England should cruise to victory in their opening qualifier for the 2022 World Cup when they face minnows San Marino at Wembley on Thursday night.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate does have a few injury problems to contend with, but his side can score goals for fun against their weak international opponents.
Even though Marcus Rashford is a doubt for the game due to a foot injury, and Bukayo Saka misses out with a hamstring problem, Southgate still has a vast array of attacking options.
Ahead of kick-off, he has confirmed Harry Kane will have his game-time managed across the next few days, with England playing two further qualifiers against Albania and Poland.
However, the England skipper should start on Thursday, and he will be one to consider in the goalscorer markets. Kane has scored 20 goals in 19 appearances in qualifiers for major tournaments, with only Wayne Rooney netting in more of these games.
17/10 to score first, and he scored in England’s last win over San Marino back in 2015. England have won all six internationals against San Marino by an aggregate score of 37-1, and Kane can get England off to a flying start at Wembley.
Tough Ask for Baraclough’s Men
Northern Ireland travel to Italy for their opening qualifier for the 2022 World Cup, and they have been handed a tricky start.
Thursday’s clash will be the first meeting between the two sides since October 2011, and Northern Ireland do not have a good record in Italy.
All six of their away visits have ended in defeat, and they only found the net in one of those matches.
Italy have improved under the stewardship of Roberto Mancini, winning all 10 of their matches during qualifying for Euro 2020. The Azzurri should be a class above their opponents, and they are likely to win to nil at odds of
Scotland Up Against it at Home
Steve Clarke’s Scotland lost their final two games of 2020 in what appeared to be a hangover from their penalty shootout heroics against Serbia that sealed a Euro 2020 place.
While qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup has been rightly celebrated, they must now refocus. The Scots have home advantage against Austria, but that is not to say they will have everything their own way.
Thursday’s fixture is the first meeting between the pair since 2007, and Scotland do have a good home record in recent World Cup qualifiers.
They didn’t lose any of their five home games in the build-up to the 2018 tournament, but Austria have won 20 of the 30 matches Franco Foda has been in charge of, and they have a superb recent record on the road.
Austria won all four of their away games in 2020, and they look a great price at
5/4 to claim all three points.
*All odds correct at time of writing.