As we head into the next round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers, Italy, Spain and hosts France have already secured their place in the finals.
The other five group winners and four play-off contenders will be decided between now and next Tuesday and our betting expert has cast an eye over the best of the action.
Wales Women v England Women
England and Wales are the only two sides who are capable of topping their Group 2 table as things stand, but with the visitors short favourites to take the points here at 1/7 with grosvenorsport.com, Wales will be relying on their home support in Newport to up the ante.
Wales have already performed above and beyond what was expected, having not conceded a goal in 810 minutes and pulling off a shock 0-0 draw with England in April.
A win on Friday would be a fairy tale story for them, as it will secure their place in the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958.
Victory for Phil Neville’s side on Friday can also confirm their place at the 2019 World Cup, while a draw would keep their fate in their hands and defeat would mean the Lionesses would need to qualify via the play-offs.
England have made it to the semi-finals of their last two major tournaments and, since Neville took over in January, have enjoyed two wins and a draw in the qualifiers, the latter of which came against Wales.
The odds are against them but Jayne Ludlow’s women know they could write themselves into the history books with a win, and will certainly enjoy a roaring atmosphere with the Rodney Parade fixture having sold out in 24 hours.
Though I remain unconvinced that they’ll take the three points, I do think a draw could be on the cards once again and at 5/1 could certainly be worth a flutter.
Republic of Ireland Women v Northern Ireland Women
Northern Ireland’s penultimate qualifying match against the Republic of Ireland takes place on Friday in Dublin, with the World Cup dream already over for both of these sides who are mathematically unable to progress.
However, this all-Ireland clash playing out at the Tallaght Stadium is still set to be one of passion and grit as they both attempt to end their respective tournament runs on a high.
It’s a big ask for the travelling side though and they are the outside bet at 7/1 to clinch the three points.
Although not heading to the finals, the sides have experienced their fair shares of controversy, having both challenged the FAI over poor training conditions, compensation and resources. But Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland ended up satisfied after the negotiations and, on the pitch, enjoyed notable wins against Slovakia.
The visitors lost the other five of their qualifying games played so far and can now only finish in either 4th or 5th place in the five-team group, however they know that two wins would see them finish only a single point behind the Republic of Ireland in third.
Colin Bell’s side took a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland back in November in Lurgan and will carry that confidence into the fixture.
The hosts will be bolstered further by their Player of the Year Harriet Scott having fully recovered from injury which saw her miss out on the Norway qualifiers.
With nothing left to lose and just pride to play for, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few goals so I’ll be backing a total of over 3.5 goals at 6/4.