Group D has gone down to the wire and the top three can all still finish in each other’s positions. Serbia currently occupy top spot and the eastern Europeans will finish there if they can, as expected, beat fifth-place Georgia, no matter what the other two do. However, Wales and the Republic of Ireland are chasing them, and both are realistically seeking second place which could be enough for a play-off place.
As it stands, Wales are the eighth-ranked and final team in Europe to reach the two-legged play-offs, with one runner-up from the nine groups having to miss out. Although, these standings can change dramatically and quickly, even down to a single goal, so both countries will be aware that everything is riding on Monday night’s game.
The Dragons have a single point more than Ireland, so can afford to be marginally more defensive; perhaps aiming to hit Ireland on the break. This could be a useful tactic for Chris Coleman, who is without his star man Gareth Bale to due to injury.
Wales did beat Georgia last week 1-0 thanks to Tom Lawrence’s goal, but their 1-1 draw at home to the minnows last October could yet cost them a place at their first World Cup since 1958. Their semi-final showing at Euro 2016 showed that they should be taken seriously as a European force, though they will have to be at their best to deal with what will be a high-pressure occasion.
Last time the Republic and Wales met, of course, was a bad-tempered affair, with Seamus Coleman breaking his leg after a wild challenge from Neil Taylor, while Bale was also lucky to avoid being sent off for a lunge on John O’Shea.
Tipbet are expecting another tense meeting, with 62 markets for this crucial Group D World Cup qualifier. Wales, despite the absence of Bale, are regarded as favourites to win the game at 2.20. The odds for Ireland are close, however, and Martin O’Neill’s men are 3.60 to win; a draw (3.10) would see them eliminated. Plenty of other odds markets are available for all other World Cup matches with Tipbet the place to bet on the final round of group fixtures.