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29-Aug 2018 Wednesday @ 5:27 PM (112 days ago)               #1
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UEFA Nations League Guide: Format, Key Fixtures, Betting Odds & More!

The inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League is set to kick off this September and SBOBET is here to provide you with a simplified guide to the ins and outs of the new European national team competition.

UEFA and its member associations have long desired for real competitive football to replace what they deem as "meaningless" international friendlies. And after more than seven years of extensive discussions and planning, the European football governing body has created the Nations League—a humongous tournament that features a top level with promotion and relegation, and one that offers a route to the European Championships.

While it basically looks like the usual European top-flight league, it's a little bit more complicated given the groupings and the path teams can qualify for the Euros.

The UEFA Nations League can certainly cause confusion to the casual football observer; but with more than a week left before the contest kicks off, there's still plenty of time for you to familiarise yourself with all the necessary information about it.

Competition Format

Basics

  • 55 members
  • Four leagues (League A, B, C and D) with four groups each
  • League A (12 Teams); League B (12 Teams); League C (15 Teams); League C (16 Teams)
  • Home and away games
  • League A group winners move on to final four to compete for Nations League trophy
  • League B, C, D group winners are promoted
  • League A, B, C bottom finishers are relegated

All 55 member associations of UEFA are part of the tournament. They are split into four leagues—League A, B, C and D—according to their position in the UEFA National Team Coefficient Rankings.

The top 12 teams form part of League A, while nations ranked 13th to 24th are in League B. The next best 15 teams are in League C and finally, the 16 lowest-ranked teams comprise League D. All the nations will be playing in a home-and-away format.

League A is what you can say as the top division. The league is divided into four groups of three teams each, with the winner of each group progressing to the final round to contest the Nations League championship.

The final round has two semi-finals, a third-place match and the final.

League B also have four groups of three teams each, while League C has one group with three teams and three groups with four teams. League D has four groups with four teams each.

The top finishers of each group in League B, C and D will gain promotion to the leagues above them. On the other hand, the bottom teams in each group of League A, B and C will be relegated to the lower leagues.

Qualification for European Championship

Basics

  • European Championship final: 24 teams qualify (20 from the qualifying group stage, 4 from the play-off)
  • The 16 group winners from the UEFA Nations League (4 from each league) earn a spot in the European Qualifiers play-off
  • If a group winner has already qualified, it's place in the play-off will go to the next best-ranked team in the league
  • Each league has a play-off path designated. The play-off competition format features two single-leg semi-finals and one final

While the competition format is pretty straightforward, it is the rules on European qualifications where things get a little complicated. The UEFA Nations League offers a path to the Euros, with the four group winners from each league—or a total of 16 teams—earning a spot to the European Qualifiers play-offs.

The qualifying campaign for the Euros remains the same. The 55 teams will be divided into 10 groups, and the top two teams from each directly qualify to the final tournament.

Now here's where the Nations League comes in. The remaining four places in the Euros will be awarded to the play-off winners—which, as mentioned, will be contested by the 16 group winners from League A, B, C and D.

If a group winner has already qualified to the Euros, their place in the play-off round will be given to the next best-ranked team in their league and so on.

In the European qualifiers play-offs, there will be four different play-off paths for each league. According to UEFA, the league members who qualified for the play-off will play against each other in a competition that consists of two single-leg semifinals and one single-leg final.

With this format, even the lower-league teams have a chance to make it to the European Championship final.

Teams and Groups

World Cup winners France and surprise semi-finalists Croatia are both part of League A alongside world football powerhouse teams Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and England.

Interestingly, the Three Lions are in the same group as Croatia and Spain—easily the group of death of the competition. The Germans, 2014 World Cup winners, are grouped with the Frenchmen, though.

Russia and Wales headline League B, but their division is also oozing with quality with the likes of Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Denmark also vying for promotion to the top tier competition.

In League C, Slovenia are the highest-ranked nation at 25th. However, they are not the only ones capable of making the UEFA Nations League 2018 news, with the likes of Serbia, Greece and Scotland also present.

Finally in League D, the likes of Latvia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Armenia and Luxembourg are among the 16 teams that are set to fight for the right to climb up the competition ladder.

Here's the full breakdown of the groupings per league:

Key Fixtures to Watch

Well, here's the real treat for fans. While the Nations League is new, it promises plenty of exciting games that is surely way better than an international friendly.

League A is the one to watch, thanks to the format that paves the way for Europe's top teams to play against each other. However, you shouldn't sleep on League B as it has some interesting matches as well.

Here are five key fixtures in the UEFA Nations League that you should mark on your calendar:

Germany vs France

It's a battle between recent World Cup winners. Germany dropped to 14th in the FIFA rankings after their poor showing in Russia, so they will certainly look to gain some respectability when they play the new World No.1. The two will meet first at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 1 on September 7, with the return fixture slated on October 17 at Stade de France.

Croatia vs England

Here's a repeat of the recent World Cup 2018 semi-finals! England have established themselves as true contenders under Gareth Southgate, but they still have some unfinished business against the Croats who sent them packing from the grandest stage of all.

Netherlands vs Germany

The rivalry between the two nations is pretty much known all around the globe, so it's no wonder why their meeting is one of the most highly anticipated matches of the tournament. The traditional rivals will play on Matchday 3 (October 14) and Matchday 6 (November 20).

Wales vs Republic of Ireland

Both these teams have a point to prove after missing the recent World Cup and the Nations League—against the best of the best in Europe—is undoubtedly the best place for them to make their mark. They play the opener of League B on September 7 and will rematch on October 17.

Russia vs Sweden

Russia are one of the biggest surprises of the World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals before falling to Croatia via a penalty shoot-out. Sweden, like the Russians, impressed as well and defied expectations with their last eight berth. Now, they are set to test their mettle against each other in a quest to rise up from League B. Russia host the Swedes on Matchday 3 (October 12) before taking the trip to Friends Arena on November 21.

Betting Odds

While France might be easy picks to win considering their recent success, the UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds actually favour Spain to win at 4.30. Germany are second at 5.00 while Les Bleus are not too far behind at 5.00.

On the other hand, Netherlands (8.80), Iceland (8.60), Poland (4.50) and Croatia (5.80) are tipped to have the least chance of winning their groups, thus expected to be relegated to League B.

Russia and Sweden are expected to have a tight battle for the top spot in their group, with SBOBET odds giving them equal chance at 2.60.

Other League B sides Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Denmark are all favoured to be promoted to League A.

League C teams Scotland, Greece, Serbia and Norway are tipped to climb up the ladder as well, while League D contenders Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and FYR Macedonia are well poised to get out of the bottom division.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 29-Aug-2018 @ 5:27 PM


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06-Sep 2018 Thursday @ 6:58 PM (103 days ago)            #2
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UEFA Nations League Germany vs France: Road to Redemption

Germany vs France

Europe’s newest international competition kicks off this week when the World Champions take on their neighbours and biggest rivals.

It’s UEFA Nations League Germany vs France at the Allianz Arena on Thursday and what a way to raise the curtain on this new competition. Didier Deschamp’s France is on the crest of a wave, returning from Russia with the World Cup. But for Germany boss Joachim Low, this is the start of a rebuild, and the road back for his team, battered and bruised in Russia.

The FIFA World Rankings tell a tale of triumph and disaster for these two giants of the International game, with France now on top of the world while Germany plummeted to 15th. So this is Germany’s chance to remind us all they haven’t gone away.

International breaks have always been greeted by fans with ambivalence: good if your local team needs a break (Burnley), not so good if you have the momentum (Watford).

But with the new competitive edge added, these are bigger and better games now; we’ll be following the lot on SBOBET.

Talking Points

So how does the UEFA Nations League work?

International matches in Europe finally have real meaning as the inaugural tournament kicks off this week.

While there will be separate qualification groups for the European Championship and World Cups, this will be another opportunity to qualify for the big tournaments from this league as well as promotion and relegation.

The tournament features all 55 of Europe’s international teams, split into four leagues by ranking (A, B, C and D). Each league is then divided into four small groups, and France and Germany find themselves in Group A1 along with the Netherlands. The winners of each group in League A will play off for the trophy and third and fourth places in June.

The bottom club in each group will be relegated and replaced by the four winners in the League below.

So let’s get it on!

How quickly can Germany recover?

Crashing out of the World Cup at the group stages was a catastrophe for Low, his team and the nation. But they didn’t deserve any more, seemingly playing without enough energy and certainly bereft of a cutting edge.

Leaving Manchester City’s flying winger, Leroy Sane, out of the World Cup squad was mystifying, to say the least. He has since been recalled albeit a little late as his early season form for City hasn’t been the best. This could be just the lift he needs, but he’ll probably start on the bench.

Low’s team doesn’t look as imposing as it did, but it still has world-class players in Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, BVB’s Marco Reus and Sane’s team-mate Ilkay Gundogan. These could be the key to Germany’s success on Thursday as they come up against a fantastic French midfield featuring N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba.

More of the same for France…

Deschamps has made just one change to his World Cup-winning squad, bringing in keeper Benoit Costil to replace Steve Mandanda. But with skipper Hugo Lloris sidelined with injury PSG’s Alphonse Areola is set to deputise.

UEFA Nations League Germany vs France: Didier Deschamps Les Bleus versus Joachim Low's Die Mannschaft
France players celebrates and lifts the 2018 World Cup trophy after defeating Croatia in the final

France’s World Cup victory was characterised by the flair and beauty of Gallic football at its best, and there were times when it could have been even better. Antoine Griezmann and Pogba took a while to get into their stride, but the electrifying pace of Kylian M’Bappe had defences scurrying from the off.

Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard was one of the stars of Russia 2018; the 22-year-old hit the headlines with a stunning strike against Argentina and playing with confidence and great skill throughout.

History

Germany have been a force in world football since first winning the World Cup in 1954, but a sharp exit in Russia was both a shock and a humiliation after their fourth triumph in 2014.

Credit to Low, he has decided to stay on to oversee the rebuild as Germany set out on the road to redemption.

France won their second World Cup this year, and the worrying thing for Germany, along with the rest of the world, is how young Les Bleus are. They are just going to get better and better.

Deschamps’ boys already lead the head-to-heads in Germany vs France results, with four wins to two and two draws, and their recent form is much stronger. Les Bleus have won six and drawn one of the last seven, a run which took them to the top of the world, while Germany crashed out with one late win and two dreadful defeats, giving the former World champions just two wins in seven.

Betting Tip

??

