Here’s the first set UEFA Nations League tips for week 1 – and what a week it will be. It’s a fresh start and a fresh new international competition. UEFA has finally met the pleas of both national federations and fans across Europe to make this time of the year more interesting for our national teams. As everyone knows, friendly matches are actually rather pointless and can become rather boring!
Now it’s up to national federations to show how seriously they will they take this competition; the prize of securing a place for the upcoming Euro tournament is not something that one should throw away easily. In the end, contrary to friendlies, these matches will also count towards the FIFA and UEFA ranking.
Theoretically, trying to get some money out of this is going to be a bit more difficult. Because of the competition structure, every team will be facing opponents of the same or similar quality, so small odds and direct favourites will be less likely.
ITALY – POLAND
This UEFA Nations League battle should be fierce… in just a few words, this will be a razor-sharp duel. Both teams are eager to do their best in order to recover wounds of recent past.
Italy, as a four-time World Cup winner, has had a nightmare summer as they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in fifty years. For Italians, this was a national tragedy and they just need to get their national team back on track. Whether this young, reconstructed team, led by former Manchester City and Zenit boss Roberto Mancini will make it, we are about to see in this match against Poland.
As for the Poles, they did manage to qualify for the World Cup but were probably feeling that they shouldn’t have after the group stage had finished. In the first two matches, Poland showed absolutely nothing of what was expected from them; it was only in the third match, against Japan, that they made a slight impression of a first-class European team. We guess that the Poles are also in the need of good results in order to make Russia just a bad memory. So what do we expect to see on Friday, September 7th?
A Must Win Draw
Italy must win and will put all their defensive calculations on side. In a group with Portugal and Poland, they just have to beat Poles if they plan to reach the top spot. Not to mention that losing will throw them into the agony of relegation! The good news for Italians is that they are playing their first game at their home venue, the famous Renatto Dall’Ara Stadium in Bologna, where they are expected to have huge support. Furthermore, Italy has not lost one of its 9 previous matches on home soil (W4, D5); what’s even better for them is that they have never lost against Poland in Italy. For Italy, this match is not about the quality of players they have, but just a big MUST WIN!
On the other side, even though aware of its poor statistics, the Polish team is not coming just to see the beauty of Bologna. Led by a new coach and former national team captain, Jerzy Brzeczek, the Poles will show no fear, especially because some of their key players such as Arkadiusz Milik and Piotr Zleinski are quite familiar with Italian football. Finally, Robert Lewandowski seems to have overcome the lethargy of the World Cup and is back to being a goal-scoring machine.
The first of our first UEFA Nations League tips? Go for more than 2.5 goals on this one… 888sport offer great odds of 11/8 for this result. Italy is not as strong as it was before and the Poles are known to be the team that scores a few more than they concede (28-14 during the WC qualifying campaign).
TURKEY – RUSSIA
This will actually be the first competitive match between these two countries. In four previous friendlies, Russia has won twice and two matches ended up in a draw (last two).
The Turks are fierce hosts and the venue in Trabzon will definitely be as hot as hell. Being another team that was utterly disappointed with not qualifying for the World Cup, the Turks are eager to make a fresh start with a win. They seem to have the team for it with high-quality Serie A midfielders Cengiz Under and Hakan Chalhanoglu and decent attackers Enes Unal and Cenk Tosun, who has been on good form in Everton. However, as good as they are at scoring goals, the Turks are equally capable of conceding them. Their last ten matches saw 29 goals with a goal difference of -3. What’s more interesting is that the Turks are scoring as well as conceding against both stronger and weaker opponents.
Russian Football Has Never Been Better
Contrary to their opponents, Russians had the summer of their dreams! No one expected the Russians to go as far as the quarter-finals on the World Cup. Plus, that loss against Croatia was a struck of bad luck. The Russians showed everyone that they are a much better team than their Transfermarket stats are showing; it is a strong and organised team. The question stands as to whether the team can repeat its good form against the Turks. The Russians are known as a team that gets off to a good start in qualifications but are also known to concede in almost every game. They only have one clean sheet in the last 15 games. It’s hard to believe that they are going to have one against Turkey.
