Ronaldo absence can help land 9/2 World Cup handicap double

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Not too many bets massively stand out in the second set of the latest batch of World Cup qualifiers, but delving into the handicap markets can reap some reward from the matches involving Holland and Portugal.

Portugal and Holland were in the same group at the last European Championships, but although a Cristiano Ronaldo double helped the Portuguese win that game, progress through World Cup qualifying has not been as straightforward as many would have predicted.

While Holland have won five from five to open a clear gap at the top of Group D, just two wins in five qualifiers has seen Portugal sit third in Group F.

They can barely afford any more slip-ups now, starting at Azerbaijan.

The bad news is that Ronaldo is absent because of suspension, which obviously blunts their attacking threat.

Throw in that they scored twice in the last 10 minutes to win the reverse fixture at home 3-0 and Portugal may not have it all their own way here.

It is also worth noting that Azerbaijan may be towards the bottom of the group, but they have only played one qualifier at home and on this occasion they held second-place Israel to a draw.

Tipping Azerbaijan to win remains one step too far, but 4/5 looks a fair price that they prevail with a two-goal handicap, especially as Portugal have additionally conceded at least twice in their last three games.

Portugal may not be able to overcome a two-goal handicap, but this is something that we do expect Holland to achieve as they bid to maintain their 100 per cent qualifying winning streak at home to Romania.

For starters, Holland won the reverse fixture 4-1 and this bet would have also landed in their latest qualifier when beating Estonia 3-0.

Meanwhile, they have netted at least three times in their last four qualifiers.

21/20 may be one of the bets of this round of fixtures that Holland win by at least three goals and combined with the aforementioned Portugal bet, punters can profit from a double that pays out at just a shade better than 9/2.

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

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.