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World Cup: Preview of the Playoffs

The final two qualifiers for the World Cup finals will be decided by two Intercontinental Play-Offs, which take place in Qatar on Monday and Tuesday.

(This article was originally published on 11.06.2022)

Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Peru are the four teams battling it out for the last two places on offer for the showpiece event late on in the year.

Peru a tough nut to crack for Socceroos

What: Australia v Peru, AFC-CONMEBOL Play-off

Where: Al Rayyan Stadium, Qatar

When: 19:00, Monday 13th June 2022

Odds: Australia 7/4, Peru 2/5 (To qualify)

The first of these high-stakes contests pits AFC representatives Australia against Peru, who claimed the CONMEBOL play-off spot by finishing fifth in the South American qualifying standings.

Peru are 5/6 to beat 16/5 Australia in 90 minutes on Monday (19:00 KO), as the Socceroos bid to seal a fifth consecutive appearance at the World Cup finals.

Graham Arnold's side had to come through a tense AFC fourth-round play-off against the UAE last week, when an 84th-minute goal from Eintracht Frankfurt's Ajdin Hrustic earned them a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

They are outsiders to qualify for the finals and those odds reflect the step up in class they face against Peru, who finished behind only Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador in South American qualifying.

They pipped continental big guns Colombia and Chile to fifth place after some impressive results including away wins in Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia and a 2-0 home victory over Chile.

Peru have kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight international wins, including a 1-0 friendly victory over New Zealand earlier this month, and they are 7/4 to win to nil.

The Socceroos failed to score in their last two AFC third-round matches, losing 2-0 to Japan and 1-0 to Saudi Arabia and midfielder Tom Rogic is a significant injury absentee, but experienced defender Trent Sainsbury is fit again after missing the win over the UAE.

Peru will be hoping that striker Gianluca Lapadula can continue his impressive international form. He has scored seven goals in 21 caps and notched the first goal of the game in four of his side's last nine internationals.

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Keeper Navas could be hard to beat

What: Costa Rica v New Zealand, CONCACAF-OFC Play-off

Where: Al Rayyan Stadium, Qatar

When: 19:00, Tuesday 14th June 2022

Odds: Costa Rica 3/10, New Zealand 12/5 (To qualify)

Australia are outsiders to qualify from Monday's Intercontinental Play-Off and neighbours New Zealand are also aiming to upset the odds when they face Costa Rica on Tuesday (19:00 KO).

New Zealand are 9/2 to win in 90 minutes and qualify for November's World Cup finals in Qatar, while Costa Rica are 4/6 to seal victory in normal time.

Los Ticos earned their play-off place by finishing fourth in the CONCACAF qualifying section, level on points with a talented United States side and just three behind Canada and Mexico.

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas - who shot to prominence during Costa Rica's surprise run to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals - is a key man for the favourites, while veteran midfielders Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz have a combined total of 295 international caps.

Former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell could be the main threat to New Zealand's defence, although a tight contest is anticipated with over 2.5 goals priced up at 13/8.

Five of Costa Rica's last six international victories have been by a 1-0 or 2-0 margin and those scorelines can be backed at 4/1 and 11/2 respectively in Tuesday's play-off.

New Zealand, coached by former Leeds and Walsall defender Danny Hay, tend to dominate the Oceania qualifying section and they thrashed the Solomon Islands 5-0 at the end of March to set up the showdown with Costa Rica.

Much will depend on Newcastle United striker Chris Wood, who has scored 33 international goals while the rest of the All Whites' squad have amassed just 29 between them.

New Zealand have shown their ability to rise to the occasion in the past - they were eliminated from the 2010 World Cup despite drawing all three group games against Paraguay, Italy and Slovakia - and they are 22/1 to win in extra-time and 10/1 to qualify on penalties.

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