- The opening games of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers in Europe take place on Wednesday, March 24
- Among the big names kicking off on Matchday 1 (part 1) is Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Portugal
- We list the odds for all 12 games and preview three, offering our best picks
Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins in Europe this week with Groups A, D, E, G, and H all kicking off on Wednesday. The big tie of the round is Belgium vs Wales, with Netherlands, France, and Portugal also among the big names hoping to get their qualifying campaign off to a winning start.
We list all 12 games, show the odds, preview three, and offer some picks for each below.
World Cup European Qualifying Odds
|Turkey vs Netherlands||+350||+270||-136|
|Belgium vs Wales||-345||+430||+900|
|Malta vs Russia||+2400||+750||-1000|
|Cyprus vs Slovakia||+340||+230||-115|
|Estonia vs Czech Republic||+2000||+575||-670|
|Finland vs Bosnia & Herzegovina||+170||+200||+180|
|France vs Ukraine||-385||+460||+1000|
|Gibraltar vs Norway||+5000||+1600||-10000|
|Latvia vs Montenegro||+475||+220||-137|
|Portugal vs Azerbaijan||-5000||+1400||+4500|
|Serbia vs Republic of Ireland||-157||+240||+525|
|Slovenia vs Croatia||+420||+225||-130|
All odds taken Mar 23 at DraftKings
Belgium vs Wales Prediction
The King Baudoin Stadium, Brussels, plays host to a repeat of the Euro 2016 quarterfinal in Lille, which ended in a dramatic 3-1 victory for the Welsh. The pair have not met since and, aside from wanting to get their campaign off to a winning start, the high-flying Belgians will want to set that particular record straight.
— City Chief (@City_Chief) March 19, 2021
The Belgians are in good form and are looking for their fifth consecutive win in all competitions, but will be without the injured Eden Hazard – a major positive for the Welsh. Belgium does, however, have a squad full of quality, as befitting a team currently ranked number one by FIFA, and in Kevin de Bruyne they have arguably the best midfielder in the world. They also have Romelu Lukaku leading their line, the scorer of 25 goals already this season for his club, Inter Milan.
For Wales, the key figure remains Gareth Bale, who will benefit from having had plenty of game time recently for Tottenham, but the Welsh Dragons will be without Juve’s Aaron Ramsey who is out with a thigh injury.
Gareth Bale: “I still have a year left at Real Madrid Madrid. My plan is to go back to Real, as I came to Spurs to play football, but into the Euros, I wanted to be match fit. The plan was only to do a season at Spurs."
Wales. Golf. Madrid. Spurs. pic.twitter.com/dGPd0vTGAR
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) March 23, 2021
While the Belgians naturally start this as favorites, the Welsh should not be ignored. Ryan Giggs has built a young, vibrant team that, with the help of the experienced Bale, will be playing in the Euro finals this summer. Minus the services of Hazard and with no fans inside the King Baudoin, I have a sneaky feeling that Wales – FIFA ranked at 18 – can grab a surprise draw here.
Picks: Belgium and Wales to draw (+430) / Bale to score the first goal (+900)
Finland vs Bosnia & Herzegovina Prediction
Finland will participate in a major tournament for the first time in their history this summer, having qualified for Euro 2021, and will be hopeful of making it to their second in Qatar. A home tie in Helsinki’s Helsingor Stadion against Bosnia & Herzegovina is not a bad way for the Finns to start their campaign, with their excellent home form being the bedrock of their Euro qualifying campaign.
"I'm speechless. This is sick. We made it!"
Finland's men have qualified for a major tournament for the first time in their history and striker Teemu Pukki could barely believe it.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 15, 2019
Worth noting is that the Bosnians were beaten 2-0 by Finland in Helsinki in those Euro qualifiers, and so already have a slight psychological advantage over their visitors. Especially with leading scorer Teemu Pukki in fine form at club level. On a more positive note for the Bosnians, it looks as if all of their big guns are going to be available for this tie, notably striker and captain Edin Dzeko, and key midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
— Edin Džeko 9- Fans (@dzeko_diamond) March 22, 2021
Another big plus for Bosnia & Herzegovina is that the last time these two met – in Zenica in the latter stages of Euro qualifying – they dished a 4-1 thrashing, and so everything points to this being a close one. The draw at +200 is tempting but with Dzeko and Pjanic both available, there is value in the +180 for the away win.
Pick: Bosnia & Herzegovina to win (+180)
Serbia vs Republic of Ireland Prediction
Under the guidance of new management, the Serbs will be hopeful of starting their World Cup campaign with a win. Dragan Stojkovic was only appointed in early March and so will be hoping that the ‘new manager bounce’ will work in his favor as his new team takes on a struggling Republic of Ireland side that has slipped to 42 in the FIFA rankings.
🇷🇸 Dušan Tadić has been directly involved in a goal in each of his last 10 club games 😎
🤔 Will he lead Serbia to World Cup qualifying success? pic.twitter.com/tTTj0SkQgE
— European Qualifiers (@EURO2020) March 23, 2021
The Irish failed to qualify for this summer’s Euros and have, in fact, failed to score in their last seven matches in all competitions, so this is a big ask for Stephen Kenny’s men. The Serbs – ranked 30 by FIFA – only just missed out on this summer’s Euros and failed at the very final hurdle when they lost out to Scotland in the playoffs via a penalty shootout.
📍 Belgrade, Serbia
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 22, 2021
Stojkovic has wasted no time in refreshing his squad and has left out the experience of Luka Milivojevic and Aleksandar Kolarov in favor of a younger, more energetic group but which still contains quality in the form of Dusan Tadic and striker Luka Jovic. For me, even at odds on, the home win here looks easy money.
Picks: Serbia to win (-157) / Luka Jovic to score (+155)