Germany vs France France Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.05
September 7, 02:45 (GMT+8)
Germany have home advantage in Munich, and the Germany vs France odds give the hosts a slight edge at 2.43 to win in the Allianz Arena, while Les Bleus are at 2.82 and the draw is available at 3.15.

But France are dripping with talent and will be keen to keep Germany in their place. It could be a tight game, though, with Under 2.50 goals at 1.92 slightly shorter than Overs at 1.98, and the most likely scoreline is 1-1 at 5.40.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 06-Sep-2018 @ 6:58 PM


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06-Sep 2018 Thursday @ 7:03 PM (103 days ago)            #3
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Nations League Wales vs Ireland: A Big Battle in the British Isles!

Wales vs Republic of Ireland

The countries calling the British Isles home had a great run at the World Cup qualifiers last year, with some of them almost making it to the big dance in Russia last summer.

While it is unfortunate that they cannot participate in the world's biggest football tournament, a new tournament has now come in to provide the nations surrounding England a new opportunity to dominate in the scene.

The Nations League: Wales vs Ireland duel is an important match for both sides that want to establish their place in European football. This tournament will help both countries get recognised outside or Europe as legitimate producers of football talent.

Both nations have struggled as of late and will want to start the tournament with a bang. Both nations will be looking to restart their World Cup dreams, and this tournament is the perfect place to start.

Which side will come out victorious after they meet at Cardiff City Stadium?

Talking Points

Nations League Wales vs Ireland: Will Martin O'Neill's side be affected by their injuries?
Martin O'Neill suits up his side against Wales in UEFA Nations League

The star of this Wales team has always been Gareth Bale, and he is still the man Ryan Giggs and many SBOBET tips will count on to make a difference in this match.

The Real Madrid man has regained the trust of the Real Madrid board in the midst of Cristiano Ronaldo's surprise departure from the Santiago Bernabeu, and he was looked upon to take over the scoring and leadership responsibilities of the Portugal captain.

He hasn't disappointed for the Galacticos this season. He was stellar in Real Madrid's dismantling of Getafe, making himself felt all over the attack. While it's still early days in the football season, it's not wrong to assume that the Gareth Bale of old is back to playing dominant football. He will surely be a huge defensive assignment for Martin O'Neill.

Wales boss Ryan Giggs also knows how important Bale is in his attack and will be looking forward to starting England on the right foot. With Euro hero Hal Robson-Kanu retiring from international football and other veterans omitted from the squad, the former Manchester United star will have to look for alternatives among the youth.

One of the most exciting talents for the Dragons is young winger and former England international David Brooks. The Bournemouth winger, who was an outstanding presence during the Cherries' victory against West Ham, chose to play for Wales and is expected to become a rock for Wales in the foreseeable future.

While things are looking up for Wales, the Republic of Ireland may have a bit of a roster problem ahead of this match.

The Boys in Green are missing more than a number of key players. James McClean, Robbie Brady, James McCarthy, Shane Long, Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire are listed off the squad for different injuries, severely weakening the squad.

Declan Rice and Harry Arter are also not listed for O'Neill's squad for curious reasons. Rice, a young West Ham defender, was approached by Gareth Southgate to play for England despite representing Ireland in friendlies earlier this year. Meanwhile, Arter is reportedly at odds with assistant manager Roy Keane and decided to pull out of the squad.

However, the manager is confident that a fairly inexperienced Ireland squad can put up a good fight in Cardiff if they step up their game. While he is more than aware that international football is a whole different animal compared to the level of football many of his players have been playing, he believes that they can somehow pull off a result.

History

Can Wales satisfy Wales vs Ireland Odds and win as hosts?
Will Ryan Giggs be able to avenge their lost against Rep. of Ireland in World Cup Qualifiers?

Giggs may insist that Wales aren't looking to avenge their loss to Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers, but their 0-1 loss in their final qualification game at Cardiff was the biggest among the most recent Wales vs Ireland results as it cost them a spot that could have sent them to Russia.

I think it would be good for the Dragons to try and come to this game with a slant as the match history between the two of them aren't looking pretty: The Boys in Green have won six of their 11 matches and lost only one.

It would take more than mere motivational skills for Giggs to break the trend the Irish have built whenever they square up.

Betting Tip

??

Wales vs Republic of Ireland Wales -0.50 @ 1.99
September 7, 02:45 (GMT+8)

The Wales vs Ireland odds are tipped in the hosts' favour for a reason.

The Welsh crowd probably still remember the heartache of witnessing their team miss out on the World Cup in front of them, and I don't think they'll allow the Irish much comfort when they come to play.

Moreover, the quality showcased by Bale should be more than enough to get Wales past a Republic of Ireland team extremely weakened by injuries.

If you are looking for other betting options to make, Under 1.75 Goals is viable at 2.08. These two countries haven't scored much in their last three games, and I think a single Bale goal will put them through. The correct score of 1-0 is also available at 4.40.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 06-Sep-2018 @ 7:04 PM


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06-Sep 2018 Thursday @ 7:07 PM (103 days ago)            #4
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UEFA Nations League: Road Back to Glory Starts Now for Italy, Poland

Italy vs Poland

It's time for a change for both Italy and Poland, and the two nations made that clear when they hired new managers after what could be said as a disastrous 2018.

Italy are now under Roberto Mancini, who took the reins last May to replace the sacked Gian Piero Ventura. The 53-year-old Italian manager led Manchester City to their first title in 44 years back in 2012, so hopes are high that he can replicate that success with the Azzurri as they aim to return to relevance.

Meanwhile, Jerzy Brzeczek took over Poland in the wake of the team's embarrassing exit in the World Cup. The former Poland skipper knows what he needs to do after the disappointment of Adam Nawalka, and the pressure is certainly on him to deliver.

The UEFA Nations League is the first test for Italy and Poland in their quest to return to their former glory. And they are undoubtedly determined to kick off its inaugural season on a winning note when they face each other this week.

Talking Points

If there is one thing that Italy and new boss Mancini are not lacking, it is confidence.

The Azzurri may have failed to reach the World Cup 2018 in Russia, but they now appear ready to move on from one of the ugliest moments in their nation's history and spark a new era of Italian football.

As reported in the latest UEFA Nations League 2018 news, Mancini claimed that his team is not only capable of topping their group but also winning it all and becoming the tournament's first-ever champions.

"We are Italy, we have to play well, I am confident, I think there are good players in our side," the 53-year-old Italian manager said on their chances in the Nations League.

"There are only three or four players in the world who win the games on their own, I think our players can do well."

While Mancini's words may be taken with a grain of salt, his confidence surely isn't mere blabbering.  After all, he has a deep and talented roster that only needs proper utilisation.

The former Manchester City and Inter Milan boss has named a 31-man squad for the competition, headlined by Nice striker Mario Balotelli, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Lazio frontman Ciro Immobile.

Mario Balotelli is expected to lead the Azzurri against the Polish squad
Nice's Mario Balotelli controls the ball during the second leg of their Champions League playoff clash against Napoli

Juventus defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are back to anchor the Italy backline as well, with AC Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma getting the No.1 shirt and taking over the post between the sticks after the legendary Gigi Buffon.

With such strong and experienced players in all fonts, Mancini knows very well that they have what it takes to get back up and rebuild quickly.

Poland, on the other hand, still have to sort things out with their new boss Brzeczek. The 47-year-old boss took the national head coaching duty less than three months ago, and that's not enough time to familiarise the players with the football that he wants to play.

Fortunately for Brzeczek, he has several experienced players he can use for the game against Italy. While he named some fresh faces to his squad for the tournament, 14 of his 27-man line-up were part of the recent World Cup.

Robert Lewandowski remains the leader up front for the team; and after his disappointing performance in Russia, he is eager to prove that he still has enough gas left in his tank to fire the Polish team to glory.

There are also the likes of Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, Jan Bednarek, Kamil Glik, Rafal Kurzawa, and Piotr Zielinski who offer enough quality in all areas—something that should allow Brzeczek to compete well in his first game in charge.

History

The Nations League is a new competition organised by UEFA to replace international friendlies. It divides the 55 member associations to four leagues based on their UEFA coefficient rankings.

Italy and Poland are both in League A—the top-tier of the Nations League—and are drawn in Group A3 along with reigning European Champions Portugal. Both the Italians and the Poles will have high hopes in the competition though, especially with the fact that it offers a route to the Euro 2020.

The two teams are well matched in their past five meetings, winning twice each and drawing the other. For what it's worth, Italy have won their last match-up—a 0-2 friendly victory at the Stadion Miejski in Wroclaw in 2011.

Interestingly, Italy have also never lost against Poland in a home game. The Azzurri hold a 3-2-0 win-draw-loss record against the Poles in their games played on their turf.

Betting Tip

??

Italy vs Poland Italy Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.04
September 08, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Home-court advantage and a bit of familiarity count for something for Italy. They are the favourites to win their opener at SBOBET, with the UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds placing them well ahead of Poland.

As mentioned, Poland have never beaten them in a home game. And while the Poles have a world-class striker in Lewandowski, it remains to be seen how he and the team will adjust to the style of Brzeczek. That's never easy, after all.

Italy, meanwhile, have already played three friendlies under Mancini. Sure, they only won one game in those fixtures, but that should be beneficial for them in a competitive match like this one.

With that said, I predict the Azzurri to dominate the game, though I don't expect a high-scoring affair.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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This message was edited by SBOBET on 06-Sep-2018 @ 7:08 PM


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06-Sep 2018 Thursday @ 7:15 PM (103 days ago)            #5
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UEFA Nations League: Can Iceland Continue to Surprise?

Switzerland vs Iceland

Iceland have built a reputation as football's ultimate underdogs and, as usual, they will look to show that they should never be counted out when they play Switzerland in Matchday 1 of the very first UEFA Nations League.

The Nordic nation may have had a fairly underwhelming stint in the World Cup 2018, but as they have proven over the past two years, they are a team capable of upsetting even the giants and powerhouses of world football.

Switzerland have a pretty nice record against Iceland and will fancy their chances as they try to get off to a winning start in Group 2 of League A; however, they will certainly be cautious of the threat that the small nation brings.

Talking Points

If there's one thing we know about Iceland, it's that they have a penchant for pulling off remarkable performances when you least expect it.

Iceland almost made it to World Cup 2014, but it is in the Euro 2016 that they put themselves on the map. They reached the quarter-finals of the tournament, even beating a highly rated England squad on their way to the last eight.

They made gigantic strides since then and reached the World Cup in Russia last June. While they failed to win a single game in the tournament, they did produce one of the best performances when they held mighty Argentina to a 1-1 draw in their opening game.

