The group stages of the Nations League is really at its business end and the games on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are sure to provide plenty of drama.
The star turn on Sunday comes at Wembley where England welcome Croatia in a winner takes all clash in League A Group 4.
England to win and both to score @ 11/5
These two most recently met in the semi-finals of the World Cup and it was the Croats who shone through, as their greater experience proved more valuable than England’s exuberance.
The Vatreni suffered an inevitable hangover from their 4-2 final defeat to Russia but showed their class by beating Spain 3-2 in Zagreb on Thursday.
Zlatko Dalic’s side will travel to London full of confidence but will have to make do without Ivan Rakitic who limped off against La Furia Roja.
England’s preparations may not have been as focussed as they would have liked, with Wayne Rooney’s final game taking centre stage before and during Thursday’s 3-0 friendly win over the USA.
Gareth Southgate rested a number of his stars against the States and is likely to start with a line-up similar to the one that triumphed 3-2 in Seville last month.
Despite the reverse fixture ending 0-0, expect an exciting game and some punters may even look for over 3.5 goals at 2/1.
The winner will top the pool, while the loser will be relegated and this is the perfect chance for the Three Lions to make a statement by booking their place in the next stage of this embryonic tournament.
Austria to win @ 7/5
The other game involving a side from the Home Nations is Northern Ireland’s as they clash with Austria in Belfast.
League B Group 3 is all done and dusted with Bosnia and Herzegovina guaranteed top spot and the Green and White Army bottom of the pile.
Michael O’Neill’s men were the better team in Thursday’s goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland but struggled to break the deadlock and have scored just once in the Nations League.
Das Team laboured to victory in Vienna month and more positive punters may even fancy a repeat of that 1-0 victory in Austria’s favour (23/4) at Windsor Park.
Denmark to win to zero @ 11/10
On Monday, the Republic of Ireland head to Aarhus to face winners of Nations League B Group 4, Denmark.
Despite Wales’ best efforts, the Danes have been the dominant force in this pool, winning all three of their games and in Christian Eriksen have a man on top of his form, being involved in 20 goals in his last 19 internationals.
The Republic were flat in Thursday’s stalemate against their Northern neighbours and it is tough to see where their goals are going to come from, scoring just once in three Nations League outings.
Their sole point to date came in a goalless draw against the Danes in Dublin and with the Scandinavians so secure at the back it is tough look past a home win.
It is therefore worth spying the extra value and an Eriksen goal at Anytime is tempting at 8/5 but the smart money seems to be with either the home win and the clean sheet, or even the 6/5 for Denmark to be winning at half-time.
Netherlands double chance @ 20/23
At the same time, there is a repeat of the 1974 World Cup final in Gelsenkirchen as Germany host the Netherlands.
It is fair to say the Nations League has proved a disaster for Die Mannschaft, claiming just one point from their three matches and have already been relegated.
Thursday’s 3-0 win over Russia at least saw them play with pace, an attribute they have dearly lacked over the last 18 months and that sluggishness was exposed in the Oranje’s 3-0 win in Amsterdam last month.
The Netherlands were at it again on Friday, beating France 2-0 and after missing out on the last two major tournaments, seem to have rediscovered their mojo.
Ronald Koeman’s decision to return to his country’s iconic 4-3-3 formation seems to be bringing the best out of his players.
A draw at 13/5 will be enough to see them go through top of League A Group 1 by virtue of their superior head-to-head against France and double chance on the Netherlands looks a good price.
Sweden to win @ 23/20
After reaching the last eight of the World Cup, Sweden are looking to rediscover their form and the Friends Arena in Solna must become less hospitable to visiting sides.
A defeat to Turkey in their previous home match in the Nations League put them at a severe disadvantage but on Tuesday they welcome a Russia side who have excelled in League B Group 2.
The Sbornaya are still riding a bit of a wave from their own last eight showing on home soil in the summer.
They themselves won in Turkey but an experimental team was woeful in losing 3-0 in Germany and Stanislav Cherchesov may again use this fixture to blood some of his youngsters.
The home win is a good price but neither have looked particularly sharp in defence and that outcome and both to score could also appeal at 33/10.
Finally and Scotland should have too much for Israel when the pair meet at Hampden Park.
League C Group 1 has been particularly engrossing and there is still plenty to play for heading into the final match.
The Scots beat Albania 2-0 at home in September and need to follow it up having lost 2-1 away in Haifa.
Israel have won their last three games in all competitions and could be a threat, although it is the Scots who have won three of the last four meetings between these nations.
At 300/1 to win Euro 2020, it seems as low as they can go for Scotland. Alex McLeish’s side need a performance and this seems the perfect chance to restore some of the public’s faith in the Tartan Army.
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