England face Hungary (Match betting – England 1/7, draw 13/2, Hungary 25/1) at Wembley on Tuesday night knowing they are within touching distance of securing a place in next winter’s tournament.
It has been a straightforward ride for the Three Lions thus far with six wins from seven – the 1-1 away draw at Poland last month being the only dropped points.
Saturday’s easy 5-0 thumping of Andorra took them a step closer to the plane to Qatar as they now sit on 19 points from seven games.
They are four points clear of Albania with three games left and could seal qualification on Tuesday if Albania slip up against Poland on Tuesday evening.
There is little margin for error on England’s part though, given how progressing through the play offs will not be easy.
Ten group runners up will be joined by two group winners from last season’s Nations League to battle it out in a mini tournament in March where only three teams will qualify.
Southgate will therefore insist his side stay professional but even so, it is very difficult to foresee the Euro 2020 finalists slipping up from here.
The real battle in Group I is for second – Albania, as mentioned, are sat four points behind England on 15 points with Poland (Match betting – Albania 16/5, draw 9/4, Poland EVS) a further point adrift.
Tuesday’s result between the duo could go a long way to determining who finishes second, especially considering Albania play Andorra in November in a match they would be expected to win.
Hungary are currently fourth on ten points but realistically need to win each of their last three games to grab second place.
Meanwhile, Tuesday will see San Marino host Andorra (Match betting – San Marino 11/2, draw 23/10, Andorra 7/10) as both sides attempt to avoid the wooden spoon – the hosts still awaiting their maiden win in a competitive fixture.