International football betting takes on a greater importance in the final qualifying rounds for a World Cup or Euros.
The boring early rounds are out of the way and this is where nations desperately need to pick up points to make it to Russia next summer.
In Europe, there are still four match rounds to go in qualifying, before the additional dreaded playoffs.
Football betting fans have generally seen few upsets from European qualifying, while the big boys like Brazil and Argentina are going strong in South American qualifying.
So what are the best football bets for the international break? And is it worth backing an upset or two this week? Let’s take a look…
Bet on France v Netherlands
This big midweek fixture in the international break is certain France v Netherlands. Qualifying Group A is the worst in Europe, with Sweden currently top of the pile ahead of these two teams. Bulgaria are also credible candidates to secure a top-two finish in Group A and that has got the Netherlands panicking. They lost 2-0 in Sofia back in March and must now beat France to stand any realistic chance of qualifying for Russia.
The only problem is, Netherlands don’t look like doing that. They lost 1-0 to Les Bleus in Amsterdam in their first encounter as Paul Pogba scored the winner. Netherlands managed just two shots on target all game. It was a bitterly disappointing moment for ex-manager Danny Blind, who was sacked and replaced by Dick Advocaat in March.
Can Netherlands beat France? The French have a superb attacking unit in Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Dmitri Payet and Anthony Martial. It’s a star-studded side the Dutch can only dream of.
The two men who can save Netherlands are Kevin Strootman and Davy Klaassen. If the midfield can hold its own against Pogba and co. they could get a draw here. But realistically France are deserved 1.65 favourites.
Bet on Malta v England
England’s strong World Cup qualifying campaign continues with what should be a routine win in Malta. They are 1.05 to win. But this match is more about goals betting than results betting. England only beat Malta 2-0 at home last October, which is why +3.5 goals for this match is priced as highly as 1.75. That is a good price to add to any combination bet.
Bet on Spain v Italy
The other crunch game of the international break is certainly Spain v Italy. Two of Europe’s best footballing nations clash in Group G. They fought out a 1-1 draw in Turin last October, with Daniele de Rossi cancelling out Vitolo’s strike. A major loss for Spain is Diego Costa, whose refusal to train at Chelsea means he’s not been given a place in the Spain squad this international break.
Coming in for Costa is David Villa, the veteran Barcelona legend who is now playing for New York City FC. Villa is a superb striker but at the age of 35, question marks have been raised over his ability to threaten this solid Italian defence.
Italy and Spain should both easily qualify from this group, winning their remaining matches after this encounter. They’re both on 16 points, which means Saturday’s clash in Madrid is massive.
Spain, as hosts, are 1.85 to beat Italy. But with no Costa the Italian’s could sneak a win here. They are 9.50 to win 1-0.