Football | Five Of The Best World Cup Qualifiers On Thursday & Friday

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Wahey, it's international break time. Okay, we'll pipe down. Let's be honest, we'd only look forward to this time of the year if England were enjoyable to watch. However, they aren't and we all prefer the domestic fixtures. Just a few games in and bam, here comes the international fixtures. Anyway, we've a host of them going on on Thursday and Friday and instead of just previewing them all, we've picked out five of the most intriguing fixtures across and just after transfer deadline day...

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FRANCE VS. NETHERLANDS

FRANCE 8/15  DRAW 3/1  NETHERLANDS 21/4

The French really do have a plethora of options all over the park, which has been well documented for the last couple of years. They have the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann in attack, which makes it somewhat surprising that Olivier Giroud still gets game time under Didier Deschamps, who also has the likes of Alexandre Lacazette as an option if he needs a goal. Not bad, Didier, not bad at all.

As for Holland, they still have some of the old guard with Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie still in the squad, the youngest of two of the three being 33-years-old. However, they do have young talent around them too, with the highly rated Ajax pair Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek also in the squad.

What We Sayin’?

France have won the last three meetings, including the 1-0 win in Netherlands back in October 2016. They last suffered defeat to the same opponents way back in 2008 and we’ve a feeling the French. We’re backing Kylian Mbappe to score first in a comfortable 2-0 victory for Deschamps’ men at 18/1.


 

 

DENMARK VS. POLAND

DENMARK 13/10  DRAW 23/10  POLAND 85/40

Whenever Poland play it’s simply a commentator’s nightmare. They top the group and have scored 15 times in six games, which shows how handy it is to have Robert Lewandowski as your star forward. Speaking of star forwards, on the other side, Denmark include Nicklas Bendtner in their squad, with the Rosenborg man looking to ass to his 29 international goals so far.

However, new kid on the block Kasper Dolberg is expected to start up front – with of without Bendtner as Denmark look to overtake Montenegro in second place. There’s work to do for the Danes, whilst Poland know a defeat won’t stop them topping the table by the time the weekend comes. They have won their last five qualifiers.

What We Sayin’?

The pressure is on the Danes to get something from the game, especially at home. A win will really put the pressure on the table-toppers, whilst a defeat will see them nine points off Poland. The visitors have won the last two against the same opponents, whilst BTTS has occurred in the last four meetings. A BTTS and Over 2.5 Goals at 13/10 would be our pick.


 

MALTA VS. ENGLAND

MALTA 40/1  DRAW 12/1  ENGLAND 1/20

We’ll start off my saying that if Gareth Southgate plays two holding midfield players away to Malta then he really does not have a clue what he’s doing. Is there any need for two of them? Having said that, you just know Malta will have a chance or two – it just always happens with England. It would be great to see the shackles come off for the Three Lions in Malta.

Despite the author of this blog being a lower league club supporter and a staunch Football Manager player, we’ve not heard of any Maltese players aside from Luke Gambin. Gone are the days of Michael Mifsud leading the line for his national team and Coventry City back in the day. This one should be a cricket score but we know it’s never a cricket score when England play,

What We Sayin’?

England have won all four meetings with Malta since the first meeting way back in 1971. So they’re either due a win or it’ll be another comfortable victory. We’re going with the latter, so England to win 3-0. That’s priced at 100/30.


 

LITHUANIA VS. SCOTLAND

LITHUANIA 19/5  DRAW 12/5  SCOTLAND 4/5

It’s got to that old must win time for Scotland in Group F. It’s do or die time for Gordon Strachan and his side and they’ll see this game away at Lithuania as pretty routine – but the same was said for the home clash against the same opponents, which ended up in a draw.

Scotland have only lost once to Lithuania in all competitions from the nine meetings, so history suggest they’ll nick at least a point and following a point apiece against England last time out, you’d expect the confidence to be higher than usual. The likes of Robert Snodgrass and Matt Ritchie should cause Lithuania problems but it remains to be seen if Strachan’s side can muster two consecutive strong performances.

What We Sayin’?

We’re going with another draw for this one. However, we fancy new Aston Villa loanee Snodgrass to score first at 11/2. The midfielder has a pretty decent scoring record for his country.


 

SLOVAKIA VS. SLOVENIA

SLOVAKIA EVS  DRAW 9/4  SLOVENIA 3/1

Now these two countries are always difficult to get right. England have played both over the years – probably – but on paper it’s Slovakia – definitely Slovakia – who have the better side. Not that games are won on paper, of course. Marek Hamsik has been and still is Slovakia’s star man, whilst ex-Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is likely to be captaining the side at the heard of defence. Former Manchester City and Rangers winger Vladimir Weiss is also expected to start on the left.

For visitors Slovenia, Bayer Leverkusen man Kevin Kampl is the one to watch, whilst in Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak, they have a genuine world class stopper. Surprisingly, these two sides have only ever met on six occasions – the first of which came in 1993.

What We Sayin’?

Slovenia have won the last three meetings, ironically every one of that trio of wins has come in World Cup competition. They are both chasing down England at the top of Group F but, with home advantage, we’re just about plumping with a 2-1 Slovakia win at 8/1.


 

 

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