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 By Derek Bilton

Northern Ireland to draw with Switzerland, Croatia to beat Greece?

It was another profitable weekend for the column as Manchester City obliged on the handicap against Arsenal and AC Milan did the business against Sassuolo. The World Cup playoffs take centre-stage this week with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland both in action.

Running total: -£68.08

The Home Banker

Greece's playoff first leg against Croatia looked tough enough before news broke that Kostas Manolas, their star defender, would miss the game for "intentionally seeking a yellow card" in a previous World Cup qualifier. It's a hammer blow for Greece, who will head to Zagreb looking to keep things tight. Croatia are favourite to grab one of Europe's four remaining tickets to the World Cup and look worth a punt here to win to nil on home soil.

Selection: £4 on Croatia to win to nil at 21/20 with bet365.

The Tasty Treble

Croatia (2/5) look bankers but the other World Cup playoff taking place on Thursday looks much tougher to call as Northern Ireland host Switzerland. Irish boss Michael O'Neill hinted how his team may set up when he said last week "we need it to be close because I don't think we are going to come through a high-scoring tie." The draw at Windsor Park has been chalked up at 2/1 and looks good value. Elsewhere Honduras (21/20) can be backed to gain the advantage from their playoff with Australia. Honduras stunned Mexico 3-2 in the final round of qualifying matches to reach this stage and will fancy their chances against the Socceroos on home soil. The treble is a 7.61/1 shout with bet365 and looks interesting.

Selection: £2 on treble at 7.61/1 with bet365.

The Euro Wager

Romania face Turkey on Thursday in an international friendly that may go under the radar but could be worth following from a betting perspective. Romania won't be going to the World Cup after finishing fourth in Group E. Turkey also finished off the pace in Group I but with both teams set to blood new talent, the draw could be worth backing at 9/4.

Selection: £2 on draw at 9/4 with bet365.

The Wildcard Tip

Switzerland had won all nine of their World Cup qualifiers before running into Portugal in their final Group B game. A 2-0 loss consigned them to the playoffs and while they start as favourites to beat Northern Ireland it's not going to be easy in Belfast. The Irish will want to turn this into a dogfight and so it might be worth going for the 0-0 draw which in truth would not be the worst result in the world for either team.

Selection: £2 on 0-0 draw at 11/2 with bet365.

The Bookie Basher

Away from the playoffs, two teams who won't be in Russia next summer meet at Pittodrie as Scotland face Netherlands. Interim Scottish boss Malky Mackay has named eight uncapped players in his squad to face the Dutch, with Aberdeen striker Ryan Christie among those who have been called up. It could take a while for this new look Scottish side to gel and they could be handed a painful lesson against Netherlands, who are as big as 7/1 to win both halves on Thursday night.

Selection: £1 on Netherlands to win both halves at 7/1 with bet365.

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