England v Hungary
Hungary were of course seen as holding the remotest of chances in League A after being paired with Italy, Germany and England, but they’ve more than held their own so far with four points already on the board. However, they did lose their only away game so far, in Italy, and it would be a real surprise if they could continue going from strength to strength.
England are starting to face questions as they’re yet to score from open play during this current set of internationals, with Harry Kane’s late penalty against Germany the only goal so far. Still, although Gareth Southgate is unlikely to cave into demands to ditch the double pivot in midfield and play a more attacking brand of football, it’s not as though his team should be struggling to create chances with the players at his disposal.
Aside from the reinforcements Southgate can call upon, his England side have still won 13 of 17 unbeaten home games since November 2020 over 90 minutes, whilst also registering clean sheets on 13 occasions. Hungary were actually one of the teams to nick a goal as they drew with England in World Cup qualification, though the reverse fixture was a 4-0 hammering and England should revert to winning ways here. However, the win to nil holds more appeal than backing the Three Lions in other markets, with that lack of creative spark at present a slight concern.
England Win To Nil
Germany v Italy
Italy may have missed out on the World Cup during the last international break and were embarrassed 3-0 by Argentina at the start of this month, but they have recovered to top their Nations League group after three rounds of action. They haven’t exceeded expectations though, with their standing ultimately influenced more by the manner in which Germany and England have unexpectedly dropped points against Hungary.
Up against elite sides Argentina, Belgium, England, Germany, Netherlands or Spain, the Italians are a very even W2-D5-L2 over 90 minutes going back to October 2020. Both teams scored in seven of these nine matches, although these weren’t the highest-scoring games as four of them finished 1-1, while none of them saw more than three goals.
Another stalemate would hardly come as a surprise here. Germany remain unbeaten under Hansi Flick, winning their first nine games under the former Bayern boss, though the standard of opposition was poor and they’ve since drawn four on the trot – all by 1-1 scorelines. Aside from Hungary, who they would have expected to beat, the clashes with other top sides Netherlands, Italy and England would suggest a similar outcome here.
Netherlands v Wales
The main priority for Wales this month was always going to be World Cup qualification, but they’ll be a tad disappointed with their start to the Nations League.
A lead was squandered in the final 20 minutes in Poland, turning to a 2-1 defeat, while a late equalizer against the Netherlands was swiftly stubbed out by a concession just a minute later. They did manage to score late against Belgium as well, this time holding on for a point, but although there’s certainly been no embarrassment, they need to start picking up points fast if they don’t want to drop back down into League B.
The Netherlands are certainly a team on the up and have lost just once in 20 appearances now (W14-D5-L1). However, despite a plethora of excellent centre-back options that includes Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake, they’re not actually the best at keeping clean sheets. In fact, both teams have scored in six of their last seven games, with Montenegro, Denmark and Poland all putting two goals past them.
Wales’ success over recent years has ultimately been built upon a solid defensive effort and relying upon Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey for a bit of magic.
However, with the star duo now he wrong side of 30 and a new crop of players coming through, the style has evolved a little under Robert Page. The Dragons aren’t involved in quite as many low-scoring affairs as they used to be, with both teams scoring in seven of their last eight matches, including two clashes with Belgium and one with their opponents here, so they’ll take confidence that they can find the net once again.
Both Teams To Score (Yes)
Poland v Belgium
Poland hold a reasonably impressive W7-D3-L2 record since their disastrous Euro 2020 showing, where group stage defeats to Slovakia and Sweden saw them bow out early. However, it’s worth noting that five of those victories were picked up over Albania, Andorra or San Marino, while they were recently tanked 6-1 by Belgium in the reverse fixture.
Poland’s defensive record is actually pretty bleak in recent times, with just three clean sheets from 18 appearances, as those came against San Marino, Albania and a Sweden side that struggle for goals in general and are in a particularly horrendous vein of form at present. Even San Marino and Albania scored a goal each in the reverse fixtures, so it’s hard to see Belgium failing to convert chances here.
Of course, at the other end, any team featuring Robert Lewandowski will carry a threat and he’s by no means their only source of a goal. He didn’t even make the bench as he was rested in the 2-2 draw with the Netherlands last time out, but he should be back in the line-up here.
Both teams have scored in 15 of Poland’s last 18 matches, including five of the last six, and that appears a likely outcome once again. Belgium’s defence isn’t quite so formidable with key players having retired or getting near that stage, and they’ve also seen both teams score in eight of nine appearances as the exception saw them shut out Burkina Faso.
Both Teams To Score (Yes)
Armenia v Scotland
Scotland are seeking to get over a shocking 3-0 defat away to Ireland, a result that leaves them with just a single victory from their past five outings now.
However, that was against their opponents here and although this time they’ll be away from home, they should get their Nations League campaign back on track.
Armenia have won just twice in 14 appearances (W2-D4-L8), as both victories were narrow 1-0 successes over Montenegro and Ireland. In fact, they’ve scored just three goals across their past eight matches, losing six of these, with this spell seeing them tanked by the likes of North Macedonia (5-0), Germany (4-1), Norway (9-0) and Ukraine (3-0).
Despite a downturn in recent results, Scotland are still a solid W7-D2-L2 across their past 11 outings. They’ve kept clean sheets in 10 of their past 11 victories, and given Armenia’s poor output in the final third, another would appear likely here. The host’s terrible defensive record might suggest a bigger win is on the cards, but Scotland (their recent nightmare against Ireland aside) are much better equipped at the back than up top. Given the likes of Che Adams and John McGinn are struggling for goals at present, the win to nil appears a more solid proposition.
Scotland Win To Nil
Ukraine v Ireland
A 3-0 win over Scotland has inevitably altered the Irish mood, but Stephen Kenny’s men can hardly afford to get carried away after one performance. They had just lost back-to-back clashes with Armenia and Ukraine, and one night of poor defending from Scotland can’t disguise the lack of attacking threat possessed by the visitors here.
Ireland may have now won five of their past nine games, but given four of these came over Azerbaijan, Qatar, Luxembourg and Lithuania, it’s hard to get too excited. Away from home in competitive games, they’ve won just three of 16 games since November 2017, against Gibraltar, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, with five of the last seven ending in defeat.
Ukraine may have missed out on the World Cup, falling to Wales at the final hurdle, but they’ve more than demonstrated how competitive they can be over the past year since their Euro 2020 exit to England. That defeat to Wales is their sole loss in 11 matches, with four wins from the last five as they’ve taken down Bosnia, Scotland, Ireland and Armenia.
Ukraine To Win
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