Belgium v the Netherlands
The first of out international fixtures tips is a very exciting pairing. There’s a glamorous friendly on Tuesday evening with Belgium v Netherlands at the King Baudouin Stadium, live on Sky Sports from 7.45pm. No points or prizes at stake here. However, a meeting of two of world football’s superpowers ensures those tuning in will have a match well worth watching. Neither side will be willing to back down or take things easy. Belgium are eager to rediscover the form that served them so well at the World Cup in Russia this summer; meanwhile, Holland has an uphill slog ahead if they are ever to rediscover past glories.
Roberto Martinez’s side – currently ranked the best team in the world by FIFA – recorded a comfortable win over Iceland last month. This completed the hat-trick since being knocked out by France in the semi-final of the World Cup. Following that painful reverse, The Red Devils beat England 2-0 to finish third before dishing out a similar punishment to Scotland, waltzing to a 4-0 at Hampden Park on a night where 8-0 wouldn’t have flattered them.
Goals from Hazard and Lukaku (twice) put Iceland to the sword with the Nations League Group A2 fixture wrapped up inside 30 minutes. They boast a trio of wins on the bounce in their last three starts, nine goals scored and none conceded. It’s little wonder fans are raving about the progressive Belgians with experts making it only a matter of time before they win a major competition. There’s confidence in the ranks, no big egos in the dressing room to speak of and everyone connected seems to be enjoying their football at the minute. It would take a brave, possibly foolish, punter to oppose them in this shape.
Oranje have a point to prove
Holland has dipped to 17 in the world rankings as their wait for a return to major competition continues. 1988 European champions and three-time World Cup runners up – 1974, 1978 and 2010 – Netherlands followers have been starved of success in recent years. That’s a direct result of their inability to put together an extended run of form.
A 2-1 defeat to France at the Stade de France in the Nations League was Holland’s second defeat in six; that snippet of form made up of a pair of wins and two draws. Ronald Koeman’s side left Paris empty-handed but they gave a good account of themselves on the night, beaten by the odd goal in three. Mbappe opened the scoring on 14 minutes, but that lead was cut out by Babel on 67. The home support looked slightly worried, but they didn’t have long to wait before the match swung back in their favour. Chelsea striker Giroud ended his goal drought with the winner.
Holland leads the head-to-head stats with Belgium on the approach to what will be the 22nd renewal of this fixture. There’s little in it at present, however, the Netherlands holding eight wins against the six of Belgium with seven draws. The teams couldn’t be separated last time, playing out a 1-1 friendly back in November 2016, Klaassen’s first-half penalty matched by Carrasco late in the day.
Get set for goals
Sticking with the stats, you’ve got to fancy goals in this fixture. The rivals played out a jaw-dropping 5-5 finish in 1999 and neutrals would certainly love a repeat performance in this one. That 10-goal match is part of five from the last six that has seen both clubs find the net at least once. In that six-game period, we’ve enjoyed 25 goals; both teams to score again is worth a place in your accumulators at 8/11 – top price 888Sport.
Looking at the match betting prices, Belgium has been chalked up as favourites – no real surprises there – with backers having to make do with Coral’s 4/7. That goes against the 4/1 of Holland while a draw will be difficult for followers of the trends to ignore. Three of the five most recent Belgium and Holland ties have finished all-square and another is 17/5 when betting at 888Sport.
Sweden – Slovakia
Here’s another punters can follow live on Sky Sports from 7.45pm. Sweden rolls out the red carpet for Slovakia at the Friends Arena. The Blue-Yellow won back-to-back matches against Mexico and Switzerland, both without losing a goal at the World Cup. However, they were then dumped out by England at the quarter-final stage, beaten 2-0.
They suffered a similar fate when beaten 2-0 by Austria as they returned to friendly matches. The hat-trick was completed when Janne Andersson’s men ended losers in a five-goal thriller with Turkey in the Nations League in September. Thelin and Claesson were on target for the Swedes; However, it proved to be no match for goals from Calhanoglu and an Akbaba double on 88 and 92 minutes. From 2-0 up to 3-2 down before they knew it.
Slovakia seeking consistency
Slovakia will be aiming to take full advantage of their host’s poor form. However, the visitors don’t have a lot to shout about themselves in that respect. Defeat to Ukraine in the Nations League moves their tally to three wins, two defeats and a draw; each of those losses come in their last three games. Wins over Norway, UAE and Denmark, as well as a draw with Holland, shouldn’t be ignored, but defeats to Morocco and Ukraine were avoidable.
The most alarming fact when studying Slovakia’s form is that they seem to struggle away from home. Each of their wins in that six-game period came in front of their own fans and both defeats were on the road. They are away from home again here, of course, and punters should keep that in mind when planning their approach. This tie promises to be a tight affair, there’s little doubt about that.
Falcons have never scored against Sweden
Interestingly, Slovakia has never beaten Sweden in four previous attempts; the head-to-head numbers reading two wins for the home side and a couple of draws. Add to that the fact The Falcons have never even managed to score a goal vs Sweden and it becomes clear who you should back in this match. Sweden hammered their opponents 6-0 when the rivals last went toe-to-toe, back in January of last year.
We should, therefore, keep it simple and support the home win in your betting tips and predictions. Sweden has been priced up at 19/20 – top price 888sport. You can back them to win to nil again at 19/10 (Coral). That makes more sense than the away day, yours at 7/2 (Bet365). The draw goes 11/5 with the same firm.
Denmark – Austria
Follow this friendly match on Tuesday from 7.45pm as the Sky Sports cameras set-up at MCH Arena. These sides have met only once before in recorded competitive history. Then it was Austria who came out on top, nicking a 2-1 win back in 2010 thanks to goals from Schimer and Wallner. Bendtner struck a reply in what was an even contest. However, in the end, the right side got the result they were after.
We expect Denmark to improve, but only slightly. They picked up draws against Australia, France and Croatia at the World Cup and kept a clean-sheet when beating Wales in the Nations League recently. Both sides would see a level finish as a useful result and that’s our best bet.
Back the draw at 23/10 through William Hill or push your luck a bit further and take both teams to score in a draw at 18/5 (888sport). Those preferring to take sides can have Denmark 5/4 or Austria 12/5, both at Ladbrokes.