Russia 2018: Road to World Cup qualification

As World Cup qualification nears the halfway stage, we assess the odds of the home nations and Rep of Ireland to see how their chances fare.

Russia 2018: Road to World Cup qualification
Northern Ireland

Alongside Germany in Group C, Northern Ireland’s realistic target would have been to secure second place and qualify for the playoff. Michael O’Neill’s men began their campaign as long as 4/1 to achieve a top two finish. After a goalless draw in Czech Republic, defeat in Germany and two 4-0 home wins against San Marino and Azerbaijan, they lie in second place on seven points. They’re now best-price 9/4 to finish in the top two.

Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland have taken Group D by surprise. They were handed a very tough draw alongside Serbia, Wales and Austria but Martin O’Neill has led his side to three wins from four and they currently sit top of the pile on 10 points. Ireland host Wales in their next qualifier but having won away in Austria on the weekend, they’ll be full of confidence. They were as long as 5/1 to win the group back in September, but are now best-price 15/8.

Wales

Having impressed throughout Euro 2016, Wales began their campaign as short as 15/8 to top the group. They remain unbeaten through their first four games, but following a decent point in Austria and two disappointing home draws to Georgia and Serbia, they find themselves four points off Ireland in third. At 11/4 to win Group D, the bookies haven’t written them off, but they must get a result in Dublin.

England

Despite an eventful few months off the pitch, England have avoided any mishaps in their opening four games in Group F. Whilst a draw in Slovenia wasn’t the ideal result, wins-to-nil against Slovakia, Malta and bitter rivals Scotland, leaves Gareth Southgate’s men two points clear of the rest. England went into the qualifiers priced at 4/11 to win Group F, but are now as short as 1/10. Job done?

Scotland

It’s no secret that Gordon Strachan is under massive pressure as Scotland boss, even more so after their 3-0 drubbing by the Auld Enemy. Their campaign got off to the perfect start, hammering Malta 5-1 away from home, but the Tartan Army have only managed a point at home to Lithuania since. Scotland were 11/8 to finish in the top two and odds-on after their trip to Malta, but are now as long as 5/2 to achieve that.