After failing to qualify for the World Cup, Italy turned to Roberto Mancini to revive their fortunes but they still lack quality in many areas of the pitch and may struggle to beat Euro 2016 winners Portugal in the latest round of Nations League fixtures.
Portugal need a point to make the finals and Fernando Santos’ side should get it against an Azzurri outfit that have only scored two goals in their three Group A3 fixtures to date.
Italy lack a regular goalscorer – their last 12 goals have been scored by 12 different players – and they have failed to win any of their last five matches at home.
Mancini’s team did manage to win 1-0 in Poland in their last fixture but lost by the same scoreline to Portugal in September. A low-scoring match looks guaranteed and under 1.5 goals is available at 33/20.
World Cup winners France face a revitalised Netherlands team in Group A1 needing just a draw to reach the finals.
Les Bleus are unbeaten in their last 15 matches and beat the Dutch 2-1 on home soil two months ago. A narrow 1-0 victory for Didier Deschamps’ team, available at 33/4, would end the Netherlands’ recent revival following their failure to qualify for Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018.
In Group A2 Belgium should have little difficulty beating an Iceland side that have conceded 11 goals in their three matches so far and have already been relegated. Roberto Martinez’s side eased to a 3-0 victory in Reykjavik in September.
Spain need a victory in Zagreb against Croatia to top Group A4 and it will be interesting to see how they react to their shock 3-2 home loss to England just over four weeks ago.
Spain thrashed the Croats 6-0 at home but may struggle to complete the double over the beaten World Cup finalists, who have drawn with Portugal and England since their excellent performances in Russia.
Ukraine have dominated Group B1, winning their three fixtures and, although they have all been by one-goal margins, have qualified for the finals with a game to spare.
They held Italy to a 1-1 draw in an October friendly and appear to be very well-organised defensively so can keep a clean sheet (39/20) against Slovakia.
In Group B2 Turkey and Sweden have struggled to cope with Russia, who have continued the momentum they picked up at the World Cup in the summer.
Sweden have struggled badly since their run to the quarter-finals in Russia and were beaten 3-2 by Turkey in September. There could be plenty of goals in the return in fixture in Konya with over 3.5 goals in the match good value at 16/5.
Bosnia-Herzegovina are unbeaten in eight matches and need just a point from their game in Austria to seal promotion from Group B3. The Bosnians beat Austria 1-0 in September but a draw looks the most likely outcome in Vienna, available at 47/20.
Friday’s match in Group B4 between Wales and Denmark looks set to be crucial with both teams still in with a chance of clinching promotion.
Christian Eriksen has been in inspirational form for his country recently, scoring 15 times in his last 20 international appearances while the Danes have kept clean sheets in their first two Nations League fixtures.
A draw would suit Denmark better as that would give them the opportunity to take top spot by beating group whipping boys Republic of Ireland in their final fixture on Monday.
Scotland beat Albania 2-0 on home soil but may find it harder to emerge victorious in Shkoder as the battle to top Group C1 intensifies.
Alex McLeish’s team slumped to a disappointing 2-1 loss to Israel last month before being beaten 3-1 in a friendly by Portugal. The Scots lack quality in all areas of the pitch at present and may struggle to contain an Albania side that are difficult to beat at home.
Finland have kept four clean sheets and won their first four matches in Group C2 but that perfect record could come to an end in Athens when they take on Greece.
The Finns only need a point to seal promotion but may have to wait until their game in Hungary on Sunday to confirm top spot as Greece can edge Thursday’s match.
Hungary cannot be promoted but they can condemn Estonia to relegation by beating Martin Reim’s team 2-0 at 9/2.
In Group C4 Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic can put his Premier League side’s poor form to one side by scoring the first goal in the game between Serbia and Montenegro at 51/20 while Romania could keep a clean sheet against Lithuania at 20/43.
Georgia have run away with Group D1, winning their four games without conceding a goal, and can brush Andorra aside 3-0 at 27/4, while Latvia are tipped to draw their game against Kazakhstan at 27/10.
The Group D2 clash between Luxembourg and Belarus is set to be a tight affair. Belarus are unbeaten and are yet to concede a goal, while Luxembourg are top after winning three of their four matches. A 1-0 Luxembourg victory is priced at 6/1.
Moldova should beat San Marino while Kosovo can stay at the top of a very competitive Group D3 by winning from behind in Malta at 21/4.
Finally FYR Macedonia to win from behind against Liechtenstein is 21/4.
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