The International break has been exciting. In a sense, the UEFA Nations League has been responsible for some of the top-end fixtures. Of course, this is the exact reason it was formed in the first place. Even then, the proximity of this period to the World Cup in November means that coaches are even more meticulous in their team selection and strategy.
The Netherlands are through to the semifinals of the Nations League which will be hosted on their soil. Croatia and Italy have also done enough, usurping their respective contenders in the final match. And yet, France, England and Germany have struggled from start to finish.
The last two finalists will come from tonight’s matches. Similarly, some cracking fixtures featuring some of the biggest sides in the world will take place across different continents.
For many punters, this is an opportunity to earn big on their stakes. Some goal/goal results look sure to come through in these matches.
Here are four of them:
Portugal vs Spain
The winners of the inaugural edition of the Nations League will host Spain for a spot in the semifinals of the Nations League.
Last weekend, Fernando Santos’ men climbed above La Roja after defeating the Czech Republic 4-0. Luis Enrique’s team lost at home to Switzerland 2-1.
The Selecao have the best defence in League A having conceded just two goals in five matches. However, they have drawn the last four matches against this opponent.
As things stand, Portugal will progress with a draw. Hence, the likely strategy for Santos will be to sit deep and soak up the pressure against a Spanish side that will dominate possession by nature. Diogo Dalot was influential against the Czech Republic. He might yet start. The vision and quick-passing of Bruno Fernandes will be key in finding Cristiano Ronaldo.
Enrique has nothing to lose at this point. He is set to take more risks in attack and will be keen on his side scoring early. Alvaro Morata might be given a starting berth having failed to start against Switzerland. They will need to be incisive in the final third.
Portugal might yet exploit the spaces in Spain’s defence as they commit more players in attack. In effect, a goal/goal option seems the safest for punters interested in this fixture.
Ukraine vs Scotland
Promotion to League A of the Nations League is at stake in this fixture. A draw is enough for Scotland. However, Ukraine will fancy its chances of winning against a familiar side, albeit at a makeshift ground in Poland.
The hosts come into this encounter on the back of a 5-0 win against Armenia. They defeated Scotland in June in the World Cup playoffs, although in eventual futility. But they also lost in the rescheduled match 3-0 last Wednesday.
It is logical to expect that they will be desperate to put the Tartan Army to the sword in this all-or-nothing encounter. Al Ain and former West Ham forward, Andriy Yarmolenko will have his work cut out.
Scotland, while having the upper hand, will be jaded from two tough matches in three days. Steve Clarke will need to rotate his squad to cater for exhaustion.
Manchester United’s Scott Mctominay is suspended for this match. Kieran Tierney has also withdrawn from the squad.
Both teams will be optimistic about getting the desired result. This, in effect, is set for an end-to-end affair.
Norway vs Serbia
This is an all-to-play-for encounter with promotion to League A on the cards. While both sides have the same number of points, Norway edges this based on head-to-head.
The hosts have been on an upward trajectory, as they seek a second promotion in the last three years. They slumped to a 2-1 loss against Slovenia last weekend.
Erling Haaland will go head-to-head against one of the Premier League’s most in-form forwards, Aleksandar Mitrovic. Both players found the target in their respective matches last week.
Stale Solbakken will be counting on Arsenal captain, Martin Odegaard to find Haaland with the right service. The Manchester City forward has scored 21 international goals in 22 matches.
Dejan Stojkovic’s men are no slouches themselves. They finished ahead of Portugal in the World Cup qualifiers and have lost just once in this edition of the Nations League.
It is difficult to look beyond a goal/goal result against these progressive sides.
Algeria vs Nigeria
Both sides will be playing for pride in this encounter having missed out on the World Cup. And yet, this is still one of the biggest fixtures of any kind in the continent.
Algeria, since an abysmal performance at the Nation’s Cup and losing to Cameroon in the playoffs for Qatar, has garnered some impressive results.
The last time both teams met was in the semifinals of the 2019 Nations Cup which saw Riyad Mahrez score a last-gasp freekick to win 2-1. Of course, they had dominated the proceedings.
Jose Peseiro will not be able to call on Victor Osimhen and Sadiq Umar, who are currently injured. However, Alex Iwobi has been in scintillating form and should prove influential tonight.
The quality inherent in both sides should see both sides get on the scoresheet.