With the domestic season having drawn to a close, a World Cup shunted to the end of the year may have had football fans fearing the June wasteland that stood before them. But fear not! The Nations League is set to ride to the rescue.
As the football schedule is turned upside down in the coming months, only two separate windows for the third edition of the tournament are on the slate. With club league games crammed in before the mid-season break in early November, as a result, what we have in store are no less than four Nations League Matchdays beginning on Wednesday, stretching until June 14. It will be like Euro 2020 all over again, as MD1 offers up some marquee matchups.
Whilst Scotland and Ukraine face-off in their delayed World Cup playoff semi-final later on Wednesday, their final opponents, Wales, travel to Poland to open MD1 proceedings. With the Poles favourites with the bookies at 17/20 with SkyBet, the hosts have however, drawn five games since last March and lost to Hungary in their final World Cup qualifying game. With that in mind, as the Welsh Dragon makes its League A debut and with Rob Jones’ men waiting poised at the weekend, the visitors will not want to take defeat into that game. The draw at 13/5 with UniBet looks a decent flutter whilst in Poland’s last game against Sweden in their playoff final, Robert Lewandowski had 4+ SOT. To have one less here, the striker’s price is boosted to 13/2 from 7/2 with SkyBet.
Two continental derbies stand out in MD1 as Spain face Portugal in Seville on Thursday, whilst 24 hours later, Belgium host the Netherlands in a low country duel. Turning first to Iberia, Spain and Portugal last met in a pre-Euro 2020 friendly almost a year to the day, when the two produced a 0-0 draw. In the meeting before, the two shared six goals in memorable 3-3 encounter in the 2018 World Cup, where Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hattrick but their other two meetings in four have all drawn blanks. Another 0-0 whilst unlikely might be worth a look at 9s with PariMatch, SBK and BetVictor, however, even a 1-1 draw is boosted to 13/2with SkyBet, which might be the better option.
Over in Brussels, six of the last eight games between the two neighbouring northern European nations has resulted in a draw also. Here, a repeat is 13/5 with Bet365. For the Red Devils, Kevin De Bruyne’s goals toward the end of the season were a big factor in Manchester City retaining the Premier League title but here it could be his distribution that could be key against a physical and improving Dutch side. Therefore, 1+ KDB assists at 3/1 – again with SkyBet – looks very decent.
Saturday evening then sees England continue their journey in League A. First facing familiar opposition from World Cup qualifying in Hungary, the Three Lions won 4-0 on their last trip to Budapest but have defensive issues ahead of the two country’s third meeting in nine months. Conceding at Wembley against the Mighty Magyars and in two more of their last seven outings – something of a rarity for England – Hungary goals looks a good bet. A 7/5 lay with Betfair for both teams to score is a good price.
Rounding off a tasty opening MD1, Italy and Germany lock horns in Bologna on Saturday night. As the Azzurri continue to lick their wounds after failing to make Qatar, the Germans stand as a tough opponent. At the end of MD1 as this game is, few boosts are yet to be offered so it is worth keeping on eye on these nearer the time. For the outright result however, a young Die Mannschaft side could unleash the likes of Karim Adeyemi and Lukas Nmecha on the Italians and an away win at 19/10 with UniBet is attractive.