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World Cup: Monday WCQ talking points

World Cup: Monday WCQ talking points

There are more European World Cup Qualifiers to look forward to on Monday evening and there's still plenty to play for as reigning European champions Italy try to secure their place in Qatar.

Portugal failed to secure automatic qualification on Sunday evening, with Serbia's last-minute winner booking their place at the 2022 World Cup.

Italy will be doing all they can to avoid the same fate, while England, Poland and Scotland are also in action.

Azzurri hoping to avoid further World Cup heartache

Italy still have work to do if they want to confirm their place in the 2022 World Cup, and they have been in this situation before.

The Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, but they responded in fine fashion, beating England to win Euro 2020 at Wembley last summer.

Roberto Mancini's side failed to beat Switzerland on Friday night, with Jorginho missing a penalty at the death in a 1-1 draw.

On Monday, they travel to Windsor Park to take on Ian Baraclough's Northern Ireland, who, thankfully for Italy, have nothing but pride to play for.

Both the Azzurri and second-placed Switzerland sit on 17 points and the latter will take on Bulgaria at home.

To qualify, Italy need to win without being outscored by the Swiss, and although they are under pressure, Mancini's team will be confident of getting the job done.

Mancini is without Ciro Immobile, Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini through injury, but Italy's record against Northern Ireland is nearly perfect.

The Azzurri have never conceded a goal against Northern Ireland in all six meetings between the pair and those that fancy Italy to add to that record can back an away win to nil at 4/6.

Perfect record in Denmark's sights

After reaching the final four in Russia, Denmark seem to have gone from strength to strength under Kasper Hjulmand.

The Danes have won all nine of their games so far in Group F, and they have only conceded one goal during that time.

Hjulmand's team, even without playmaker Christian Eriksen, have carved open defences with ease this year and the future looks bright for Denmark, with their place in Qatar already secured.

Monday's game will give them the chance to end their qualifying campaign with ten wins from as many matches, but Scotland will be doing all they can to spoil their party.

Steve Clarke's side have already secured second place in the group, but they need to avoid defeat on Monday to retain a chance of being seeded in the play-offs.

Scotland have won six of their eight home matches against Denmark, but the current Danish crop looks a class above.

Scotland are 21/10 to win at Hampden Park, the draw is 2/1, while Denmark are 6/4 to win for the 10th time during this qualifying campaign.

Denmark can be backed at 11/4 to win to nil in Glasgow as they look to make it two wins from two against Scotland during qualifying.

England one game away from Qatar

England coach Gareth Southgate says his side are taking Monday's opponents, San Marino, very seriously, and they look destined to book their place in Qatar on Monday night.

The Three Lions are three points clear of second-placed Poland ahead of kick-off and they only need one point to secure their spot in next year's tournament.

The fixture list could have been harder on England, with San Marino still classed as the worst national team in FIFA's rankings.

San Marino have lost all nine of their group games so far, conceding on 36 occasions. Franco Varrella's side have only scored once during qualifying, and the fact that was celebrated tells the tale.

It should be a case of how many England can score and it will be up to San Marino to try and keep the scoreline as low as possible.

That is easier said than done, though, and England have won their seven matches against San Marino by an aggregate scoreline of 42-1.

Their 5-0 win in March could easily be repeated at odds of 5/1, while Harry Kane will look to end the campaign on a high.

The Tottenham man has scored 12 goals in 2021 for England, including a hat-trick against Albania in Friday's 5-0 win.

Kane can be backed at 6/4 to score three or more on Monday, and England should have no problems as they look to secure qualification.

Poland to go out with a bang

As we mentioned earlier, England should secure the top spot in Group I at a canter as they prepare to put San Marino to the sword.

Poland know they can not finish outside the top two, but they will be looking to end their campaign in style in front of their own fans.

Hungary will head to Warsaw on Monday evening and they can finish third with a win, as long as Albania fail to pick up three points against Andorra.

Paulo Sousa's troops are unbeaten in six matches and they proved their quality during a 1-1 draw with England in September.

Since then, they have scored ten goals during victories over San Marino, Albania and Andorra.

Hungary have struggled to string results together, but they are looking to stretch their unbeaten run to three matches this week.

While on the road, they have not won since March, Marco Rossi's men have not struggled to find the back of the net.

In their five previous matches away from home, Hungary have scored on ten occasions, and a home win and both teams to score is priced at 3/1.

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