Scotland and Ireland have both seen their odds of reaching Euro 2012 come in after scoring satisfying results in their respective crunch qualifiers last night.
Craig Levein’s men were rated as 4/1 shots to secure second place in Group I prior to their narrow 1-0 victory over Lithuania, but can now be backed at 15/4 to leapfrog Czech Republic and clinch a spot behind runaway leaders Spain.
Scotland’s remaining fixtures see them travel to Liechtenstein and then Spain for a double-header in October, while the Czechs welcome the world champions and then face a trip to Lithuania.
With a two-point deficit to make up – and assuming Xavi, Andres Iniesta and company will see off both teams – Scotland must realistically beat Liechtenstein and hope that Lithuania can pull off a shock in the final round of clashes.
If the two sides finish level on points, the Czechs will advance to the play-offs by virtue of their better head-to-head record, which explains why they are the heavy 3/20 favourites to get the job done.
Ireland, meanwhile, are still in the mix to qualify automatically after picking up a respectable 0-0 draw against Russia, despite riding their luck for long periods in Moscow.
Group B is bubbling up to a thrilling conclusion ahead of the final two matches, with Russia sitting top on 17 points, two clear of Ireland and three clear of Armenia and Slovakia.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s men are now rated as 3/1 shots to top the group – compared to 4/1 before they kicked off at the Luzhniki Stadium – and certainly have a decent chance to achieve their goal.
They should get three points from their trip to whipping boys Andorra and will be confident of winning their final match at home to Armenia, although the surprise packages of the group should not be underestimated after their stunning 4-0 success in Slovakia last night.
However, the good news for Ireland is that, in the most basic terms, two victories guarantees that they will at least be in the play-offs.
Russia, whose group winner odds are now in from 2/5 to 7/25, travel to Slovakia for what looks to be a key clash on October 7th, before completing their campaign with a home match against Andorra.
The Slovakians, priced at 18/1 to top the standings, conclude with a trip to Macedonia, while Armenia (who are 40/1 shots to qualify automatically) welcome the same opposition prior to their Dublin date with Trapattoni’s troops.
However, the news was not so good for Northern Ireland, who slumped to a shock 4-1 defeat in Estonia, hot on the heels of their 1-0 reverse at the hands of Serbia at Windsor Park last Friday.
Their hopes of reaching Poland and Ukraine are now as good as over, as shown by their 100/1 odds to finish in the top two of Group C.
Nigel Worthington’s men sit second bottom and would need to beat Estonia at home and Italy away – and have other results go in their favour – to snatch an unlikely play-off place.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Euro 2012 qualifier odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting