The 2018 FIFA World Cup is drawing ever closer and nations around the world are trying their best to be in Russia next summer. One of the most exciting matches in the Asian World Cup qualifying section this week sees United Arab Emirates play Saudi Arabia. Both teams are still in contention to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals and are in Group B of the third round of Asian qualifying. The top two teams automatically qualify for the World Cup and Japan sit top of the group with 17 points and Saudi Arabia are second with 16 points.
United Arab Emirates start this match in 4th place on 10 points and must win this match to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
United Arab Emirates Form
United Arab Emirates were very disappointed to come away from their last qualifying match in Thailand with just a point. However, having fallen behind in the game they needed a 93rd minute equaliser in Bangkok.
That result means it is now 3 games without a win in World Cup qualifying for United Arab Emirates and they must get back to winning ways.
At home in Group B of the third round of qualifying they have won 2 and lost 2 of their 4 matches, with the wins coming against Thailand and Iraq. There have been defeats against Australia and Japan.
United Arab Emirates have kept just a single clean sheet in their 8 group games.
Saudi Arabia Form
Saudi Arabia went down 3-2 in Australia last time out and were unlucky not to come away with something to show for their efforts. They twice came from behind to equalise in the game but could not prevent Australia from scoring a winning goal in the second half. That was Saudi Arabia’s second defeat in the group having also lost 2-1 in Japan.
Away from home in Group B, Saudi Arabia have defeated Thailand and Iraq but were defeated by Japan and Australia. They have kept one clean sheet on the road but have scored at least one goal in each of their 4 away matches.
Both teams have a player on 4 goals in this qualifying group and will be hoping they are fit to start the match. United Arab Emirates will need Ahmed Khali to be available, having scored crucial goals in the win at Japan and Ali Mabkhout who netted the late equaliser in Thailand. Saudi Arabia will be looking towards Nawaf Al Abed for goals having scored 4 from midfield.
Top Betting Tips
Despite being the away team, Saudi Arabia come into this match as the favourites with the bookmakers priced at 13/10 with William Hill. However, United Arab Emirates have already picked up a draw at home against them earlier in World Cup qualifying and the draw at 12/5 with Ladbrokes seems the better bet.
Saudi Arabia have scored at least one goal in each of their 4 away games in this group and if they continue that trend, United Arab Emirates will need at least one of their own to get something from the game. The draw and both teams to score is 15/4 with Ladbrokes.
If the match is tight going into this final 15 minutes, United Arab Emirates will have no choice but to attack. They need to win this game and that could make for an exciting end to the match. Ladbrokes offer 6/4 for over 1.5 goals in the second half.