Luxembourg v Faroe Islands
I’m not expecting a glut of goals from this one, but it could go a long way to deciding which teams go up, and down, from League C Group 1 in the Nations League.
The lowlanders won 1-0 in the Faroes last week and know this is a must-win if they are to keep the pressure up on group leaders Turkey, three points ahead.
It did take a late penalty from Gerson Rodrigues to separate the sides while the Islanders had two players sent off in the closing stages, both for fouls on youngster Mathias Olesen.
The islanders are winless in 11 matches on the road, losing seven of them, and have allowed 17 goals in their last five competitive away games.
They were blitzed 4-0 in Istanbul to start the group but they did show great character to come from behind and beat Lithuania in Torshavn on Saturday night and are now three points clear of the basement-boys.
They will be boosted by the fact that the Bourgers are winless in five matches on home soil and have lost the last three competitive matches without scoring.
Odmar Faero’s booking for the Faroes on Saturday means he joins Rene Joensen and Solvi Vatnhamar on the sidelines through suspension while the visitors may be forced to name a makeshift backline after Hordur Askham was forced-off through injury against Lithuania.
That tips the balance for me with Daniel Sinani set to continue in attack having looked decent on loan at Huddersfield from Norwich this season in the Championship.
His side are pretty efficient, only conceding twice against Turkey and turning three goals into six points in their games on the road against Lithuania and the Faroes. I’m back them to make it nine points in the group here.
Netherlands v Wales
The Netherlands can take a giant stride towards a return to the knockout stages of the Nations League with victory over winless Wales in Rotterdam on Tuesday night.
The hosts have seen both sides on target in the past five games, conceding seven goals in that spell but scoring 13. They are unbeaten in 14 games on home soil in all competitions, scoring in all of them, but eight of those matches have seen both sides on the scoresheet with Bosnia, Scotland and Turkey among the sides who have managed to find to net and I have a sneaky feeling Wales will join that group in De Kuip.
Wales have scored in their last four away games, netting seven goals in total and seven of their last eight games have seen neither side keep a clean sheet, the exception was the 1-0 win over Ukraine in the World Cup Qualifying Play-off in which the visitors fashioned an absolute glut of chances but could not find a way past Wayne Hennessy, who will be expecting another busy evening here.
Gareth Bale, who got three of those goals in a single game in Belarus last September, but none of the last four, is unlikely to start after playing the majority of the 1-1 draw with Belgium on Saturday while Joe Allen is set to miss out after limping off in the first half of that match in Cardiff.
Rob Page will also be without the services of Rhys Norrington-Davies who netted in the first match between the sides last week, after he picked up his second booking of the group In the last game. Brennan Johnson’s equaliser off the bench against the Belgians could be enough to earn him a place in the starting XI.
As for the Netherlands, your guess is as good as mine… Louis van Gaal, ever the trickster, made 11 changes for the previous encounter between these sides and might well do similar here.
I think the Dutch will have too much for Wales, but I can see the visitors scoring and the odds on over 2.5 goals are too good to ignore when you consider there have been five, three and four goals respectively in the last three Netherlands Nations League games and two of the three Wales games have also seen three goals.
Poland v Belgium
If anyone is to stop the Netherlands topping A4 then it has to be one of these sides.
The Poles produced a superb display in Rotterdam on Saturday night and were left with mixed emotions after having to settle for a 2-2 draw in a game which they led 2-0, though they were grateful for Memphis Depay hitting the post with a last-gasp penalty which would have completed the turnaround and all-but secured their place in the semi-finals.
Back on home soil where they overcame Wales 2-1 on matchday one, I expect Poland to gain some revenge for that 6-1 humbling in Brussels, especially if Bayern Munich’s wantaway striker and Polish golden boy Robert Lewandowski is fit to start, having broken the deadlock in that game with his 10th goal in his last dozen international appearances to reach 76 goals in total for his nation.
The Poles have won four and drawn one of their six home games since exiting the Euros in the group stage last summer, the draw coming after a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser against England.
For their part the Red Devils have slightly lost their way on their travels, failing to win any of their last five matches outside of Belgium. They have also conceded in eight of their last nine games in all competitions, the sole clean sheet coming in a friendly against Burkino Faso.
The bookies have Roberto Martinez’s side as firm favourites, though they are missing Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois through injury, they could welcome Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Eden Hazard back to their side here. The Poles will miss veteran midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak who serves a suspension after picking up his second booking.
In truth I can see goals in this one, both BTTS and over 2.5, but given their decent home record and the fact Belgium can’t replicate their home form on the road, I am going to plump for the hosts to get at least a point, particularly as 27 of Lewandowski’s international goals have come in this stadium and he’s back after missing the trip to the Netherlands.
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