game to this one. They’ll get at least a draw at home.

Prediction: Finland 1, Russia 1.

Holland (-1, -125) vs. Norway
(Forecast: 65 degrees, cloudy)

There are no easy games in this group, unless you’re Holland. Holland is a perfect 6-0 and is bound for the World Cup. Norway have only three points from four games, but can still grab second place and the playoff spot that goes with it.

Norway is worth a bet here based on motivation alone. Norway grounded out a gritty draw away to Macedonia on Saturday, and they know they need at least the same result here. The Dutch partied late into the night after beating Iceland to clinch qualification on Saturday.

Even Holland’s reserves won’t be a walk in the park for Norway, but the full goal handicap is tough to resist.

Prediction: Holland 1, Norway 1

Mexico (-1.5 -120) vs. Trinidad and Tobago (2.5 ov-50)
(Forecast: 82 degrees, chance of thunderstorms)

Mexico lost away to El Salvador 2-1 on Saturday. Now Trinidad and Tobago should feel Mexico’s wrath.

T&T has not won a game yet in this stage, and are coming off a 3-2 home loss to Costa Rica. They’ll fight here, but they’re not nearly good enough. Mexico’s three losses have all come on the road, and anything but a rousing home win on Wednesday would be a shock. It’s time for the Mexicans to get down to business, and T&T has a few part-time professionals who will be totally overmatched.

If you can find over 2.5 goals cheaper than -150 right now, that’ll cover a 2-1 Mexican win among other things and is actually a better bet than Mexico -1.5 -120. That said, don’t sit around waiting for the total to be posted at the expense of seeing the Mexico -1.5 disappear.

Prediction: Mexico 4, Trinidad and Tobago 0

CHILE (-1.5 +115) vs. Bolivia
(Forecast: 61 degrees, sunny)

Everything went wrong for Bolivia against Venezuela on Saturday. An own goal? Check. Red cards? Two, since you asked. A stack of suspensions and injuries for the Chile game on Wednesday? Oh yeah.   

Chile beat Paraguay 2-0 on the road on Saturday and looks ready to pile on Bolivia’s misery. Bolivia has only one draw from six away matches so far and in those six outings they’ve been outscored 18-4.

Chile is so close to qualification they can taste it. They won’t get a better chance at a home win down the stretch. To top matters off, the young players that have come up through Chile’s Under-20 system are blending in with the veterans better than expected.

Prediction: Chile 3, Bolivia

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