Belgium v Netherlands
Belgium finished top of their five-man qualifying group and easily secured a place in the World Cup finals going unbeaten in their eight games (W6-D2) and finished five points ahead of Wales who are still fighting for their place in in Qatar.
The Dutchmen also managed to finish top of their six-man group, though it wasn’t without a defeat. The Orange Army lost 4-2 to Turkey when they were away from home, but this remained their only blemish on a good record (W7-D2-L1).
Belgium were a force to be reckoned with in their home games earlier in the year, they managed to win all four games and only conceded two goals in the process whilst scoring at least three goals in every match (3-1 Wales, 3-1 Estonia, 3-0 Czech Republic and 8-0 Belarus).
On the flip side, the Orange Army struggled on the road in their World Cup qualifying group with their away record standing W2-D2-L1. Their two wins were against Gibraltar (7-0) and Latvia (1-0), notice how they only beat Latvia 1-0 despite playing one of their strongest teams with some of their best players on the field (VVD, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay and Stefan de Vrij). They drew 1-1 with Norway and 2-2 with Montenegro, so we’re inclined to side with the hosts to win and net a few in the process.
BELGIUM TO WIN AND OVER 2.5 GOALS
France v Denmark
The reigning World Champions are currently favourites to win the UEFA Nation’s League trophy, currently coming in at 4/1 (5.0) with Spain being the 2nd favourite at 6/1 (7.0). They were unbeaten in their World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) group although they didn’t have much competition considering their four opponents were Ukraine, Finland, Kazahkstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Danish had won nine in a row before they faced Scotland in the last WCQ gameweek, they had already finished top of their group and decided to play a weaker team with some new faces to give some players the experience of playing for their country. Denmark are still without their captain and most capped player in Simon Kjaer who ruptured his cruciate ligament in December of last year.
The bookies don’t seem to think that France are big favourites to win this match but we wholeheartedly disagree. Les Bleus have taken one of their strongest 23 man squads with the only notable absences being Ousmane Dembele and Paul Pogba but their star man Kylian Mbappe is in the team with a plethora of quality around him.
FRANCE TO WIN
Croatia v Austria
The Runners up and dark horses of the last world cup, Croatia, haven’t quite lived up to expectations. They were knocked out of the Euro’s in the first elimination round when they lost to Spain 5-3 on penalties. Croatia did finish top of their World Cup qualifying group (WCQ) but every big footballing nation should be topping their group because of how the groups are constructed.
Austria finished second in their WCQ group which meant they had to go to play-off in order to qualify for the coveted cup. The Austrians faced Wales in the first round but there was nothing they could do considering the two wonder goals that Gareth Bale scored and despite the game finishing 2-1 to Wales, the only time the ball went into Wales’ net was because of an own goal from Ben Davies.
Croatia are missing two quality players in Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic who both play for the two Milan clubs, Inter and AC respectively. Perisic is missing through injury however Rebic hasn’t featured since the 2020 Euro’s due to a disagreement with the manager, Zlatko Dalic.
Austria have some troubles too with Martin Hinteregger and Aleksander Dragovic both missing out, these two central defenders have 167 caps between them. Julian Baumgartlinger, who is there national captain, and Stefan Ilsanker are the only other two notable absentees from Austria (all four player combined have 312 caps).
Over the last six away games, Austria have W2-D1-L3 with their only wins being against the Faroe Islands and Moldova whilst drawing to Scotland and losing to Wales, Israel and Denmark. Croatia have won four out of their last five at home with other match being a draw.
CROATIA TO WIN
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