Scotland v Poland – 8 October
This is a crunch match for Scotland in a group where qualification seemed a distinct possibility for so long only for an unexpected defeat away to Georgia swept the rug from under their feet. However if Scotland can defeat Poland at Hampden and Republic of Ireland fail to beat Germany in Dublin, then there is a very real chance that the Scots would sneak into the third qualifying place in the last round of games thanks to what would be their superior head to head records against Ireland and Poland.
The Poles will no doubt know this and be keen to put Scotland to the sword and qualify automatically from a group that they had been leading for so long before being overtaken by the world champions.
The Spiffindex is tight, with very little between Scotland and Poland. Unfortunately for Scotland, Poland’s key striker Robert Lewandowski is in form having scored 12 goals in four games and is the top goalscorer in the European Championship qualifiers with 10 goals. Scotland’s success will hinge on keeping the Bayern Munich forward quiet.
The Poles are also on a £100,000 bonus each to qualify for Euro 2016 and a win will almost certainly get them there.
Scotland have only won one out of four qualifiers this year, and that was against Gibraltar, however their fours strikers all scored for their clubs this weekend – Steven Fletcher, Jordan Rhodes, Chris Martin and Leigh Griffiths, which could mean that a much needed turnaround in form is on the cards.
Prediction: A draw wouldn’t be a total disaster for both teams, as long as Germany win in Dublin, but with everything Lewandowski touching ending up a goal at the moment, the force is with the visitors. Buy Poland Over with the Spiffindex at 2.84.
Romania v Finland – 8 October
Romania had been leading the group before running into the buffers with three consecutive 0-0 draws which has threatened the country’s automatic qualification. They are vying for the top two spots with Northern Ireland and Hungary and while the Hungarians are currently three points behind, they do have a superior head to head record.
This means that the Romanians will not be complacent against a Finnish side which could still theoretically finish second themselves. A look at the record books does not make good reading for the Finns though. Romania’s record in nine matches against Finland is W7 D2 L0, with a 100% record at home. They are unbeaten in six competitive home games and have the best defensive record in qualifying with just one goal conceded in eight outings.
As second-placed Romania will qualify if they get a better result than Hungary manage against the Faroe Islands, it’s fair to say that they will be motivated. Finland have only kept two clean sheets in the whole of qualifying, and that was against whipping boys Faroe Islands and the struggling Greeks. However these two clean sheets were also the last two fixtures Finland played, which could mean things are on the up.
Prediction: Romania are hot favourites for the game, with the Spiffindex at 1.75, and given the home side will not want to watch qualification slip through their fingers, buy Romania Under.
Portugal only need a point against the Danes to secure their place at Euro 2016, which would come as blessed relief to a side which started off the campaign with a shock home defeat to Albania. However this remains their sole defeat in their last 19 home qualifying games (of which they have won 13). Interestingly though, the team last to beat Portugal at home before Albania was Denmark.
This is the Danes’ last game of qualifying and they will be hoping to turn around the 1-0 home loss that Portugal inflicted on them a year ago. Should they win by more than one goal, Denmark could feasibly top the group. Denmark are unbeaten in their last four qualifiers and have not conceded in their last three.
They will need the points as well if they are looking to avoid the play-offs in third place. Currently Albania are only one point adrift of the Danes with two games left to play, albeit tricky ties against Serbia and Armenia.
Prediction: With Portugal the superior side only requiring a point and a Danish side looking set for the play-offs anyway, buy Draw Under with the Spiffindex at 3.75.
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