They are the smallest nation ever to participate in the Euro Championship and the World Cup, and hopes are high that they can pick up where they left off as they continue to rise in the European ladder.

One change for Iceland since the World Cup is the man at the helm. Heimir Hallgrimsson, coach and part-time dentist who guided Iceland to a first-ever World Cup, has stepped down as manager after seven years with the team.

Heimir Hallgrimsson left his post as the Iceland manager before the UEFA Nations League
Heimir Hallgrimsson during Iceland National Football Team training in Russia

Hallgrimsson was replaced by Swede veteran tactician Erik Hamren who previously coached the Sweden national team. The 61-year-old boss helped the Blagult qualify for the Euros two consecutive times before bidding farewell at the end of their Euro 2016 campaign.

The Nations League will be his first tournament as Iceland boss, and he will surely look to make an impression as the Icelandic men's team dream bigger.

Switzerland, on the other hand, will aim to crush Iceland's aspirations as they try to build from their fine showing in the recently concluded World Cup. Coach Vladimir Petkovic guided his Swiss charges to an undefeated run in the competition's group stage—one win and two draws—before losing to Sweden in the Round of 16.

Now, they will hope to get the momentum swinging back to their favour when they play in another international competition.

Midfielders Valon Behrami (Udinese) and Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt) have already retired from the Swiss squad following the World Cup, but Petkovic will remain confident with the line-up that he has, particularly with the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner (Arsenal), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) and Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) all available at his disposal.


RELATED:

UEFA Nations League Guide: Format, Key Fixtures, Betting Odds & More!


History

While there's no doubt Iceland are a feisty side that won't easily go down without a fight, their record against Switzerland will surely cause some concern.

Switzerland and Iceland have met on six previous occasions, with the former never losing a game. In fact, the Swiss have won five out of those six meetings, averaging nearly two goals in all those victories.

If there's one silver lining for Iceland, it is that they were able to manage a 4-4 draw with the Swiss in their last meeting in the World Cup qualifiers back in 2013. More amazingly, they battled back from a three-goal deficit in that game to share the spoils with the Blagult.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson bagged a hat-trick for Iceland to spark their spectacular comeback, so fans will undoubtedly have their eyes on him in hopes of seeing the 27-year-old repeat his performance and grab the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights.

Betting Tip

??

Switzerland vs Iceland Over 2.25 @ 2.25
September 09, 00:00 (GMT+8)

Switzerland have history on their side, not to mention that they will be playing on their own turf—in front of a supportive home crowd. With that said, it's no wonder why they are the runaway winners against Iceland at SBOBET.

Nonetheless, while the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds have the Swiss as overwhelming favourites, it's hard to ignore Iceland's rise and the confidence they have developed in recent years.

The Nordic squad doesn't have a big name star like Switzerland, but they have capable players in Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alfred Finnbogason, and Gudmundsson who can well fire them to victory.

This match-up is crucial for the two nations as it could be the decider of their future in the group, with the worst finisher set to be relegated to League B. With that in mind, it's not wrong to expect the two national teams to fight all out and play out another tight and high-scoring affair.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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08-Sep 2018 Saturday @ 3:29 PM (102 days ago)            #6
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Golden Awards: The Best of the Best of FIFA 2018

Northern Ireland vs Bosnia and Herzegovina

Northern Ireland welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina to Windsor Park this weekend when the Irish fans have the chance to see one of Europe’s most potent strikers, whether they want to or not!

Edin Dzeko is likely to line up for Bosnia, and he has a scoring record to give the very best defenders a sleepless night. The 6'4" forward was the first to score 50 goals in three of the top European leagues, having done it for Wolfsburg, Manchester City and Roma.

So stop him on Saturday and Northern Ireland has a chance.

UEFA Nations League Northern Ireland vs Bosnia is a great way for SBOBET football fans to take a look at League B, as Europe’s new tournament gets into its stride. Group 3 in League B is a tough one, with a hard to beat Austria side in there, West Ham’s talented striker Marco Arnautovic and all.

The Northern Ireland vs Bosnia betting tips will be torn because this is such a close match to call: Bosnia have the better players, but home advantage with a bouncing Windsor Park is a huge factor.

Talking Points

Though they failed to qualify for Russia 2018, Bosnia have plenty of talent: the £89m Manchester City considered paying for Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic probably outweighs the total value of the Northern Ireland squad put together!

His 79 caps and glittering career for Lyon, Roma and Juventus elevate Pjanic to be one the best midfielders in Europe. Staying with the Bianconeri, he is very much at home with world-class talent including Cristiano Ronaldo, Blaise Matuidi and Leonardo Bonucci alongside him.

Northern Ireland vs Bosnia Betting Tips: Edin Dzeko to open the scoring at Windsor Park
Northern Ireland contend with Bosnia’s Edin Dzeko in their UEFA Nations League match on Saturday

The complete midfielder, Ireland must find a way to stop him pulling the strings and putting chances on a plate for Dzeko.

The Bosnian FA has brought in former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Robert Prosinecki after missing out on qualification for Russia 2018, and with his experience of managing Croatia, he could be the man to move Bosnia forward. He has the biggest goal threat on the pitch in Edin Dzeko who will be champing at the bit to make an impact on the world stage again.

The task of keeping the big man out could fall to young Leeds United keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, English-born but committed his future to Northern Ireland, which you can understand bearing in mind the number of high-quality young stoppers in the current England squad. He made his debut in a 0-0 draw with Panama in May and could get the nod at the weekend.

Whoever’s between the sticks will need plenty of protection, and much of that task will fall on the shoulders of Leicester City’s experienced centre-half Jonny Evans. Michael O’Neill’s sides are always well organised and Evans’s role will be vital, particularly as experienced utility man Chris Brunt has announced his retirement from International football.

At the other end of the pitch, Northern Ireland will be hard-pressed to break down the Bosnians, but O‘Neill has recalled Wigan striker Will Grigg for the first time since 2016 in the hope he can replicate his club form on the international stage.

History

Northern Ireland had a really difficult task to qualify for Russia 2018; they found themselves in a difficult qualifying group with 2014 World Champions Germany and understandably fell short, though not without a storm of despair in the playoffs.

A controversial penalty decision saw them lose to Switzerland and so incensed was defender Evans, he branded it a worse call than Thierry Henry’s handball goal assist against Ireland in 2010.

Bosnia, too, failed to qualify for the World Cup 2018, having made it to Brazil in 2014.

Recent form favours the visitors, unbeaten in four, while Northern Ireland won one in seven and arrive on the back of a 3-0 defeat to Costa Rica.

But we don’t have any Northern Ireland vs Bosnia results to go on here as this is the first game between these two, so let’s have a think.

Betting Tip

??

Northern Ireland vs Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 1.86
September 8, 21:00 (GMT+8)

The visitors are slight favourites at 2.61, with Northern Ireland at 2.89 and the draw 2.85. The big question is: can Ireland cope with the goal threat of Dzeko, backed up by the midfield prowess of Pjanic?

Roared on by the Green and White Army, they’ll give it one heck of a go, and a half-time stalemate at 1.80 could well be on.

We expect a tight affair, and the odds reflect that, with 0-1 goals at 1.99 and 2-3 goals at 1.92. Michael O’Neill’s side specialises in low-scoring games and kept four clean sheets at home in qualifying.

So we can surmise that 1-2 goals is likely; I can see a 0-1 or 1-1 result at 5.60 or 4.90.

Let’s just hope it’s not a 0-0!

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:04 PM (99 days ago)            #7
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UEFA Nations League Wales vs Ireland: A Fantastic Start for Giggs’ Wales!

Wales 4-1 Republic of Ireland

Cardiff City Stadium was in a hopeful mood in the leadup to the start of the UEFA Nations League Wales vs Ireland match. Not only did they start their inaugural foray at home soil, it was the debut home match of new Wales manager Ryan Giggs.

Wales vs Ireland odds saw this game as a tight contest, but the squad had other plans. The ecstatic home crowd got more than what they asked for when the Dragons pounded the guests to paste as they won 4-1. Gareth Bale and a handful of youngsters took charge as they exacted revenge on an outclassed Ireland side.

Martin O'Neill can make all the excuses he wants, but he cannot deny that they didn't have to be mugged they way they did by the hosts. Meanwhile, this was a fine start for Giggs' Wales, and things are going up for them.

Highlights of the game

Wales satisfied Wales vs Ireland Odds after winning as host
Connor Roberts scores a fantastic goal against Rep. of Ireland

The Boys in Green kicked off the ball, but instant pressure from Real Madrid star Gareth Bale was able to turn the ball over. The Dragons tried to get a quick goal in the first 90 seconds with their high-pressure football, but the very physical Irish backline managed to protect the goal dispossess their hosts.

The crowd didn't have to wait long to celebrate the new era of Welsh football. Tom Lawrence made a brilliant move to lose his marker on six minutes, and Joe Allen set him up for a one-on-one with Darren Randolph. He fired a near-post shot that got past the Middlesbrough stopper, much to the delight of the Welsh crowd.

Ireland soon got their attack together after an early Welsh rampage and began to hold possession of the football more often. Callum O'Dowda tried a long-range shot to surprise Wayne Hennessey, but the shot was blocked and Hennessey was easily able to catch the ball.

While it seemed that Ireland were slowly getting themselves back into the game, Bale made the Dragons' lead bigger in the 18th minute. Ben Davies dispossessed Ireland near the penalty box and unleashed a long ball to the Galactico to the right. Bale controlled the ball, drifted a bit to the centre, and fired a fine long-range cannon beyond Randolph's outstretched hands.

The night got even longer for the Irish when Aaron Ramsey dug even a deeper ditch from their guests. Ethan Ampadu made a strong tackle from the centre circle in the 37th minute and made a cutting run through the middle of the Welsh formation. He then placed a good pass to Ramsey, and the Arsenal man finished the goal with two Ireland shirts pressuring him.

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane probably gave the Irish more harsh words than they could handle, and the Irish came out of the tunnel with more purpose. While they did manage to make dangerous plays at the start, captain Ashley Williams and Ampadu made strong defensive plays.

The game was pretty much killed off when the Dragons produced another fantastic goal during the 55th minute. With all of the attention on Gareth Bale to the left, he passed the ball to an open Connor Roberts. He controlled the ball and fired a beautiful goal.

It was at this point that Wales started showboating and playing around. However, it was during this time that Ireland got a consolation goal. Ramsey mishandled the ball, allowing Shaun Williams to take the ball and dink the ball past the keeper.

The Boys in Green tried their hardest to get another goal off jovial Wales, but that was the last time the backline would allow such a blunder to happen anymore. The two sides played the rest of the game in a deadlock, and the atmosphere erupted to a jovial mood as Wales won 4-1.

Key statistics

The former Manchester United man put a premium on investing time towards the nation's young talent, and his bold risk paid off in spades. A total of six players under 24 years of age made the pitch. Three of them made a significant impact and graced Wales vs Ireland highlights: Ampadu looked at home beside Ramsey, David Brooks was a constant threat from the wings, and Roberts scored a fantastic goal.

This Welsh side handily beat an Ireland team that didn't lose an away game during their run in the World Cup qualifiers. They also weren't beaten in seven of their last eight away matches. This could be seen as a testament to how hard the injury bug hit the team.

While the injury bug can be blamed for the mess, it cannot be denied that Wales won the contents of the game. They had the lion's share of the ball, had more goal attempts, and forced Randolph to make a whopping four saves.

What's next?

UEFA Nations League Wales vs Ireland: Ryan Giggs and Wales secure a win vs Rep. of Ireland
Ryan Giggs proved his spot as Wales new manager

Denmark will be a great test for Giggs' Wales, and it will be a real barometer as to whether the Dragons have gotten better for real. Given how this match ended, I am certain that SBOBET fans will be looking into this match with much anticipation.

Meanwhile, Ireland will be trying to get things together as they make the trek to the continental mainland and square off against Poland. They might face another goalscoring threat in Robert Lewandowski, and the Irish better improve their leaky defence if they want to put up a decent fight.

 

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:07 PM (99 days ago)            #8
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UEFA Nations League: So What’s This All About, Then?

England vs Spain

We’ve been told by UEFA chiefs that it will offer an improvement on the often-seen drudgery of international friendlies.

That it will enliven matches more than so many of the meaningless encounters we have witnessed between qualifying and tournaments.

Yet what is the UEFA Nations League? Will it really catch on with SBOBET’s intelligent followers and football fans generally?

Or will it just add to the brain ache of yet another tournament, the concept of which has even failed to inspire some of the players?

Talking Points

What we do know is that it is a 55-nation, four-league competition (determined by each country’s UEFA ranking last November) that, we are reliably informed, will add excitement to the qualification for Euro 2020.

If you are not totally sure, don’t take my word for it – look at my colleague’s succinct explanation instead.

The brainchild of disgraced former UEFA head Michel Platini, it certainly has created the potential for more games between established nations as this fixture – and the fact England have also been paired with Croatia – tends to support.

Oh yes, Croatia – their bete noire at Russia 2018 – the nation which dashed their World Cup final hopes in extra time back in the heady days of summer.

Personally, I am in the camp that yet another tournament will simply add to the strain on top players, making it more difficult to rest senior professionals and blood youngsters.

Yet there will be those in the opposite camp who feel matches of this nature can only improve many of those players and nations competitively, testing themselves against more equally matched sides than the ‘David and Goliath’ mismatches often thrown up in qualifying groups (and, since the tournament was expanded, the odd World Cup and European Championships.)

Traditional qualifiers between March and November next year, incidentally, will still determine 20 of the 24 countries for Euro 2020.

So the homecoming of England at Wembley arrives at a time when the national side’s stock is at its highest for 20 years.

Yet, this, coupled with a friendly against Leicester next week, is in many ways the start of a new chapter and manager Gareth Southgate will only be too well aware: if there is a major dip, the summer goodwill will be quickly forgotten.

At least, England have some goodwill left in the tank.

Spain’s World Cup in Russia was little more than a disaster with the fall-out from the departure of coach Julen Lopetegui – just two days before their World Cup opener – setting the scene for a tournament which ended with a penalty shootout defeat at the hands of the hosts in the Last 16.

New coach Luis Enrique has imposed strict new rules in his bid to turn Spain into one of the best team in the UEFA Nations League
Luis Enrique in an interview during his presentation as the new coach of Spain

Former Barcelona favourite Luis Enrique is now the man in charge.

He is already without Diego Costa – one of the few Spain players to emerge with credit from Russia – for this one, citing ‘personal reasons’.

And Enrique’s omission of Jordi Alba – who said he was happier under Enrique’s successor at club level Ernesto Valverde – suggests a decision made on a personal rather than a professional basis.

Remember this is a nation which is also starting a new era of its own with Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and David Silva all retiring from international duty since the summer.

And so a new chapter begins for two football-mad nations.

Can they produce some of the inaugural UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights?

History

The sides last met in November 2016. It was an exciting contest at Wembley in which England led 2-0 through Adam Lallana (penalty) and Jamie Vardy goals only for substitutes Iago Aspas – called up to this squad in place of Costa – and Isco to score twice in the final two minutes.

Spain had triumphed 2-0 on home soil in a friendly 12 months earlier with England’s last victory over the then-reigning world champions in November 2011 when Frank Lampard scored the only goal for a nation then managed by Fabio Capello - a rare Three Lions success against Spain.

Betting Tip

??

England vs Spain Over 2.25 @ 2.08
September 9, 2:45AM (GMT+8)

The UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds barely separate the two teams.

England 1X2 @ 2.78 and Spain 1X2 @ 2.60 suggest an evenly matched contest, as does the draw which is offered @ 2.98.

If you are hedging your bets with Asian Handicap betting, how about England 0.00 @ 2.03 or the visitors 0.00 @ 1.89 – you’ve nothing to lose!

Whether too much can be read into the result, however, only time will tell!

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:11 PM (99 days ago)            #9
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UEFA Nations League: Stalemate in Munich

Germany 0-0 France

Germany and France played out a draw tonight at the Allianz Arena in a game lacking in goals but packed with quality.

This was the big match on the opening night of the UEFA Nations League and, despite the scoreline, it didn’t disappoint. Some of the best players in the world were on show, and this was a game full of world-class action.

This is the start of a long road back for Germany, and Joachim Low’s side played with the passion so lacking at the World Cup. They held the 2018 Champions and could have won.

Highlights of the game

Germany started the brighter with a look of intent to banish to history their humiliation in Russia. And Timo Werner got round the back of the France defence, but his dangerous ball in was cut out by the perfectly positioned N’Golo Kante.

Les Bleus quickly got into their stride with Lucas Hernandez stretching the German defence down the left wing. Low’s team lacks pace at the back, and France’s speed would test it severely. But despite Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann lurking, the hosts defended well enough to repel the threat.

And France keeper Alphonse Areola was the first to be called into action when Jerome Boateng put Timo Werner in, on the left side of the penalty area, and the RB Leipzig forward stung the stopper’s hands.

France came the closest to scoring in the first half when N’Golo Kante put over the perfect cross for Olivier Giroud to direct his header towards the bottom corner, but Manuel Neuer got down well to turn the ball away.

Mbappe is about to start a three-match ban in Ligue 1, having picked up a red card against Nimes, so he was ready to leave everything on the pitch tonight. He didn’t have much of a sniff in the opening period but did force a regulation save from Neuer with a curling free-kick as France finished the stronger.

Giroud almost opened the scoring seconds before the break when he flicked a Mbappe cross just wide.

France opened the second half on the front foot: when Benjamin Pavard found Griezmann, the Atletico man tested Neuer with a low shot. Then Areola was back in the action when Thomas Muller fired low towards the bottom corner. And as the game began to stretch, first Griezmann almost finished a beautiful France move, and then Areola made a great reaction save to deny a first-time effort from Marco Reus.

Germany began to dominate, and Areola was again on call to make a spectacular save when defender Mats Hummels, of all people, was on the end of a fast break. The young French keeper then pulled out his best save of the night, with lightning reactions, when Matthias Ginter thought he’d scored with a header. If you didn’t see it live, take a look at the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights.

Key statistics

UEFA Nations League news: Alphonse Areola saves France in a goalless draw against Germany
France goalkeeper Alphonse Areola saves the ball during their UEFA Nations League match against Germany

Germany started the match with seven of the team which played South Korea in their last game at the World Cup, while France started with ten of their final side, only goalkeeper Hugo Lloris missing out to be replaced by Alphonse Areola. And the debutant played a blinder.

Our UEFA Nations League 2018 odds on this game had the draw at 3.15; it was a fair enough result but the hosts had the edge over 90 minutes.

Germany had more possession in the first half with 57 per cent to 43, but it was a tight opening, with only six shots and three each. But Germany stepped it up in the second half, winning the shot count by 13 to eight in the end and forcing Areola into five good saves.

Low admitted that arrogance played a part in Germany’s spectacular demise at the World Cup, but there was no lack of effort here. You could tell there were points at stake, and probably more for the hosts.

What’s next?

France are the best team in the world at the moment, and they face one of the past masters of world football, the Netherlands, on Sunday, before Ronald Koeman’s team meets Germany on Saturday 13th. Make sure you join in the action with us, right here at SBOBET.

The inventors of Total Football have failed to reach the last two major tournaments and have been sadly missed. Koeman was an imperious player for the Dutch and he could be the man to rejuvenate this team. And they made a good start tonight, coming from behind to beat Peru 2-1.

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:15 PM (99 days ago)            #10
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UEFA Nations League France vs Netherlands: Here’s Ronny!

France vs Netherlands

The Stade de France is the place to be on Sunday when France’s Nations League campaign continues, and this time Les Bleus face Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands.

UEFA Nations League France vs Netherlands is a game with plenty of intrigue. The Dutch have long been pioneers of modern football, with an attention to the detail without diluting the beauty of their football. Netherlands legend Johan Cruyff was the epitome of all that is beautiful in the game, but it seems a distant memory in recent years.

Another Holland hero has been helicoptered in to lift the wounded Dutch out of their gloom, and the Netherlands' football chiefs think that in Koeman they have an inspirational coach.

Our SBOBET tips won’t suggest an Orange revolution quite yet, but this game is not the walkover FIFA rankings and recent history suggests. Didier Deschamps will have to get his team focused to keep their notoriously critical fans onside.

Talking Points

There’s plenty of SBOBET UEFA Nations League 2018 action to enjoy, and this League A Group 1 is a cracker with the World Cup champions of 2014 and 2018, Germany and France, joined by everyone’s favourite nearly team, the Netherlands.

In all fairness, the Dutch have been nowhere near for some time now, missing out on the last two major tournaments. The last time they played France, they were on the end of a right royal 4-0 thumping in the World Cup qualifiers. And it’s high time someone pulled them up by their bootstraps. Enter Ronald Koeman. The former Barcelona star is a Holland legend, winning 78 caps in a great period for his nation when they became Euro 88 champions.

