Ireland 0-1 Armenia: Ireland seem likely to play a defensive 4-4-2, something Giovanni Trapattoni has done 33 time in 36 games as Ireland manager. If Armenia are smart, they will put 5 in the midfield, won’t give away free kicks, and move the ball around, something Russia was really successful with as they dominated Ireland at home, but failed to score.
And Armenia can play: witness the 4-0 win over Slovakia. They won’t sneak up on anybody tomorrow, but everything seems to conspiring against the Irish. Armenia is hitting their top form, just as Ireland lose influential forward Robbie Keane.
Still, it should be a tight and tense game in Dublin, with Ireland only needing a draw to keep the playoff spot from Armenia.
Germany 3-1 Belgium and Turkey 1-0 Azerbaijan: Belgium’s bigger need seems unlikely to help them here, as the Germans always come motivated. Tomorrow, they’re playing for a perfect record in qualifying. It means Turkey won’t need to get points against Azerbaijan, whom they lost 1-0 to in an earlier fixture.
Sweden 1-2 Netherlands: The match-up favors the attacking Dutch, as Sweden will want to push forward. Holland is inconsistent, but without Ibrahimovic, how will Sweden score enough to keep up with Holland’s high-power offense?
Denmark 3-1 Portugal: Expect lots of goals. The Portuguese defense isn’t the same without Carvalho. At the other end of the pitch, they have averaged 2.9 goals a game under Paulo Bento. Denmark’s excellent defense allowed three.
Of course, any game with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo, who is struggling with an injury, will have some goals. Another injury problem for Portugal: Pepe, a huge part of their defensive game-plan.
Slovenia 0-0 Serbia: Serbia is likely to win. They are more talented, and absolutely need to win, while Slovenia hasn’t been great at home. However, the defensive mindset of both teams could be enough for huge underdogs Estonia, who must simply sit and watch. If Estonia hadn’t lost to the Faroe Islands, we would be robbed of another tight group finish.
France 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina: Hard to argue with Edin Dzeko’s form.
Georgia 0-1 Greece: The Greeks, unbeaten in 15 games, could find Georgia a lot tougher then they expect. But the bottom line: Greece won’t allow a goal, thus ensuring qualification to Euro 2012, and putting Croatia into the playoffs (or into the Euro as the best second-place finisher).
Czech Republic 0-0 Lithuania and Spain 4-0 Scotland: The Czechs won’t have any trouble holding Lithuania, who have not won at home yet (and one of their three matches was against Liechtenstein), goalless. Jiracek, who just earned his first national team call-up last month, was inspirational against Spain. They might have more trouble scoring, with Baros out of form, but it won’t matter, because Spain doesn’t know how to turn off, and they are hosting a limited Scottish team.
MORE PREDICTIONS: 6 KEY WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Thailand 1-1 Saudi Arabia
Bolivia 0-0 Colombia
Indonesia 0-2 Qatar
Paraguay 0-2 Uruguay
Chile 3-2 Peru
Venezuela 1-4 Argentina