Italy will become the first European side to guarantee their place at the 2014 World Cup if they beat the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
The four-time world champions, who can be backed at 18/1 to land the showpiece tournament in Brazil, continued their unbeaten surge through Group B with a typically Italian workmanlike 1-0 win over Bulgaria.
Their fifth victory in seven qualification games, courtesy of Alberto Gilardino’s first half header, suggests that this Italian team have sustained their team unity that was on show during Euro 2012, where they finished as runners-up after losing 4-0 to Spain in the final.
Punters looking to back Cesare Prandelli’s side on Tuesday against the Czechs can get 5/12 on a home win while the visitors are available at 27/4.
Beneath them in the group, it is an open contest between Bulgaria, Denmark, Armenia and the Czechs for the play-off spot.
All four teams are only separated by one point and unless one of them starts picking up maximum points in their remaining games rather than draws, then Group B could be the group where the second placed nation doesn’t accumulate enough points to make it to the play-off round.
Much like the Italians, fellow European giants Germany and Spain are both cantering towards winning their respective groups with minimal fuss.
Germany, who are the second favourites at 4/1 in the World Cup betting, are five points clear at the top of Group C after sweeping aside Austria 3-0 in Munich.
Joachim Löw’s men take on the Faroe Islands on Tuesday and are as short as 8/1 to win that game 7-0.
Qualification is just around the corner for Spain too, who beat Finland 2-0 in Group I and then saw rivals France draw in Georgia, which puts the world and European champions three points clear with just two games remaining.
bwin are currently offering the standout price for Spain to defend their World Cup crown at 11/2.