In a match between teams of equal strength, domestic support might be decisive. Let’s make this betting preview with a slight advantage for Turkey. So, the second of our UEFA Nations League tips is a win for hosts, plus goals on both sides. Get great odds of 19/5 at Ladbrokes.
ENGLAND – SPAIN
Hardly the new Trafalgar, but surely an interesting match to see as the pressure is high in the group with World Cup finalists Croatia. Every match counts here, not so much because of the top prize, but as relegation to League B would be a great failure for any team. The last competitive match between these two teams took place in Euro 96, which ended with victory for England. Since then they have played 7 friendly games. England won two, Spain four.
The Three Lions are entering the competition on the wings of their greatest World Cup result since 1990 and it seems that they will take it seriously. Gareth Southgate has called his biggest stars for the Spanish encounter. With Kane, Lingard, Rashford, Alli, Loftus-Cheek, Maguire, Stones and co., England definitely has the material to confront any major football power. Their form also speaks in favour of their chances, especially when it comes to playing at Wembley. England has not lost a single game at its home venue for two and a half years. They even won 10 of these 14 matches to top teams such as Germany. Even Brazil and Spain were not able to grab a victory in England in those games in which England was the better team.
The Spaniards are definitely disappointed with their World Cup performance, which they described as a 10-year step back. UEFA Nations League will be a fresh start for them and as always their fans have high expectations. After the World Cup coach controversy, Spain has appointed Luis Enrique as its new manager and the ex-Barcelona man will surely know how to meet its needs. Some of the key players from the past are missing; Diego Costa, Pique, Iniesta and David Silva have retired and will be replaced in this new era, by the likes of Morata, Isco, Asensio and Ceballos. Even though the players are younger and less experienced, Spain will still be the favourite in each game they play. Once again, this is a fresh start for Spain so all statistics are put aside.
Taking all into account, it seems that England has the better chance to win this match. They have the Wembley advantage and experience on their side and we believe this will prevail. If you want the third of our UEFA Nations League betting tips, go for England win and if you want to earn more try with 2-1 correct score which has odds of 19/2 at Unibet.
N.IRELAND – BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Even though everyone was excited at the prospect of League A matches, it is in Leagues B and C where we will see some fight-to-the-end matches. Prospects of promotion and relegation will have a great impact on these matches, so all teams will enter the competition with their best squads at hand. This would be a perfect announcement for the League B Group 3, where Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Northern Ireland will fight for the top rankings.
Northern Ireland is a potential candidate for relegation to League C, but it is far from certain and they will put up a fight. They have managed to retain Michael O’Neill after the World Cup Play-Offs as well as most of the rest of the team that won the play-off spot. However, O’Neill will have to do his best to awaken his team from the poor form of the last five matches (W1, D2, L2), which is slightly better when they play at home (W3, L2).
A Low Scoring Match?
Bosnia & Herzegovina has a better team with stars like Pjanić and Džeko in its squad. Its new coach, Robert Prosinečki, has admirable experience as a player and knows what it’s like to play in tough matches. Bosnia & Herzegovina will surely take the Nations League as a chance to secure a spot for Euro 2020 and will take this match as seriously as it can. The team is in good form since Prosinečki took over – losing just one time in its last six matches (W2, D4, L1), which sounds even better taking into account that five of these matches were played away from home.
The game will surely be a tough one for both sides, so don’t expect to see many goals at Windsor Park. The last of our UEFA Nations League betting tips for week one is for less than 1.5 goals in this match, with odds of 6/5 at Bet-at-Home. High odds of 7/4 at Unibet for Bosnia to win also caught our eye and you might as well try with this.