As a player, Koeman was an uncompromising defender with the ball skills of a midfield general and a shot like a bullet. He was the ultimate all-rounder in a talented side; the Orange Army will hope some of his magic can rub off on his players.

SBOBET tips Virgil van Dijk to make a huge difference when Netherland visit France
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk in action with Leicester City's Marc Albrighton

He has inherited a decent squad from Dick Advocaat, with strong representation in the Premier League. His side is skippered by centre-back Virgil van Dijk; the Liverpool man is fast becoming one of the best defenders in England, and alongside Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake, he can play the type of football his boss displayed in his pomp.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Van Dijk’s Liverpool team-mate, and Daryl Janmaat are also likely to feature in Paris, as may Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who made his debut in Thursday’s 2-1 win over Peru. But there will be no Wesley Sneijder as the 34-year-old has called time on his international career.

France midfield ace Paul Pogba is still at the beginning of his international journey, but he’s already big daily news. He dominated the headlines before Thursday’s draw with Germany, not with his form on the pitch but more so his comments off, suggesting he’s very much open to a move away from Manchester United. That prompted a furious outcry from frustrated Red Devils’ fans, and he has some making up to do.

But he can forget about all that for a few days while he’s away. His form for France has been pretty good and, in a winning side full of talent, he seems at ease. But the star man in Thursday’s draw with Germany was undoubtedly goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, he kept a deserved clean sheet in his first appearance with a string of top-class saves.

History

Football fans expects Paul Pogba to shine in UEFA Nations League France vs Netherlands game
France's Paul Pogba collide with Germany's Joshua Kimmich as the rain falls in Munich

France vs Netherlands results have been in Les Bleus’ favour, with the hosts winning 13 of 26 previous meetings, while the Netherlands have won 10 and three have ended in a draw.

The recent fortunes of each side are reflected in the last four meetings which have all gone the way of France, including the 4-0 thrashing of Danny Blind’s team last year. We watched France play out a competitive 0-0 draw with Germany in their Nations League opener and, having looked the more likely to win in the first half, they were slightly fortunate to finish with a point in the end, But that preserves their unbeaten run from the beginning of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, ex-Manchester United star Memphis Depay scored a brace as the Netherlands came from behind to beat Peru. That means the Dutch haven’t lost a game under their new coach since his opener against England in March.

Betting Tip

??

France vs Netherlands Under 2.75 goals @ 1.88
September 10, 02:45 (GMT+8)
Didier Deschamps team is the clear favourite to win this game at odds of 1.45, with the draw at 4.00 and the Netherlands out at 6.00.

But I think it may be a tight affair. Areola is a good deputy for Hugo Lloris and looks capable of repelling much of what the Netherlands plan to throw at him, while Koeman has some top talent in his defence.

And if you think he can continue his good start as boss, then you can back Ronald’s team with a double chance to win or draw at 2.40.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:31 PM (99 days ago)            #11
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UEFA Nations League Review: A Great Moral Win for Poland

Italy 1-1 Poland

If you watched the UEFA Nations League clash between Italy and Poland, you may belong to one of two camps.

You may think that Italy deserved to win after hounding and pounding for more than half of the game. You may have the opinion that Poland deserved the three points after weathering through such a strong team.

However, you cannot deny that this was a cracker of a match! There wasn't a lot of UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights in this game compared to other matches, but that doesn't mean that the affair wasn't as exciting. Poland gave Italy more than they could handle for 90 minutes and could have run away with the three points if it weren't for late drama.

After all, the pre-match predictions at SBOBET saw this as an easy win for the hosts.

Highlights of the game

The match began with both teams on equal footing, trying to grasp the full capabilities of their squad and their opponents. Attackers from both sides have made their attempts to unsettle the opposing keepers. But it was the Bialo-czerwoni, a team that seemed outclassed in this match as they were in Russia, that were able to really threaten a goal first.

 A long pass in the middle of the Italian defence was expertly handled by Robert Lewandowski. The Polish captain attracted enough attention to give Piotr Zielinski enough space. He set up a one-on-one situation between Zielinski and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the Napoli man wasn't able to beat the AC Milan stopper.

From that point on, the Poles began a barrage of attacks that didn't allow much possession for Gil Azzurri. They had as much as 75% of possession during the first ten minutes of the game, but the Italian backline was able to hold off. The first 20 minutes of the game also saw referee Felix Zwayer give yellow cards to Giorgio Chiellini, Mateusz Klich, and Jakub Blaszczykowski.

The physicality of the match amped up as the yellow cards continued to pile up as Poland tried playing roughly to dispossess the football from Italy. The Italian backline was also having trouble trying to contain the highly motivated Bayern Munich man. Grzegorz Kychowiak attempted a shot in front of goal after a 26th-minute long throw, but Donnarumma expertly pushed the ball away.

Federico Bernardeschi almost put Italy ahead in the 37th minute when he was able to put the ball in front of him in a blitzing counter. He took a shot while being surrounded by several white shirts, but his shot went wide by half a ball.

While it seemed that the first half would end without any goals happening, Poland got the first strike. Lewandowski attracted the attention of the Italian defence as he lurked just outside the penalty box. He then made a lobbed pass that was received by an open Piotr Zielinski. There was no way he would miss such an open shot from within five yards.

Italy tried to get one back on the Bialo-czerwoni before the end of the first half, but their passes weren't connecting and they were visibly affected by the physical brand of defence heir hosts have implemented. The first half ended without any action happening.

The second half started with Roberto Mancini's Italy running out to get an equaliser, but it was Robert Lewandowski who was able to get the first good chance from inside the box. Fortunately for the Gil Azzurri, he mistimed his shot. Bernardeschi had another crack at goal in the 52nd minute, and his effort was once again wide by another half of a ball!

Midfielder Jorginho commits an error that leads to Poland earning a goal before the first half ends of their UEFA Nations League opener
Jorginho celebrates after scoring the equaliser

The Italians continued to find cracks in Poland's defences, but Lukasz Fabianski and the backline made sure that all of their bases were covered. Thankfully, Blaszczykowski made a poor sliding tackle to award a penalty to Italy. Jorginho, currently with a rising stock at Stamford Bridge, equalised the score with a 78th-minute penalty to the left of the goal.

Both tried to get the winner, with Roberto Mancini's Italy having the bulk of possession. However, Jerzy Brzeczek has arranged his squad in such a way that the guests won't be able to score easily. After minutes of brilliant defending from the Poles, Zwayer blew the final whistle to end the contest at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara in a draw.

Key statistics

The stats are as tight as the game, and it can also be construed to support your arguments.

The Italians had more time with the ball and had more shots on target. However, they also had to block more shots as Poland were just getting more of their attempts on targets. Donnarumma also had to make several saves as Lewandowski masterfully orchestrated the Polish offence.

This draw, in my opinion, was a great victory for the Poles, who lost 0-2 to the Italians when they last met in a 2011 friendly. Meanwhile, Roberto Mancini's record as Italy boss has now ballooned to a 1-2-1 win-draw-loss record. It looks like his plan to transform Italy back to winners has taken a bit of a hit with this result.

What's next?

The Azzurri under new coach Roberto Mancini have a lot of work to do to reestablish their standing in the UEFA Nations League
Roberto Mancini giving orders in the touchline

The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds are going to be interesting for Italy's upcoming match against Portugal at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. With Cristiano Ronaldo not on the squad sheet for this meeting, Mancini's lads have a better chance of securing the three points.

Meanwhile, Poland will be engaging with the Republic of Ireland in a "meaningless" friendly. However, I don't think the Boys in Green will be coming to this match in a relaxed manner after the humiliation they experienced against Wales.

Both of these fixtures should be great tests for Italy and Poland.

 

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:35 PM (99 days ago)            #12
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UEFA Nations League: It’s Time to Resume Normal Service

Denmark vs Wales

Heard the one about the international football match featuring two students, a salesman and an internet star?

It’s certainly handy to know as it will likely be a quiz question for decades to come.

For as Denmark prepare to get their UEFA Nations League campaign underway, they are doing so amid the backdrop of a bizarre tale.

Read on, SBOBET fans.

Talking Points

It all stems from a row which threatened to turn their first international break of the autumn into something of a farce.

A row between the national team and the Danish Football Association (DBU) meant players from Denmark's top two divisions, as well as those based overseas, were unavailable for the midweek friendly with Slovakia.

Denmark are back to their full strength when they face Wales for their first UEFA Nations League match
Denmark's amateur squad leaves the pitch after their international friendly loss against Slovakia

Perhaps it was no surprise the match ended in a 3-0 Danish defeat, and that ticket prices were even slashed to €1 because of the depleted Danish team.

Danish futsal players also featured in the makeshift starting 11 with the Association describing the result as an ‘honourable defeat’.

Christian Offenberg, who led the attack, is a part-time salesman who also plays for Danish third-tier side Avarta.

Right-back Simon Vollesen, who plays in the Danish fifth tier, is a student, as is Adam Fogt, while Rasmus Johansson is best known in his country as the internet freestyle footballer who has tens of thousands of followers on Instagram and YouTube.

It was in Denmark’s interests to act as they did this week to avoid possible reprisals from UEFA, but it was a far cry from the side which so entertained and progressed at Russia 2018 and were within a penalty shoot-out of reaching the quarter-finals.

Well, now the big guns are coming back in Aarhus.

It will be the likes of playmaker Christian Eriksen and talented goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel up against Gareth Bale and Co, rather than emergency stand-ins (who fared rather well given the circumstances, even if their first caps may also prove to be their only caps).

The row has not been resolved, incidentally. Merely that talks between the sides have started amid hopes the difference over commercial rights can be ironed out.

Even manager Age Hareide will be back in charge after former international midfielder and Arsenal man John Jensen was in caretaker charge for the friendly against Slovakia.

Now they entertain a Wales side which showed some real class to produce some of the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights so far.

A 4-1 success over a depleted Republic of Ireland side was an impressive start for Ryan Giggs in his first competitive game as manager.

It was also a modicum of revenge for it was the Irish who defeated them on Welsh soil 11 months ago to end their World Cup qualifying hopes – Ireland missed out in a play-off defeat to Denmark, ironically.

It was a carnival atmosphere and a fabulous start as the Giggs tenure got underway in earnest.

And the footballing legend will prepare his team meticulously again, as he would whether he was to face an experienced Danish side or the unknowns who played in midweek.

This, then, is a true managerial test for Giggs who retired playing for the national team in 2007. It is also a test for Danish resolve.

History

This is actually the first meeting between the nations for a decade. In November 2008, Wales won 1-0 in a friendly in Denmark with Craig Bellamy scoring the goal in Brondby for John Toshack’s men.

