The winners of the last two World Cups meet in the Nations League in Munich on Thursday when Germany will attempt to erase the memory of their early exit in Russia when they entertain France.
It is still hard to believe that Joachim Low’s side were beaten by Mexico and South Korea just over two months ago and the fall-out from their woeful displays at the World Cup are continuing.
Low has been forced to produce a document that details his team’s failings in Russia and it is difficult to see how the Germans can beat a France side so soon after the World Cup, even on home soil.
Mbappe to score the first goal @ 6/1
Didier Deschamps will be without Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda but Les Bleus are everything the Germans are not at the moment – solid, well-organised and hard-working, but with a touch of flair.
In Kylian Mbappe they had one of the stars of the World Cup and the 19-year-old has started the Ligue 1 campaign superbly, scoring four goals in Paris St-Germain’s first three matches.
He could be the difference in Munich with France good value at 3/1 to beat Low’s side by one goal.
Italy to beat Poland 2-0 @ 6/1
Italy were forced to watch the summer extravaganza at home after being knocked out in the play-offs by Sweden but they can begin their renaissance by beating a Poland side that were arguably the biggest let-down in Russia.
Despite having Robert Lewandowski in their ranks, the Poles produced virtually nothing going forward in the defeats to Senegal and Colombia and seemed disinterested and lethargic throughout their lack-lustre campaign.
Italy will be keen to show they are still a class act and will be hoping for a similar result to the last time these two teams met – the Azzurri ran out 2-0 winners in November 2011.
Roberto Mancini has shaken up the squad and the exciting Lorenzo Insigne is a good bet at 25/4 to score the first goal in Bologna.
Under 1.5 goals in Wales v Rep of Ireland @ 13/10
Ryan Giggs takes charge of his first competitive contest as Wales manager when they entertain the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff.
Giggs has named a youthful squad for the match with the likes of David Brooks and Ben Woodburn included while David Edwards and Hal Robson-Kanu have both recently announced their retirements from international football.
Martin O’Neill’s Ireland team missed out on the World Cup when they were beaten in the play-offs by Denmark but there is a feeling that a new era could be about to start for international football in the Emerald Isle.
O’Neill has named 13 players in his squad who have five caps or fewer.
The teams were in the same qualifying group for Russia and Ireland ended Wales’ hopes by winning 1-0 in Cardiff 11 months ago. James McClean grabbed the only goal on that occasion and the
Stoke City man is 12/1 to score the first goal this time as well.
The match in Dublin was a goalless draw so goals look set to be at a premium again on Thursday.
Ukraine to draw 1-1 with Czech Republic @ 19/4
Czech Republic face Ukraine in another match between two sides that failed to qualify for Russia.
Since losing their World Cup play-off to Croatia, Ukraine have been in good form though and are unbeaten in their last five matches, a run which includes victories against Slovakia, Japan and Albania.
West Ham United’s Andriy Yarmolenko is 6/1 to score the first goal in Thursday’s match.
Czech football is in the doldrums and they have failed to qualify for the last three World Cups.
A defeat to Northern Ireland 12 months ago did little to help their chances of qualifying for Russia and they were hammered 4-0 by Australia in a June friendly.
Turkey to beat Russia @ 6/5
Russian football supporters can probably still not believe how their side managed to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup that they are widely regarded to have hosted superbly.
It could be a case of after The Lord Mayor’s Show though as the Turks are no pushovers and drew 1-1 with Russia in a pre-World Cup friendly.
Mircea Lucescu’s team are unbeaten in their last five games and could bring Russia back down to earth in Trabzon on Friday.
Albania and Israel meet again after being in the same World Cup qualifying group. Albania finished one point above Friday’s opponents, who will be managed by Andreas Herzog for the first time.
Israel won 3-0 in Elbasan in November 2016 only for Albania to triumph by the same scoreline in Haifa seven months later.
This game is a difficult one to call but an Albania win and both teams to score is a worthwhile bet at 4/1.
Norway have won all nine of their previous encounters with Cyprus and can make it 10 by emerging victorious in Oslo by one goal at 41/20, while Slovenia can make home advantage count by getting the better of Bulgaria in Ljubljana.
Kosovo to beat Azerbaijan @ 3/1
Kosovo may have failed to win any of their World Cup qualifiers but they have enjoyed some fine victories in recent friendlies, notably a 3-0 success against Albania and 4-3 triumph against Latvia.
They have the ability to cause a surprise in Baku against Azerbaijan.
Serbia were a little unfortunate not to qualify from their group in Russia and in Aleksandar Mitrovic have a striker in form. The Fulham forward is 27/10 to score the first goal in Lithuania as Mladen Krstajic’s team attempt to get their Nations Cup campaign off to a winning start.
Romania face a Montenegro team they know well as they played each other in World Cup qualifying. Montenegro won 1-0 in Podgorica 12 months ago after a 1-1 draw in Romania.
It promises to another tight affair this time with the draw available at 21/10.
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