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2022 World Cup Qualifying European Predictions > Sep 1st - 8th

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Northern Ireland vs Switzerland

The 2022 World Cup qualification in the UEFA section reaches a pivotal point in Group C when Northern Ireland host Switzerland in a 7:45pm BST kick-off at Windsor Park in Belfast. A victory for either side would give their qualification hopes a huge boost but defeat could throw their entire campaign into jeopardy. The stakes are high but can either team go out and take all 3 points?

Northern Ireland will have been delighted with their international window so far with the 4-1 win away to Lithuania being followed up by a 1-0 victory away to Estonia. Admittedly, both games are probably ones that the Green and White Army would have anticipated winning but the performances will have pleased head coach Ian Baraclough especially with so many key players missing. This next game is a step up in terms of the challenge though. Northern Ireland are still without the likes of Jonny Evans, Corry Evans, Stuart Dallas, Josh Magennis, Liam Boyce, and Paddy McNair but George Saville is available again after suspension. The team are only 3 points behind their opponents heading into this game so a win could see them leapfrog Switzerland into 2nd place.

Switzerland have an opportunity to put a huge dent in Northern Ireland's qualification hopes by getting a victory here. Murat Yakin's side picked up a valuable 1-1 draw with Italy in their game over the weekend. That followed a hard-fought 2-1 friendly win over Greece just a few days earlier. Yakin has started his tenure in charge of the Red Crosses after the departure of Vladimir Petkovic in a satisfactory manner with those two results. A win here would move Switzerland to just 1 point behind Italy with a game in hand and send them 5 points clear of 3rd placed Bulgaria. It would all but ensure at least a play-off spot for Switzerland bar a huge collapse in their remaining group matches.

This is going to be a very hard task for Northern Ireland. It would be challenging enough without the absentees but those missing players are so key to what Baraclough's side do that it's a big ask for them to get something against this talented Switzerland team who looked decent against Italy a few days ago. I have to back a narrow Switzerland win that will all but end Northern Ireland qualification hopes.

Switzerland HT/FT @ 2.65 with Mansion Bet

Total Goals Scored Under 2.5 @ 1.75 with SBK

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Poland vs England

Arguably, the biggest game in Group I of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in the UEFA section is taking place at 7:45pm BST on Wednesday night when Poland host England at the PGE Narodowy in Warsaw. The pressure is on the home side to win this game if they want to keep their automatic qualification hopes realistically alive but they face an in-form visiting team who haven't dropped a single point so far.

Poland have it all to do heading into this game. Paulo Sousa's men sit in 2nd place in the group and 5 points behind the leaders, and their opponents for this game, England. The White and Reds have been in prolific form so far in this international window with a 4-1 win at home to Albania and a 7-1 win away to group minnows San Marino. The Poles have only ever managed 1 win against England in 20 encounters and that came in a 2-0 victory during the 1974 World Cup qualifiers. The back-to-back wins enjoyed by Poland ended a winless run of 6 matches and leaves them 1 point clear of 3rd placed Albania. Failure to win this game will not only all but end their hopes of topping the group but it will also allow the likes of Albania and Hungary the chance to get back into qualification reckoning.

England head into this game knowing a win will send them 8 points clear of their opponents and on the brink of automatically qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Gareth Southgate's men have been business-like in their performances so far in this window with a 4-0 win away to Hungary followed up by a 4-0 victory at home to Andorra. The Three Lions must now attempt to make it 6 wins from their 6 qualification games at a venue that they were held to a 1-1 draw when they last visited in October 2012 during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. England have won 4 of the last 5 meetings so they can be confident in their efforts to try and get the win they desperately want.

I'm not sure Poland are reaching their full potential under Sousa but they still possess a wealth of quality players who will cause any team problems. This is particularly the case on home soil. England are proving to be an elite force under Southgate and whether you think they could be playing better under him or not they are still getting the job done. I think in their current form that England have to be backed to win this one but it's going to be their toughest group game yet.

England to Win & BTTS @ 4.50 with William Hill

Anytime Scorer: Harry Kane @ 2.30 with Unibet

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Wales vs Estonia

The final game I'm previewing from this round of 2022 World Cup qualification matches in the UEFA section is the 7:45pm BST kick-off on Wednesday night between Wales and Estonia in Group E from the Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff. The home side have a chance to move into 2nd place and crank up the pressure on group leaders Belgium if they were to seal a victory here.

Wales might be in complete disarray behind the scenes with Ryan Giggs still awaiting trial for assaulting his girlfriend and a wealth of players being ruled out of recent matches due to injury, suspension, covid isolation, and visa issues but somehow they keep grinding out the results. A dour 0-0 draw in a friendly with Finland kicked off their international window and a dramatic 3-2 win away to Belarus, including a hat-trick from Gareth Bale, saw them navigate their way past the potential banana skin. The Dragons now face group minnows Estonia at home knowing a win will propel them to 2nd place and ahead of rivals Czech Republic. Robert Page leads his Welsh side into this game knowing Wales have won both of their previous encounters with Estonia. Wales have only lost 1 of their last 16 qualification games at home. That solitary defeat came way back in October, 2017 against Republic of Ireland. The Welsh have also conceded just 3 goals in their last 13 home games in all competitions.

Estonia might be ranked 110th in the FIFA world rankings but they are still proving to be a tough side to beat. Head coach Thomas Haberli's side are bottom of the group with a goal difference of -9. However, before the defeats to Belgium and Northern Ireland in this international window they had gone on a 3-game winning streak against Lithuania, Finland, and Latvia. Estonia have lost 6 of their 7 away international qualifiers against UK nations with the only win coming against Northern Ireland in October, 2011. It's only 1 win from their last 18 qualification matches.

This is a game that Wales simply must win if they're to keep their realistic qualification hopes alive. Can Wales still catch Belgium? There's a chance but it would require us winning all of our remaining games including Czech Republic away and Belgium at home. It's a tall order but we need to win games like this to have any chance of it happening. We should get past this one but it might be a struggle again. Bale got us out of trouble against Belarus and we'll need him again. Hopefully, he can do the business because we are seriously short of quality on the pitch.

Wales to Win to Nil @ 1.91 with BetVictor

Anytime Scorer: Gareth Bale @ 1.80 with Bet365

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