Betting round-up: England tipped to take down Montenegro

Ahead of a big night of European World Cup qualifying matches, Paul Gough expects England to win and has found plenty of other value bets

England can take a giant stride towards qualifying for an eighth World Cup from the past nine attempts when they host Montenegro in a crunch European World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Friday night.

The Three Lions have only failed to qualify for one World Cup - the 1994 tournament in the US - since 1978 but have a real battle on their hands to get to Brazil next year.

With only the top side in each of the nine groups to qualify automatically - with the best eight second-placed teams to then go into two-legged play-offs for the remaining four spots - England lead Group H with 16 points.

But they are just one point ahead of Ukraine and Montenegro with fourth-placed Poland just two points further adrift - meaning all four teams can still finish top of the group.

But England have the luxury of playing both their remaining games at home - starting with Montenegro on Friday night and then Poland in the final round of games on Tuesday night.

England are the only unbeaten team in the group and managed a 1-1 draw away to Montenegro earlier in qualifying.

But at home they are the dominant $1.36 favourites with bet365 on Friday night, with the visitors priced at $8.50 and the draw at $4.75.

However England rarely do anything the easy way and expect Montenegro to give them a scare in this one.

With Ashley Cole out injured, England are vulnerable at the back and the visitors carry plenty of threat through their star strikers Stevan Jovetic of Manchester City and Juventus' Mirko Vucinic.

But with Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Jermaine Defoe, Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert all available, England manager Roy Hodgson is spoiled for choice up front.

While England to win 2-0 is the favoured option in correct score betting at $6 at bet365, we would prefer to go for a 2-1 win at odds of $8.50.

The first goalscorer market is wide open with Rooney the $4.75 favourites ahead of Sturridge and Welbeck at $5 and Defoe and Lambert at $6 while Vucinic is paying $13 and Jovetic $15.

Meanwhile in the other game in the group Ukraine are favoured at $1.80 at bet365 to win at home and end Poland's hopes of qualifying, with the visitors paying $4.75.

There is a huge game in Group A with group leaders Belgium travelling to Croatia, knowing that just a draw will be enough for the world's most improved team to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002.

Croatia, which look assured of second spot in the group, are the $2.40 favourites at bet365 with Belgium priced at $3 but the draw looks great value at $3.20.

Italy have already qualified from Group B but are underdogs at $3 for their trip to Denmark at $2.37, with the Danes needing to win to move above Bulgaria into second place.

In Group C Germany can seal top place and end Ireland's hopes of grabbing a play-off berth with the Germans paying just $1.16 at bet365 to win at home, with the Irish at the huge odds of $15.

The Dutch have already wrapped up Group D and are the $1.40 favourites to win at home against second-placed Hungary at $8.


Back Switzerland at $1.85 to beat Albania away

Go for the draw in the Croatia-Belgium clash at $3.20 and back England to beat Montenegro 2-1 at $8.50

Switzerland lead Group E by five points with just two matches left and can seal qualification with a win away to Albania, where they are the $1.85 favourites at bet365 - with the home side paying $4.33.

In Group F Portugal lead Russia by one point but the qualification battle is likely to go down to the final round on Tuesday night, with Portugal at just $1.20 to win at home against Israel at $13 while Russia ($1.05) are even shorter away to Liechtenstein.

In Group G Bosnia and Greece are locked on 19 points and guaranteed to run one/two and both should win on Friday night.

Greece are $1.53 at bet365 at home to Slovakia while Bosnia are $1.01 against tiny Liechtenstein at $51.

And in Group I, Spain can take a clear lead over France - who are not in action and instead are playing Australia in a friendly in Paris - by winning at $1.05 at home to Belarus at $26.

*Note prices subject to change

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