The only survivors from either side that night were then-youngsters Bale and Aaron Ramsey, now arguably the two key figures in the class of 2018.

Before that, they had previously met in qualifiers for Euro 2000 with late goals giving Denmark a 2-0 win over Wales – playing at Anfield, Liverpool – after Wales had triumphed in Denmark a year prior, again with Bellamy netting a late winner.

In their eight meetings, each nation has four wins apiece.

Betting Tip

??

Denmark vs Wales Over 2.25 Goals @ 2.11
September 10, 00:00 (GMT+8)

So that is why many of you may think something has to give at the ninth attempt, and the odds on a 1X2 draw are an attractive @ 3.20.

A 1-1 draw will pay out odds of @ 5.60.

Denmark are favourites @ 2.07, compared to Wales @ 3.55.

The UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds also favour the hosts in Asian Handicap betting.

Denmark are priced -0.50 @ 2.08 with the Welsh + 0.25 @ 2.16.

Even total goal 4-6 @ 4.80 will have a certain temptation for some, while for Denmark to lead at both half-time and full-time then go for Half Time Full Time HH @ 2.75.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:38 PM (99 days ago)            #13
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UEFA Nations League: Bosnia picks Ireland’s Pocket

Northern Ireland 1-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina

There was heartbreak for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park today as Bosnia won a game dominated for long periods by the hosts in this Group B3 opener.

A goal in either half from Haris Duljevic and Elvis Saric were more than enough to win this game, but it was harsh on the Irish; a late Will Grigg goal was not much of a consolation. The Green and Whites are still smarting at the way they missed out on Russia 2018 and this result won’t have cheered them up much.

But it was another good watch for fans. The UEFA Nations League already looks like a big success with the top teams in Europe clearly relishing these games with a competitive edge.

Highlights of the game

Roared on by a passionate Windsor Park crowd, the Irish had much the better of the first half. The fans were on their feet in the very first minute shouting for a penalty: the Bosnian defence tried to play the ball out but George Saville took advantage. He was then appeared to be tripped in the box, but the ref was unmoved.

As Northern Ireland pressed, Niall McGinn beat Eldar Civic to the ball and released a shot which Bosnia goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic pushed away. Saville was so close to turning in a ball from Conor McLaughlin, and then striker Kyle Lafferty took the ball off his skipper Steven Davis, who was in a good position to shoot.

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic has been a pivotal figure for Bosnia, and as the visitors gradually came into the half he began to put himself about, earning a yellow card for a late tackle on Saville.

Ireland keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was making his competitive debut for his country, and he was called into action after a quiet half-hour when Bosnia danger man Edin Dzeko fired straight at him from 12 yards.

If that was a warning, the Irish didn’t heed it and Bosnia were ahead five minutes later. Pjanic released Dzeko with a superb ball down the left, and the Roma man crossed from the by-line; Peacock-Farrell hesitated and Haris Duljevic beat four defenders to the ball to slide it home.

The Irish will wonder how they went in 0-1 down at halftime.

And they’ll wonder how they stayed 0-1 down when McGinn put in a superb cross for Stuart Dallas, who had all the time and space he needed to head home. But instead he chose to volley down into the ground, and Sehic tipped the ball over.

Lafferty had a great chance to score moments later but he shot straight at the Bosnia stopper. But as the Green and Whites strained to draw level, a moment of disaster dealt a savage blow to their hopes.

Craig Cathcart’s headed back pass was woefully short, and in nipped Elvis Saric to beat Peacock-Farrell to the ball and slide it into the empty net.

You’d expect that to knock the stuffing out of the Irish, but they’re a tough lot and they refused to lie down. But as they pressed they almost went three down, when Bosnia broke and Duljevic curled a beauty of a shot which crashed back off the post.

UEFA Nations League results: Will Grigg ends Northern Ireland's run of 6 hours without a goal in competitive football
Northern Ireland's Will Grigg scores their first goal vs Bosnia

Michael O’Neill’s men finally got some reward, deep into injury time, when substitute Will Grigg fired home from a corner.

It was hard on the hosts but a great start to the campaign for Bosnia, and after next week's UEFA Nations League 2018 results, we’ll know just how great.

Key statistics

The pre-match SBOBET odds had the visitors as slight favourites at 2.61, and this was a classic smash-and-grab.

Ireland dominated the first half with 65 per cent possession and nine shots to two, but both sides had two shots on target. And the second half was more of the same with the shot count increasing to 26 to five. But the crucial statistic is the only one that matters in the end.

The hosts had failed to score in five from the last six games, so Grigg’s late strike was a welcome relief at least. But it’s three successive home defeats for Northern Ireland for the first time since 1995.

And Bosnia boss Robert Prosinecki won his first game against Northern Ireland, having lost twice when managing Azerbaijan.

What’s next?

Northern Ireland's Bailey Peacock-Farrell conceded two goals in UEFA Nations League vs Bosnia
Northern Ireland's Bailey Peacock-Farrell disheartened after the match vs Bosnia

Group B3 is going to be a competitive battle with only 16 places separating Austria, Northern Ireland and Bosnia in the FIFA rankings.

Bosnia are the lowest-ranked at 39, with Ireland at 27 and Austria 23. But UEFA Nations League 2018 odds on Bosnia and Herzegovina to get promotion to League A will have shortened after this result. There’s plenty of action to come, though, and Prosinecki’s team hosts Austria on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland have a friendly with Israel before meeting Austria in October, when they’ll need a better conversion ratio than one in 26!

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:48 PM (99 days ago)            #14
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UEFA Nations League Switzerland vs Iceland: Kyubun Witnessed a One-Sided Rout!

Switzerland 6-0 Iceland

If you thought of the UEFA Nations League Switzerland vs Iceland match to be a close battle, I wouldn't blame you. After all, the perennial underdogs were simply phenomenal during the 2016 Euros and the 2018 World Cup, the first major tournaments Iceland participated in.

Meanwhile, Switzerland also came off a strong outing in Russia, making it out of the group stage before bowing out to Sweden. The pre-game preview was so tight that Switzerland vs Iceland odds were relatively close.

However, everyone was taken for a surprise when the hosts put on a show for their home crowd and had a fantastic 6-0 victory. Many neutrals were probably surprised with the form the visiting Iceland team displayed after their recent form.

Highlights of the game

The game kicked off with a motivated Switzerland threatening to score an early goal against Iceland. Haris Seferovic created some space inside the box to unleash a powerful shot to the left side of the goal. Hannes Halldorsson, the goalkeeping hero in their World Cup match against Argentina, had to pull off a strong save.

Iceland attempted to break against Switzerland when Fabian Schar made a poor tackle and got booked for a yellow. Iceland fired a free kick that didn't end up on the foot of an Iceland player.

The Kyubunpark could smell a goal, but they didn't know which side would score first. Fortunately for them, it was Vladimir Petkovic's men who would score first in the 13th minute. Ricardo Rodriguez was with the ball on the left side of the box and made the pass to Steven Zuber. The open Zuber then fired a beautiful shot at the top corner, and the ball hit the crossbar before heading to the net.

Xherdan Shaqiri's curving free kick, one of Switzerland vs Iceland Highlights
Xherdan Shaqiri scores the third goal for Switzerland with a superb free kick

The Swiss continued to pound their guests, and their persistent attacks would eventually lead to another goal on 23 minutes. Xherdan Shaqiri took the free kick to the goal, which was deflected by Halldorsson. His deflection ended up on the feet of Schar, who passed it to an open Denis Zakaria. There was no way the Borussia Monchengladbach man would miss that close to the goal.

The Iceland supporters that made the trek to St. Gallen hoped that the winds would change when the second half began, but Shaqiri quickly snuffed any hopes of that happening. He took a brilliant free-kick that cut through the air, past the outstretched Halldorsson, and into the back of the net.

The Swiss never let their foot off the gas pedal as the match continued, even though they were already ahead by three goals by 64 minutes. They continued to dispossess their opponents and masterfully handled their high pressing with choice passes to open spaces. They were able to neutralise whatever good form the Strakarnir okkar had over the last two years.

The good times at Kyubun Park just kept going as the Swiss made yet another superb goal. The Swiss had the ball deep in Iceland territory, and Schar made a brilliant back pass to Haris Seferovic. The Benfica striker hit the ball with power towards the bottom-left corner to balloon the lead to an unbelievable 4-0.

Four became five four minutes later when Seferovic was found with the ball deep in the Icelandic penalty box. He redeemed an offside call that disallowed a goal two minutes ago, made a lovely inside pass for Albian Ajeti to tap in for Goal No 5.

Iceland had an opportunity to at least get a consolation goal when Jon Dadi Bodvarsson got the ball just in front of the goal. However, the Reading forward's efforts was a bitter pill to swallow for Iceland fans as his attempt went just wide of the right post.

While it seemed bad to keep on pounding an opponent who's already down, this Switzerland team can't help but score. Again, the Swiss mounted their attacks on the right. This time, it was Admir Mehmedi who scored the goal off a fine pass from Zakaria.

The crowd begged for one more, and the Rossocrociati tried to deliver, but the Icelandic backline stopped the humiliating loss from escalating even further. The game ended 6-0, and a delighted Kyubun Arena stood up and applauded their players at the end of the match.

Key statistics

Switzerland vs Iceland highlights were one-sided, and the statistics also showed how well the hosts played.

The Swiss had 60% of the possession, made 20 shot attempts, and had four corners. They also did well in keeping possession, completing 505 of their 568 pass attempts. Granit Xhaka, deemed by Stephane Henchoz unsuitable to captain the squad, was a solid force in midfield with his 91% pass completion rate and five tackles.

Meanwhile, Iceland struggled to find the back of the net as they only made three goal attempts in 90 minutes. While they had 22 free-kick attempts, they weren't able to do much against a solid Swiss defence. They are sorely missing Heimir Hallgrimsson's guidance, as the superb Iceland manager stepped down after the World Cup.

What's next?

Erik Hamrén's side failed to beat Switzerland vs Iceland Odds
Iceland coach Erik Hamren instructs Rurik Gislason during the match

Switzerland will be coming to their friendly against England with a lot of confidence. The Three Lions will always be a tough fixture for the Rossocrociati, and such a win will help the side perform well at the King Power Stadium.

Meanwhile, Iceland will be hosting a powerful Belgium side in their second Nations League match. SBOBET odds will surely be lopsidedly in favour of the Red Devils, but I will not write out the Strakarnir okkar just yet.

