International Friendlies Preview

International-Friendies Preview

With the international break taking centre stage, our in-house scribe previews selected friendlies taking place this weekend.

The international break is upon us with all the top teams making preparations for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. There are some cracking friendlies to look forward to this week and some great value on offer.

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Friday 10 November


Korea of Republic 26/10 | Draw 21/10 | Colombia 11/10 (13:00)

Korea Republic qualified for their ninth straight World Cup by finishing runners-up in Group A of the Asian qualifiers. A record of four wins from five at home helped to offset three defeats on the road as the Taegeuk Warriors edged Syria to claim second spot. After securing their place at Russia 2018, Korea Republic played two friendlies last month. They were beaten 4-2 away to Russia and lost 3-1 at home to Morocco. They remain winless in their last six matches.

This will be Colombia’s first friendly since the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers. Los Cafeteros won just seven of 18 qualifying games and lost five but managed to earn a spot at next year's showpiece. With the likes of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao, Colombia should have enough quality to win the match.

Japan 10/1 | Draw 9/2 | Brazil 1/4 (14:00)
Brazil take on Japan in a friendly in France on Friday at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. Japan booked their spot at Russia 2018 after winning Group B of the Asian qualifiers. They won six of their 10 games and lost two, finishing a point above Saudi Arabia and Australia. The Samurai Blue played two friendlies on home soil last month. They beat New Zealand 2-1, before playing to a 3-3 draw with Haiti. Japan will be without star trio Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda who have played integral roles in the past decade after Vahid Halilhodzic decided against selecting them.

This will be Brazil’s first friendly after topping the South American qualification table by 10 points. The five-time World Cup winners won 12 of their 18 games and lost just once, scoring 41 goals and conceding 11 times. The Selecao have quality in every position and they’re tipped on the (-1) Handicap at 7/10.

Belgium 9/20 | Draw 33/10 | Mexico 11/2 (21:45)
Belgium host Mexico at Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels on Friday night. This will be the sides’ first friendly since qualifying for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. Roberto Martinez’s side became the first European team to qualify for the showpiece. They finished on top of their qualifying group with nine wins and a draw from 10 matches, scoring 43 goals while conceding six times.

Mexico were the first CONCACAF team to qualify for Russia, finishing top of their qualifying group with 21 points. Belgium are unbeaten in their last six matches on home soil with five wins, netting 28 goals while conceding three. Mexico have struggled on their travels and with the Red Devils’ attacking threat of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, the hosts are tipped to win. 

Poland 31/20 | Draw 21/10 | Uruguay 37/20 (21:45)

Uruguay travel to Warsaw to face Poland on Friday. Poland secured their place at Russia 2018 after winning Group E, finishing five points above Denmark. They won eight of their 10 matches, drawing and losing once. The Eagles scored 28 goals in their qualifying group with 16 of those coming from Robert Lewandowski.

Uruguay qualified for the showpiece in Russia by finishing runners-up in the South American qualification table, 10 points behind Brazil. Luis Suarez has been left out of Oscar Tabarez’s squad through injury, however, Edinson Cavani has been the main man for La Celeste in the qualifiers, finishing top scorer with 10 goals. I’m going for Both Teams to Score at 9/10.



France 1/4 | Draw 17/4 | Wales 11/1 (22:00)
France welcome Wales to the Stade de France on Friday. Didier Deschamps has a few high-profile players absent with Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Hugo Lloris, Thomas Lemar and Ousmane Dembele all missing. The big news for Wales is that Gareth Bale is in the squad despite not featuring for Real Madrid since September because of a calf injury. Les Bleus secured their ticket to the World Cup finals after finishing top in their group with 23 points from 10 games.

The Dragons failed to qualify for Russia 2018, drawing half of their games, squandering the lead in four of those five fixtures and leaving themselves with too much work to do in the closing stages of the campaign. I’m backing France to win at 1/4.

Portugal 2/13 | Draw 57/10 | Saudi Arabia 17/1 (22:45)
Portugal host Saudi Arabia on Friday night with coach Fernando Santos leaving out Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani from his 24-man squad. This will be the sides’ first friendly since qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia. The European champions booked their ticket to Russia by winning Group B ahead of Switzerland and Hungary.

Saudi Arabia secured their place by finishing runners-up behind Japan after edging out Australia on goal difference. These teams last met in a friendly back in 2006 with Portugal running out 3-0 winners. Despite missing some of their key players, Santos’ side should oust their opponents. 

Saturday 11 November

Russia 7/2 | Draw 24/10 | Argentina 8/10 (15:00)

World Cup 2018 hosts Russia welcome Argentina to the Luzhniki Stadium on Saturday. These sides last met in a friendly back in 2009 with La Albiceleste winning 3-2 in Moscow. The Russians played two friendlies on home soil last month. After beating Korea Republic 4-2, they played to a 1-1 draw with Iran. A good performance against Jorge Sampaoli’s men will give them great confidence they can compete against the world’s best.

Argentina overcame a scare to book their place in next year's showpiece after beating Ecuador 3-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Lionel Messi. La Albiceleste are unbeaten in their last four away matches with three wins, including a 1-0 friendly win over Brazil in June. Back Argentina to win at 8/10. 

Macedonia 37/20 | Draw 2/1 | Norway 31/20 (21:00)

Norway take on Macedonia at the Telekom Arena on Saturday. It was always going to be mission impossible for Macedonia to qualify for next year’s World Cup, especially being in the same group with Spain and Italy who both qualified. The Red Lions finished fifth in the six-team group with 11 points from 10 games. They did manage to go unbeaten in their last four matches. They won 1-0 at Israel, before back-to-back draws with Albania (home) and Italy (away) and thumped Liechtenstein 4-0 at home.

Norway missed out on a place at Russia 2018 as they finished fourth in their qualifying group behind Northern Ireland and group winners Germany. Lars Lagerback’s side have lost just once in their last six matches, winning three times. I’m tipping the sides to cancel each other out. 

Spain 1/7 | Draw 6/1 | Costa Rica 16/1 (22:30)
Spain are strong favourites to see off Costa Rica on Saturday night. Julen Lopetegui’s side are unbeaten in 14 matches with 11 wins, including victories over Belgium, France and Italy. La Roja are on a five-match winning run and will look to continue their hot streak against La Tricolor.

In their last four wins, they’ve netted 15 goals without reply and are undefeated in their last eight games on home soil with seven wins, keeping six clean sheets. Spain last met Costa Rica in a friendly two years ago with La Roja winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Paco Alcacer and Cesc Fabregas. La Tricolor are winless in three matches and suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Panama last time out. I’m backing Spain to win with a clean sheet at 5/10.

TREBLE TIPPED @ 4/1

Belgium Win 9/20
Poland vs Uruguay BTTS 9/10
Argentina Win 8/10



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