Betting round-up: England expected to qualify

The bookmakers expect Roy Hodgson to book their place at the FIFA showcase in the Brazil next year, as Paul Gough examines where the smart money is in qualifying
England are odds-on favourites to qualify for their eighth World Cup from the past nine attempts when they host Poland in the final round of European qualifiers at Wembley on Wednesday morning [ADST].

The Three Lions only need to win at home against a Poland side already out of contention to be on the plane for Brazil next year but any slip-up is likely to result in Roy Hodgson's side having to qualify the hard way via the play-offs.

Only the nine group winners automatically qualify for Brazil next year with the eight best performed runners-up to then be drawn in four two legged play-offs to determine the other four spots.

Heading into Tuesday night's final round of qualifiers across Europe and Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland have already booked their places by winning their respective groups.

And Croatia in Group A, behind Belgium, are already guaranteed a play-off berth.

However the remaining places are up for grabs.

In Group H England lead Ukraine by one point heading into the last round of matches but Ukraine are all but certain at odds of less than $1.01 at bet365 to win away against minnows San Marino at $51.

That means England must beat Poland to avoid finishing second in the group behind Ukraine.

England are the $1.22 favourites at home with bet365 - following their impressive 4-1 win over third-placed Montenegro on Friday night - while fourth-placed Poland are paying $12, with the draw at $6.

But while England rarely do anything the easy way, they are unbeaten in qualifying and surely won't slip up here against a side that have only beaten them once in 18 attempts and that was way back in 1973.

England to win 2-0 is the favoured option in correct score betting at odds of $5.50 but with one of the world's best strikers in Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski (great value at $4.50 to score at any stage of the match at bet365) in their ranks, we will go for the home side to score a nervy 2-1 win at odds of $10.

Back England, Spain, France, Russia and Bosnia to win

The draw at $3.40 is great value at bet365 in the Norway-Iceland game while Lewandowski is great value to score at any stage against England at odds of $4.50

Group B is the group where the runner-up is most likely to miss out on a play-off berth while in Group D second spot behind the Dutch is up for grabs between Turkey and Romania.

But with Turkey at home to Holland in the final round, Romania should clinch second by winning at home at $1.18 against Estonia at $13.

In Group E Iceland can keep alive their hopes of making the World Cup for the first time by getting a draw away to Norway at $3.40 - which should be enough for them to clinch second spot behind Switzerland.

Big guns Portugal are likely to have to settle for second place in Group F behind Russia - who lead by three points - with Russia the $1.28 favourites away to Azerbaijan while Portugal are the $1.02 favourites at home to Luxembourg.

In Group G Bosnia and Greece are level on 22 points but Bosnia have a huge lead on goal difference and can seal qualification with a win away to Lithuania, where they are the $1.33 favourites at bet365, while Greece are $1.01 at home to tiny Liechtenstein.

And finally in Group I defending World Cup champions Spain can seal top place by winning at home at $1.05 against Georgia with the Socceroos' recent conquerors France likely to have to settle for second spot even though they should win at home to Finland at $1.18 at bet365.

*Note prices subject to change