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 3:50 PM (99 days ago)            #15
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UEFA Nations League: Shaw Injury Mars Spain Success

England 1-2 Spain

These two nations had not met in a competitive match since Euro 1996.

On that occasion, I watched the encounter with my best friend on a balmy sunny afternoon in June willing England on as the excitement of football’s ‘coming home’ really did mesmerise a nation.

Forgive me for being cynical, but this newly formed UEFA Nations League just doesn’t do it for me generally (and obviously not in the same way as that quarter-final of a major tournament did).

But ignore my echoes of a glorious yesteryear, SBOBET followers.

For this is a new era now, and the early matches of this new competition suggest we could be in for a plethora of UEFA Nation League 2018 highlights.

England – rightly or wrongly – are optimistic again.

Twenty-two years on, Spain are too – and they have won one World Cup and two European Championships in the meantime!

Highlights of the game

This was an ideal opportunity for England to end what manager Gareth Southgate called their ‘non-existent track record’ against leading nations, and he included Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw and Liverpool defender Joe Gomez – neither of whom were in Russia but had promising starts to the new domestic season – in his starting line-up.

Marcus Rashford – a little bit unfortunate in his outing for United last weekend – was also included with Raheem Sterling ruled out by injury.

Many England fans would have liked Rashford to have been selected in Sterling’s place during Russia 2018, and you could see why just 11 minutes in.

That’s how long it took the talented youngster to sweep the ball past club teammate David de Gea after a superb ball from the marauding Shaw, released by skipper Harry Kane.

This wasn’t an ideal start in his first game in charge for manager Luis Enrique, who says he wants to change the Spanish national side’s possession-focused style.

Certainly, the intention to get the ball into attacking areas more quickly than in recent seasons paid dividends, though, as the visitors immediately hit back.

Just two minutes after Rashford’s opener, Thiago Alcantara broke free of the home backline and Saul Niguez expertly swept the ball beyond Jordan Pickford.

The tone had been set for an entertaining evening under the floodlights in London.

It certainly was a major boost for Niguez too – he hadn’t featured for a single minute at Russia 2018 – yet this was a quick reward for the faith Enrique had shown in him.

The pattern of play largely remained. Spain, dominating possession and always threatening. England, dangerous on the counter-attack and at set-pieces.

From one such ‘dead ball’, De Gea kept out a Kane header after he beat Sergio Ramos to the ball.

England’s Achilles heel, however, is their defence, and it showed again just past the hour mark.

Rodrigo along with Saul Niguez fired first-half goals to put Spain on the lead against England in UEFA Nations League
Rodrigo runs off in celebration after scoring their second goal

Rodrigo, formerly of Bolton Wanderers, tapped the ball in after slack marking, again from an Alcantara delivery.

A Rashford header from a Jesse Lingard ball forced De Gea into action as England threatened to hit back, but then it was Pickford denying Niguez from his second.

It was always going to be difficult for the first half to live up to the second, and so it proved as Spain had the better of the game. But few chances were created – Alcantara clipping the roof of the net, Niguez testing Pickford again and Kane going close from a tricky angle on the left.

A head injury to Shaw just after the restart certainly took the gloss off the game and led to a seven-minute delay and the full-back being stretchered off wearing a neck brace and requiring oxygen.

Indeed, the television company screening the match in the UK refused to show replays of the incident

After little luck with injuries since September 2015, it’s hoped he can make a speedy recovery.

He deserves it, too. Spain deserved this success.

Key statistics

England have won one of their last six matches against Spain.

England striker Kane officially received the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the World Cup before this match. Remember his six goals (three from the penalty spot) came against Tunisia, Panama and Colombia.

What’s next?

A friendly now follows for England who welcome Switzerland to Leicester’s King Power Stadium in midweek.

The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds will no doubt change again after Spain play their second match of the tournament by hosting defeated World Cup finalists Croatia at the Martinez Valero in Elche.

This is League A Group Four of the tournament. If you are still unsure of the format, take a look at this.

 

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:07 PM (99 days ago)            #16
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UEFA Nations League: Minnows Also Play Great Football!

UEFA Nations League - League C

The UEFA Nations League is a great opportunity for fans of European football to see some of the best football players don their nation on their crests and play a level of football that isn't usually seen by fans whenever the international break comes around.

This competition shares the limelight to nations that aren't usually given the time of day and allow them chances to shine in UEFA Nations League 2018 news pages. The first couple of games in League C, to be specific, have provided us with a good deal of drama and very interesting football results.

Whether you like how this new format is going or not, you cannot deny that this tournament brings a good deal of football-mad nations with their own brands of football to light. And that thought is nothing but delightful to the many football fans of SBOBET.

Group 1

There are only three nations in Group 1, and Scotland didn't play in the first round. Thus, all the Scottish fans were glued to the action at the Elbasan Arena when Albania squared off against Israel. The game considerably close, and it wouldn't have been weird for fans to brush it off as a draw, However, a brilliant goal from Taulant Xhaka changed the tune of the game.

Israel threw everything they had forward -- and could have been awarded a penalty after a rather controversial save from Thomas Strakosha moments before the Xhaka goal -- but Albania was able to hold on for the three points.

Highlight of the Group: Xhaka, the older brother of Switzerland star Granit who was solid against Iceland, got a nice pass from Jahmir Hyka and fired a speeding bullet to the bottom-right corner in the 55th minute.

Key statistics: It was a tale of two halves, though this could have been seen as an effect of Xhaka's goal than the Blue and Whites mounting an aggressive attack after the break. Albania had 62% of possession during the first half, and Israel had 58% in the second.

Group 2

All of the Group 2 games were played in the last day of the first Game Day 1, but the quality of action they displayed was nothing short of admirable if I do say so myself.

Estonia hosted Greece and found themselves on the backfoot from the very start of the game. Konstantinos Fortounis quickly found a goal after Konstantinos Mitroglou headed the ball to open space for him to crack to goal. Estonia desperately tried to fight back, but Sokratis brilliantly led the defence well. The Arsenal defender, who is growing his influence among the Gunner faithful, made sure that the game ended in a 0-1 win for the Greeks.

Finland was also able to get an early goal and defend the lead. Rasmus Schuller put Teemu Pukki through with a well-placed pass. In a display of great individual talent, the Norwich forward was able to get the goal.

Highlight of the Group: Pukki's goal was a lot more impressive than Fortounis' strike. The 28-year-old forward had to shake loose from a defender and beat a rushing Peter Gulacsi to put the ball into the net.

Key statistics: The first two games of this group saw the first (and only) goals go in extremely early in the match. Both of these goals happened before the 15-minute mark.

Group 3

This group had interesting UEFA Nations League 2018 odds coming into the game, and those who predicted that these games would be rather high-scoring affairs are jumping up and down their seats.

Noway's Stefan Johansen shone the brightest as he scored a brace to beat Cyprus. This is a statement game from the Fulham man, as the Premier League newcomers are too busy with other matters to give him consistent minutes on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria overcame the odds and defeated a very competitive Slovenia team to win the game, 1-2. A costly mistake from Vid Belec allowed Bozhidar Kraev to secure a brace of his own and a fantastic winner.

Highlight of the Group: Johansen's second goal in the 42nd minute was a thing of beauty. His free-kick from the right side of goal curled beautifully and went to the bottom-left corner. There was nothing Urko Pardo could do about that strike.

Key statistics: Both teams dominated their games in terms of possession and shot attempts. However, the Slovenian fans may feel that their team was mugged by the Bulgarians.

Group 4

Lithuanian supporters question Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic of overselling the penalty in UEFA Nations League
Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic in action against Lithuania's Algis Jankauskas during their UEFA Nations League opener

Serbia exited the World Cup without much fanfare, so they made sure that the fans who travelled with them to Lithuania had something to chirp happily about. The Eagles got the only goal of the game through a penalty kick that Dusan Tadic swiftly converted. However, the Lithuanian faithful who were present at the game would question Aleksandar's overselling of the penalty.

Meanwhile, the Romania-Montenegro match was a rather eventless draw. Napoli centre-back Vlad Chiriches had the best chance of getting a goal for the Tricolorii, but his poor handling denied the Romanians of a glorious three points.

Highlight of the Group: The foul on Mitrovic is definite point of contention between the supporters of the two groups. The replays showed that the defender who made the sliding tackle didn't really sweep the Fulham attacker off his feet.

Key statistics: Ernestas Setkus deserves more than a pat on the back from the Lithuania squad. He had to pull off nine incredible saves in order to stop the game from blowing out of proportion.

 

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:30 PM (99 days ago)            #17
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UEFA Nations League: History, Home Record and Entertainment!

UEFA Nations League - League D

League D may be the lowest tier of the UEFA Nations League, but the teams in the division didn't fail to impress in what could be said as an entertaining Matchday 1.

There was history for the league and the tournament, with Georgia scoring the first ever goal in the competition. Luxembourg, meanwhile, made sure to get a piece of history too with their biggest victory at home.

Interestingly, out of the eight games in League D, six fixtures saw two or more goals scored while only two ended up a scoreless stalemate.

GROUP 1

Georgia won the opening day of the tournament, beating Kazakhstan 0-2 and seeing the other Group D1 match between Latvia and Andorra finish with a goalless draw. These results mean that the Georgians are now top of the group with a firm lead over their opponents.

Giorgi Chakvetadze sparked the Crusaders to victory with a 68th-minute goal. It also helped Georgia that Sergei Maliy put through his own net just minutes later in a disastrous opening day for the Kazakhs.

Meanwhile, Latvia dominated possession against the visiting Andorrans, but they never really threatened up front. In fact, it was the visitors who came closest to scoring in the dying minutes, though to no avail.

Highlight of the Group: Chakvetadze's strike is the first ever goal of the tournament, and boy what a goal it was! Playing the ball from the left, the 19-year-old midfielder moved past a tight Kazakhstan defence to fire a rocket to the top-right corner of the net.

Key statistics: Kazakhstan conceded two goals in a span of five minutes, dooming hopes of a comeback against Vladimir Weiss' charges.

On the other hand, Latvia had 64 percent possession against Andorra, but they were wasteful in front of the net and even sent seven shots wide.

GROUP 2

It was total domination for Belarus and Luxembourg as they combined for nine goals to open their campaign with a bang.

Igor Stasevich opened the floodgates in the fourth minute and  Belarus never looked back as they routed San Marino 5-0. Meanwhile, Luxembourg grabbed the headlines of UEFA Nations League 2018 news with a dominant 4-0 victory over Moldova.

Luxembourg's Red Lions went up by one in the first half—behind a Kevin Malget goal—before finding their stride in the second half and scoring three in a span of 23 minutes.

