The UEFA Nations League kicks off on Thursday the 11th of October 2018 with some exciting matches to look forward to.
Club football takes a break once again as the UEFA Nations League fixtures come thick and fast. This weekend throws a few blockbusters our way with 2018 World Cup finalists, Croatia, locking horns with England, while high-flying Belgium square off with Switzerland.
Meanwhile, a Ronaldo-less Portugal face an Italy side hoping to bounce back under Roberto Mancini. The tie between Netherlands and Germany also promises to be mouth-watering, while we close proceedings with Spain taking on England in the Three Lions’ second UEFA Nations League encounter this week.
Friday 12 October
Belgium will look to do what is expected of them this Friday and brush aside Switzerland. Since losing to France in the semi-finals of the World Cup, Belgium have endured a three-game winning streak, beating England to finish third in the world, and cruising past Scotland and Iceland. They’ve kept three clean sheets in as many games in that run and with Eden Hazard in the form of his life, they should have no troubles.
Switzerland hammered Iceland 6-0 in their Nations League opener, but suffered defeat in Wembley against England a few days later. Belgium should have too much class for the Swiss here – get on at 9/20.
After an impressive World Cup display in Russia, Croatia seem to have suffered somewhat of a setback, or perhaps it was champagne hangovers as the Croats remain winless since reaching the final, and come off the back of a 6-0 demolition against Spain. England also lost their encounter to Spain – a 2-1 defeat at Wembley, although they bounced back in a friendly against Switzerland to regain that winning feeling.
Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund has looked sharp so far this season, so too has Ross Barkley for Chelsea, but the Three Lions will need Harry Kane to get on the scoresheet and rebuild some of his confidence, which seems to have taken a dip of late. My money is on Over 2.5 Goals here at 12/10.
Northern Ireland 57/10
Austria hope to get their Nations League campaign back on track when they host Northern Ireland, who have struggled in recent months, especially away from home, where they have failed to score in four outings.
At home, Austria have been a joy to watch. They beat Germany, Sweden and Russia, losing just once in 11 encounters, a 3-0 drubbing against Brazil. Marko Arnautovic has been lively this season and has found new life in his new striking role which was first deployed at club level. At 5/10, Austria should pick up their first win in the Nations League.
Saturday 13 October
Netherlands will be hoping for a turnaround performance when they face 2014 world champions, Germany, after losing their Nations League opener against current world champions, France. The Dutch have been a team on the decline for many years, but with the young guns firing up front, Ronald Koeman’s men will feel they have a chance.
Germany have also opted to go with a few youngsters, but also have the experience of Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller to call upon. The Germans drew their first encounter, 0-0 against France, but should come out on top against so-called lesser opposition. Back the away win here at 21/20.
Republic of Ireland 21/10
Martin O’Neill will be hoping to inspire his Irish charges when they prepare to host Denmark in the UEFA Nations League. The Republic of Ireland have won just once in their last seven matches and suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at home against this weekend’s opponents, Denmark.
The Danes were impressive in the World Cup and with Kasper Schmeichel and Christian Eriksen at their best, it would take something special for Denmark to come out second best. Back the visitors to come out on top here, just as they did last year in a 5-1 drubbing.
Sunday 14 October
Russia did a fantastic job in hosting one of the most memorable FIFA World Cups earlier this year, but the show must go on, with competitive football coming thick and fast for Russia. But since they crashed out of the World Cup, Russia went on to beat their opponents, Turkey, 2-1 away from home and then Czech Republic 5-1 in a friendly.
The Turks started their Nations League off with a defeat against Russia, but picked things up away from home as they grinded out a 3-2 win in Sweden. They’re unbeaten in their last four matches and will prove to be no pushovers. Back a share of the spoils here.
After a dismal World Cup showing in Russia, Poland seem to have found their rhythm and are now unbeaten in three matches. They closed their campaign with a 1-0 win over Japan, then later went on to draw with Italy and the Republic of Ireland last month. Italy head into the international break with a four-game winless run, but could rectify things in a friendly against Ukraine before they face Poland.
Away from Italy, Roberto Mancini’s men have been dreadful, failing to win in their last five matches, losing four times. Their young defence hasn’t managed to cope with the pressure of facing the big guns, and I could certainly see this going wrong for the 2006 world champions. Back Poland here at a valuable 18/10.
Monday 15 October
Things are not looking good for the Icelandic Vikings as they sit rooted to the foot of Group 2 in League A, losing both their opening two matches (6-0 away to Switzerland and 3-0 at home to Belgium). At the time of writing, Iceland are winless in nine matches, including a winless run in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Switzerland play Belgium before they face Iceland, but will be confident heading into this game, despite what might happen on Friday. The Swiss bulldozed their way past Iceland before and should do enough to grind another victory. Get on the away win here.
After a disappointing World Cup, Spain appointed Luis Enrique and as expected, the former Barcelona mentor has taken the 2010 world champions forward. They beat England at Wembley last month and smashed six past Croatia a few days later.
Gareth Southgate has set one eye on Euro 2020 preparations as the English boss opted to call a few new faces to the national team, including Leicester City’s James Maddison. Enrique has also called up a few youngsters, and in Spain, I simply give England no chance here. Back the home side.
Tuesday 16 October
World champions, France, have simply been untouchable in the last year, enduring a 13-game unbeaten run, including success at the FIFA World Cup. Germany did manage to hold France after the World Cup, but looking at Joachim Low’s team selected, they could fall short against the mighty Les Bleus.
Kylian Mbappe has been phenomenal this season, while N’Golo Kante and Antoine Griezmann have also looked sharp. It will certainly be a cagey affair, but France are backed to win.
TREBLE TIPPED @ 5/1
Belgium Win 9/20
Austria Win 5/10
Poland Win 18/10