With games running out in UEFA World Cup qualifying, Belgium can become the first European team to seal their place in the finals. Russia have automatically qualified as hosts but prior to the 8th round of matches in the European section, not one team has sealed a place at the 2018 World Cup.
As things stand in World Cup qualifying Group H, Belgium are top with 19 points from their 7 games played. They are 6 points clear of their upcoming opponents Greece, who are in second place with 13 points. Bosnia and Herzegovina are third with 11 points but the best they can really hope for now is second place in the group. That means a win for Belgium in this match against Greece, will see them through.
The Greeks were hoping to take maximum points ahead of this match against Belgium by defeating Estonia on Thursday night. However, things did not go to plan and Greece could not force the breakthrough, even though they were the home team.
The 0-0 draw was a big disappointment and means Greece must now win this game to stay in contention for top spot in the group. The 0-0 draw with Estonia on Thursday was Greece’s fourth straight draw in the group and while they have remained undefeated, they have been unable to win games. However, the 1-1 draw in Belgium will give them the belief they can take something from this match and hopefully keep their automatic qualification hopes alive.
Belgium have a very talented squad of players and brushed Gibraltar aside in their match on Thursday night, defeating them 9-0 despite being down to ten men for over half of the match. That result means Belgium have now scored 33 goals in their 7 group games at an average of 4.7 goals per game. This average was helped by the 8-1 home victory over Estonia, a team Greece failed to break down. Belgium are undefeated in their last 8 games, including friendlies and have been scoring goals for fun.
Only Greece and Netherlands have prevented them from scoring more than 1 goal. Away form in World Cup qualifying shows Belgium have won each of their last 8 matches, including wins in Wales, Serbia and Croatia. Belgium have scored 22 goals and kept 7 clean sheets in those games.
Greece may hand a debut to Dimitris Kourbelis in midfield, while Sokratis, Kostas Manolas, and Kyriakos Papadopoulos should continue in defence, with Kostas Mitroglou in attack. Eden Hazard is expected to start the match for Belgium having recovered from injury and will join Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens in an exciting forward line for the visitors. Axel Witsel is suspended.
Top Betting Tips
Given recent results and the talent in the Belgian squad, the visitors are favourites for this match but Greece are very difficult to defeat on home soil. The Greeks make a tempting draw/no bet at 11/4 with Bet365. In their previous 10 home World Cup qualifying matches, Greece have kept 8 clean sheets and while they may struggle to break down Belgium, they will try and hold firm at the back. Under 2.5 goals is 8/15 with Unibet. More about this bookmaker you’ll find in a Unibet review.
If there is one man capable of breaking the deadlock in what could be a tight game, it is Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker scored a hat-trick on Thursday night and has started the season well for Manchester United. Lukaku is 3/1 with William Hill to score the first goal.