UEFA Nations League: Last chance to show mettle before the World Cup

Ahead of the World Cup kicking off in less than three months, England and Wales have two more fixtures to show the opposition what they are made of.

We preview the key action from the Home Nation’s next round of Nations League fixtures below.

Scotland v Ukraine

Only just missing out on a trip to Qatar this winter, Scotland and Ukraine will take positives knowing they were within touching distance of a historic appearance at the FIFA .

The two sides face off for the second time this year, and after a 3-1 win to Ukraine in the last fixture, it could be that Scotland are motivated to gain their revenge.

Their recent development as footballing sides – Ukraine drawing to France in World Cup qualification and Scotland drawing to England at the 2020 Euros – sets this up to be an exciting tie. At evens, for both teams to score, this could also be a hard one to predict.

Playing at home, Scotland are the favourites at 8/5, with Ukraine only slight underdogs at 9/5, despite beating Scotland in the World Cup qualifiers only months ago. Steve Clarke’s side, who have progressed massively in recent years, are 8/1 to score three, and 7/2 to score in both halves.

With the tie likely to be close, a 1-1 draw is the most likely outcome at 24/5. However, Scotland are only 13/8 to keep a clean sheet, so could have the advantage going into this one.

Belgium v Wales

A massive game for two sides headed for Qatar in only a few months, and both will be eager to highlight their prowess and strength ahead of their opening fixtures.

Belgium have developed a golden generation of players, most who play in the best sides in Europe, but have largely failed to live up to their high FIFA world rankings in recent competitions. Upon reaching the final rounds at major tournaments, they have fallen short, finishing third at the World Cup in 2018 and exiting at the quarter-finals at Euro 2020 and 2016.

Wales have continued to prove that they are capable of punching above their weight and periodically surprise big footballing nations with impressive displays of resilience, fight and character.

The Welsh are the 15/2 underdogs here, though some punters will certainly fancy them to eke out a draw at 7/2. Despite Belgium’s 7/20 favourite odds, it could be a closer game than anticipated, with Wales’s best team in years sure to be aiming to go into their first World Cup since 1958 on a high.

Gareth Bale is the favourite to score for the away side at 5/2 and he is likely to be their main threat throughout the match. The Los Angeles FC man to register two shots, alongside Daniel James to have one shot on target, is available at 14/1.

Belgium star Kevin De Bruyne is 17/10 to score at any time. A good performance from KDB could be enough to tip the game’s momentum in Belgium’s favour, and if he turns up in good form, the goals could flow.  At 9/2 to score four or more, Belgium undoubtedly have the ability for a rout.

Italy v England

After beating England to win the Euros in July 2021, Italy suffered a monumental fall from grace and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the second time in a row, only managing victories in four of their next fourteen games.

England took two losses from Hungary, including an embarrassing 4-0 home defeat, and drew to both Italy and Germany at the beginning of their Nations League campaign, failing to rediscover the excellent defensive form they displayed throughout the Euros and during World Cup qualifying.

The Three Lions, however, are the slight favourites in this tie at 6/4 while the champions of Europe come in at 9/5 to claim a victory, with the game at 21/10 to end in a draw.

With England’s two main hitmen from the Euros, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, in good form so far this season, it seems both players to have over three shots on target combined at 23/10 is a good bet. They are 11/8 and 14/5 respectively to score in the tie at any time.

17/20 for both teams to score could also be worth backing, with England’s defence proving to be one of their weaknesses over the past year.

After a poor last few outings in the Nations League, many are predicting more of the same, with the incredible spirit shown by Gareth Southgate’s side at the last two major tournaments showing signs of dwindling. If this proves to be the case, it might be a tough day for England.

Epic Odds sees England at evens to score a goal, something they will have to do a lot of in Qatar.

Tag: Football News