Stingy defences in World Cup play-offs make ‘unders’ way to go

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A place at the next World Cup is the tantalising prize which awaits four European teams and with only one play-off match from the first legs breaching the 2.5 goals mark, we’re predicting four tense affairs in the return fixtures as those with advantages look to shut up shop.

This goal-shy accumulator will pay out at around 13/2 if all four UEFA ties turn in under 2.5 goals.

Sweden (0) v Portugal (1): Under 2.5 goals @ 13/20

At least one of the big guns was able to fire during a cat-and-mouse contest in Lisbon, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s diving header separating the sides, though Zlatan Ibrahimovic remained a bystander for the large majority.

Sweden’s own greatest goal-scoring weapon is sure to hold more sway in Stockholm, though given the way the two nations cancelled one another out in the first leg, it’s difficult to see the floodgates opening here.

France (0) v Ukraine (2): Under 2.5 goals @ 3/4

Only one team in the UEFA section of previous World Cup play-offs has overturned a first-leg deficit to make a World Cup since the 1998 finals, and that was Slovenia when qualifying for South Africa 2010, though they had registered a goal in Russia to trail 2-1.

This makes grim news indeed for the French then, against a Ukraine side which have now kept eight clean sheets in a row during qualifiers and friendlies.

Romania (1) v Greece (3): Under 2.5 goals @ 4/7

The Greeks have all-but sewn this tie up with a really convincing victory in Piraeus and will now revert to type to squeeze the life out of Romania’s bid.

Greece are certainly famed for their defending ever since their heroics of 2004 and five straight clean sheets prior to the first leg, suggests they’ll park the bus, the plane and the car in Bucharest.

Croatia (0) v Iceland (0): Under 2.5 goals @ 4/6

This tie is still blankety blank from the first leg in Reykjavik, despite relative minnows Iceland being reduced to 10 men very early into the second half.

Not being able to break down Iceland’s rearguard even with a man advantage sums up Croatia’s struggles of late perfectly though.

Croatia have only mustered a single goal in their last three outings and only once in their last three at home also.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.