World Cup Qualifier: 2nd Half looks best bet for goals in Australia’s must-win World Cup qualifier with Saudi Arabia

Australia hosting Saudi Arabia in a crucial game in Australia's quest to secure direct qualification for the finals of World Cup 2018.

Recommended bet: Highest Scoring Half – Second Half @ 21/20 (2.05) with bet365

It’s an absolutely crucial game for Australia in their quest to secure direct qualification for the finals of World Cup 2018 on Thursday.

Anything less than a victory over Saudi Arabia at the Adelaide Oval is likely to consign them to the potential lottery of the play-offs, where they would ultimately have to face a tough test from a CONCACAF team for a place in Russia.

With three rounds of matches in the group stage remaining, the Socceroos find themselves three points adrift of table-topping Japan and the second-placed Saudis in Group B.

Despite lying third in the group, it’s the Socceroos who remain the only undefeated team in Group B.  The problem is that they have drawn four of their seven fixtures to date.

The reverse fixture at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah back in October 2016 ended in a 2-2 draw.  After falling behind in the opening five-minutes, goals from Trent Sainsbury and Tomi Juric had Australia in charge until a late equalizer from the Saudis brought parity.  It required goalkeeper Mat Ryan to pull off a sensational save late on to keep the hosts out and preserve a point.

Head Coach Ange Postecoglou has named an experienced 23-man squad, although there was room for three uncapped players in Ajdin Hrustic, Dylan McGowan and Danny Vukovic.  The other names are more familiar, including the likes of Mile Jedinak, Tim Cahill, Tom Rogic, Mat Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie and Mark Milligan.

The best odds you can get for the Socceroos to win the match at present is a fairly short-priced 1/2 (1.50) with Sportsbet.  That’s a little too short to attract us, so we’ve gone to the Highest Scoring Half betting market instead, where you can get an acceptable 21/20 (2.05) with bet365.

That looks to be a reasonable World Cup bet in a game in which we expect the Socceroos to win, but also in a game where there could be a few risks taken until late on by one side or the other, with one team sure to need a goal to keep their automatic 2018 World Cup qualification hopes on track.