Every week, we usually look across Europe’s top five leagues in search of draws.
This week, however, top-division league football is on hold as the internationals games are upon us.
Last weekend, we got two out of four picks right, with Arsenal’s second-half comeback bailing us out to some degree. Yay!
All we have to work with this weekend is qualifying games from across the world (boooo!), and so we will have to make do. If life gives you lemons and all that. We will see what we can do.
Remember, every tip here is a second opinion from a complete stranger online. Ultimately, trust your discretion in selecting which picks to go with.
Lesotho VS Sierra Leone (X at 2.80)
The bottom two teams in Group L meet on Saturday with very little left to play for. Theoretically, Sierra Leone could still qualify, but it would take an improbable set of outcomes for that to come to fruition.
Instead, they will look to build some momentum following their pair of draws against Nigeria back in November. This time, they travel to face Lesotho, who are the whipping boys of group L, on an artificial surface that will probably be a greater challenge than their hosts themselves.
Neither side has won a game through the qualifying series, and they both struggle in front of goal. This lends itself to a stalemate, and when you consider how the reverse fixture went (a tense game with two red cards and ended 1-1), it is a pick that seems to suggest itself already.
Norway VS Turkey (X at 3.25)
Turkey are on a high. The 4-2 thrashing of the Netherlands on Wednesday raised eyebrows, and with Burak Yilmaz in the sort of form he showed, they are a dangerous proposition for any side.
They travel to face Norway, who have a superstar forward of their own, Erling Braut Haaland. Norway is quietly putting together a strong generation of talent, and only last week named the mercurial Martin Odegaard as captain.
Turkey breezed through Euro 2020 qualifying, only losing once and conceding a miserly three goals, with a monstrous eight clean sheets. If they could keep it tight on the road against world champions France, they surely can keep Norway at bay now.
For all their talent, the Scandinavians drew three of their five home games in that series. Underlining the sense that, for all their talent, they do not quite have the savvy to force the issue when it matters. Turkey should be able to cement an undefeated start to World Cup qualifying here.
Cape Verde VS Cameroon (X at 2.90)
Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions are undefeated in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying rounds, and are mean in defense – they have only given up one goal in the series. They hold the first position going into matchday 5, and have already qualified as hosts anyway.
As such, the stakes are relatively low for them. But that’s not the case for Cape Verde. They are joint-bottom on points with Mozambique and have yet to win a single game so far, scoring only two goals in four matches. They are not quite the force they were a couple of years ago when they rose into the top 5 of FIFA’s ranking of African national sides. However, they remain tough to beat still. They may not have won, but they haven’t lost either.
I think Cameroon will consider that Praia is a difficult location to play as well and fancy not over-extending themselves, as it is unnecessary, so the hosts will have to seize the opportunity. But also considering that they have been pretty bad at seizing moments and that the reverse fixture between the two sides ended a goalless draw, I think another draw is likely enough to warrant a flutter.