After the drama of the European Championship qualifiers, it’s back to the …. mild excitement? of the Nations League.
With two group games still to go there are promotion and relegation issues to be resolved, and we preview all of today’s action and offer free betting advice.
Belgium v England, 7.45pm, UEFA Nations League Group A
England drew an eight-goal thriller with Belgium at the 1954 World Cup finals, which was the free scoring exception which proved a rule! Since then the results between the two nations have been (England’s score first) 2-1, 0-2, 0-1, 1-0, 2-1, 1-0 and 1-1.
Today’s top tips
Belgium v England: Belgium to win 2-1 8/1
Wales v Ireland: Wales to win to nil 17/10
Austria v Northern Ireland: Austria to win to nil 3/4
That’s five out of seven outcomes Under 2.5 goals.
Before the midweek friendly with Switzerland two of Belgium’s last five matches produced under 2.5 goals. while three of England’s last five before the midweek friendly against Ireland were also under that mark.
But with key players like Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Thibaut Courtois all fit and available for the Belgians we’re edging towards the home team taking advantage for last month’s narrow Wembley defeat.
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Belgium have won their last two matches 2-1, against Denmark and Switzerland, after succumbing at Wembley by the same scoreline – and 2-1 to Belgium is a huge and appealing 8/1 price with thepools.com .
Austria v Northern Ireland, 7.45pm, UEFA Nations League Group B1
Northern Ireland endured a draining extra-time on Thursday – and the deflation of their European Championship dream cruelly ending.
Austria played a day earlier, against Luxembourg, in a routine 3-0 friendly match stroll.
So 3/10 for the home side to extend their winning run in the Nations League to three games looks justified.
Austria are on the brink of promotion to League A, Northern Ireland almost certain to be relegated to League C, so even with Marko Arnautovic unlikely to arrive in time from China to face the Green and White Army, Austria are a strong tip.
Franco Foda has a number of high-profile players to choose from.
As always, a man to keep an eye on in the home team will be Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, who is likely to be used as a left-back this time out.
Slovakia v Scotland, 2pm, UEFA Nations League Group B2
Two teams flush with success after Thursday’s Euro qualifying celebrations – and two teams also drained by emotion draining extra time periods.
Slovakia need a win to avoid Nations League relegation, a win will see Scotland promoted.
But the home side have now failed to win their last six games within 90 minutes, despite scoring the opener before the 20th minute on three occasions.
They have also won just one of their last seven home matches within 90 minutes, usually as a result of a second half collapse with ten of the 12 goals they conceded across those games coming in the second half.
Thursday’s hard-fought battle in Serbia was the fourth consecutive Scotland game to produce under 2.5 goals, and also extended Scotland’s unbeaten run to nine games. You have to go back to February 1930 to find a longer undefeated streak in Scottish history! Under 2.5 goals is 8/11 .
Ryan Christie has scored in Scotland’s last three away fixtures, twice netting the opening goal, and he’s 13/2 to do that again.
Wales v Republic of Ireland, 5pm, UEFA Nations League Group B4
Ireland full-back Matt Doherty has had enough of Ireland’s awful run – no goals in five games, no win since last November against New Zealand.
“Look, it’s disappointing, it’s a bit embarrassing,” he said.
“I feel embarrassed sometimes when I come off the pitch because we’re just losing games and not scoring goals and conceding goals, so it’s not nice.”
Alan Browne became the latest Ireland player to test positive for coronavirus following the loss in London and Stephen Kenny was already without strikers Callum Robinson and Aaron Connolly.
With David McGoldrick retired from international football and Shane Long left out due to a lack of playing time at Southampton, the four forwards named in Ireland’s squad have only two goals between them.