Highlight of the Group: Stanislav Dragun was a revelation for Belarus. He scored two times, on both sides of the interval, and even hit the woodwork two times. Interestingly, both of his goals were both headers!

Key statistics: Luxembourg's four-goal victory was the biggest home win in their national team's history. Their 6-0 triumph against Afghanistan in the 1948 Olympic preliminary round at England was the only other game they scored four goals or more.


RELATED:

UEFA Nations League: League C Matchday 1 Highlights and Key Statistics


GROUP 3

The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds at SBOBET have Azerbaijan and Kosovo topping the group. In fact, in our tournament guide, Azerbaijan were tipped to come out on top in Group D3. However, both teams were dealt a blow in their campaign when they played out a goalless draw at Baku.

For Kosovo though, it ended a nine-game losing streak in competitive matches and extended their unbeaten run in all competitions—including friendlies—to five.

Faroe Islands, on the other hand, impressed with a 3-1 drubbing of Malta at home. Joan Edmundsson, Rene Joensen and Hallur Hansson were all on target for the hosts, while Michael Mifsud scored the visitors' lone goal.

Highlight of the Group: Faroe Islands and Malta staged an exciting 12-minute spell in the latter stages of the first half. Edmundsson and Joensen hit back-to-back goals in a span of seven minutes to put the hosts 2-0 up, but Misfud reduced the arrears five minutes later to keep them within striking distance at halftime.

Key statistics: The Azerbaijan-Kosovo match is Gurban Gurbanov's first competitive game in charge for Azerbaijan. He took over the team after their failed bid in the World Cup qualifiers and has since recorded a 2-2-2 win-draw-loss record in friendlies.

Meanwhile, Misfud's goal is his 41st for Malta, breaking a 20-game drought in the process.

GROUP 4

Armenia and Macedonia are in for an early battle for the no.1 spot in their group as the two European dreamers got off to a winning start.

The Armenians edged out a feisty Liechtenstein side 2-1, thanks to a 76th-minute winner from substitute Tigran Barseghyan. Armenia went ahead at the half hour through a Marcos Pizzelli opener, but Sandro Wolfinger immediately hit back to level matters for Liechtenstein and set up a tight second half.

On the other Group D4 match, Macedonia made easy work of Gibraltar with two first-half goals. They finished 2-0 to top the group, ahead of Armenia on goal difference.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan helps Armenia to seal a 2-1 win against Liechtenstein during their UEFA Nations League match
Armenia's Henrikh Mkhitaryan controls the ball against Liechtenstein's Maximilian Goppel and Sandro Wieser during their UEFA Nations League match

Highlight of the Group: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has been sensational for Arsenal this season, had a chance to play hero for his Armenia. However, he saw a second-half penalty kick saved before Liechtenstein went down to 10 men and gave Armenia the opening they needed.

Key statistics: With the victory, Macedonia are now unbeaten in eight games in all competitions. Meanwhile, Armenia secured their first win this 2018, having failed to win in their recent friendlies against Estonia, Lithuania, Malta and Moldova.

 

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:33 PM (99 days ago)            #18
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Home Sweet Home for Spain in the UEFA Nations League

Spain vs Croatia

After winning the classic at Wembley, Spain head home with high hopes of continuing their bright start in the UEFA Nations League, against a Croatia team that has surprised the football world in the past months.

La Furia Roja came from behind to beat England in the Group A4 opener, but they know World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia pose a different kind of challenge—something that may be far more difficult than the Three Lions.

Croatia have their top stars back and ready to pick up where they left off from the World Cup, and Spain certainly cannot let their guard down even though they are playing at home where they haven't lost for two years now.

Talking Points

It had been a confusing year for La Furia Roja, particularly after their disastrous World Cup stint that saw them lose their manager early and exit the competition in the Round of 16—despite the hype that they were one of the favourites to win the grandest football tournament on Earth.

Fortunately for Spain, they seem to be over that ugly phase now as they usher into a new era under manager Luis Enrique. While their victory over England was far from perfect, they showed enough to make fans believe that the national team is on their way back to elite status.

Spain were really in chaos after Julen Lopetegui's sacking just a day before the World Cup. Fernando Hierro stepped in as caretaker manager during the tournament, and as expected, the team ended up a mere shadow of themselves—bogged down by plenty of unnecessary passing.

The 2010 World Cup winners, however, were no longer like that today. With Enrique at the helm, Spain showed more pace, purpose and direction that were severely lacking two months ago.

They fell behind to a Marcus Rashford goal against England, but they stayed composed and hit back 120 seconds later to cancel out the lead. They eventually took the front seat after 30 minutes and never looked back.

Spain conceded six goals throughout the World Cup, and while Spain allowed one against England, their defence still showed much improvement. David de Gea looked like the Premier League Golden Glove winner again, while Sergio Ramos anchored the backline brilliantly as they held on and survived a late England charge.

If Spain can stay consistent and break down Croatia's defence like they did against Gareth Southgate's men, they could be in for a good time at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

Croatia, on the other hand, will be playing their first game in the competition. However, they had the best preparation for the match after pulling off a 1-1 draw with the Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal last week.

Croatia are set to disappoint UEFA Nations League 2018 odds as they battle against Spain
UEFA Men's Player of the Year Luka Modric is expected to give his all vs Spain

As usual, the player to watch for Croatia is Luka Modric. The World Cup's Golden Ball winner and UEFA Men's Player of the Year has been a revelation for the Croats, and his ability to score and create for his teammates is something that Spain will hope to neutralise.

While Modric will surely hoard the spotlight, Zlatko Dalic will also rely on the likes of Ivan Perisic, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic to deliver and help them get positive UEFA Nations League 2018 results.

History

It hasn't been long since these two nations last met each other. They were drawn in the same group in the Euro 2016 and were, in fact, the top two teams to move on to the Round of 16 of the tournament.

Croatia topped that group, beating Spain in the group phase with a 2-1 scoreline. Interestingly though, that was the Croats' only win against Spain over the past 18 years, with La Furia Roja winning three times and drawing one in their previous four meetings since 1999.

On the other hand, it should be noted that Spain haven't lost a home game since a 0-1 defeat to Georgia in a friendly in 2016. They have hosted nine fixtures since then, winning seven times and drawing the other two.

More amazingly, in that nine home games, Spain conceded just four goals while also averaging four goals per match.

Betting Tip

??

Spain vs Croatia Spain First Half 1x2 @ 2.29
September 09, 02:45 (GMT+8)

The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds on the SBOBET page put Spain as the overwhelming favourites, thanks to their recent victory. However, I think the game will be tighter than what most fans expect.

Spain clearly have the talent to win any game, but Croatia's run to the World Cup finals is no fluke and they have proven that they can step up their game when it matters.

My only concern about Croatia is their habit of conceding goals early in the match. We saw it in their games against Denmark, Russia, England and France when they allowed their opponents to score first.

I believe Spain will take advantage of Croatia's tendency to start slow to dictate the pace of the game in the first half. Besides, their playing at home too!

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:35 PM (99 days ago)            #19
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Iceland vs Belgium: Time for Roberto’s UEFA Nations League Test!

Iceland vs Belgium

It’s back to business after the World Cup for two of Europe’s most popular teams when UEFA Nations League comes to town.

The hosts welcome one of the best sides in the world to their beautiful country—population just over 300,000 and a quarter of the inhabitants of Brussels alone. But what they lack in size, the Icelanders make up for in passion and guts.

Belgium, in contrast, are a team of football wizards, not long since the best in the world. However, for Coach Roberto Martinez, the stark reality is that the Red Devils have not yet matched their potential with results.

But these two teams had markedly different performances in the run-up to this clash. Belgium outclassed Scotland with a 0-4 win while Iceland were slaughtered 6-0 by Switzerland.

Talking Points

Can Martinez turn Belgium into winners?

This Belgium team has been talked about as the Golden Generation for a while now, without winning anything. England fans who watched the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and John Terry underperform spectacularly for a decade know just how the Belgians feel.

The Red Devils have in their number some of the best players in the world, including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois to name but three. But time is running out for some, and Martinez will need to find replacements in time.

Romelu Lukaku seems to be finding his feet at Old Trafford and is becoming the immense presence he always promised, with his combination of pace and power. He bullied Burnley’s normally resolute defence last week in an explosive 45 minutes when he grabbed a brace. And he was on target again in Belgium’s destruction of Scotland.

The Red Devils have some big names ready to take on Iceland, including Courtois and Hazard who have 95 caps at the age of 27. But Manchester City star De Bruyne is one of a few out with injury, paving the way for Gent’s young midfielder Birger Verstraete and Genk’s exciting striker Leandro Trossard to be called up for the Belgium squad.

What next for the Icemen?

Iceland lose to Switzerland 6-0 in their first match in the UEFA Nations League
Iceland defence after conceding the second goal in their UEFA Nations League match against Switzerland

Iceland’s coach Heimir Hallgrimsson has resigned after seven years in charge of the team, a period in which they have become one of the most popular in the world— with a never say die attitude, a team which exceeds the sum of its parts and their fantastic thunder clapping fans.

The Iceland supporters aren’t used to their team capitulating, but they conceded four second-half goals in their drubbing at the hands of Switzerland. Iceland, nonetheless, remain a team full of ambition and pride and have retained a humility which gets the neutrals on its side.

A draw with Argentina in Russia was beyond the fans’ wildest dreams, but a powerful Nigeria side and the highly talented Croatia proved too strong for their team.

Halgrimsson’s departure has opened the door for former Sweden boss Erik Hamren, who has a couple of key players missing in his first competitive match on home soil. Skipper Aron Gunnarsson and skilful winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson are both injured.

Gylfi Sigurdsson and Iceland to face Belgium in their second match in the UEFA Nations League
Gylfi Sigurdsson in action during the UEFA Nations League match between Iceland and Switzerland

But the jewel in Iceland’s crown, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, is available. His ability to pull the strings in midfield and turn a game with a moment of individual brilliance always gives the Iceland faithful hope.

If given the right avenue, Sigurdsson can certainly be a regular fixture in the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights.

History

The previous matchups between the two nations have all gone in the Red Devils’ favour, the last being a 3-1 win in 2014 when Lukaku climbed off the bench to score. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar outcome next week.

The form guide for these two teams couldn’t be more contrasting. Belgium have won six of the last seven, the only loss being the narrow semi-final defeat to France at the World Cup 2018. Meanwhile, Iceland have lost five and drawn two over the same period.

Betting Tip

??

Iceland vs Belgium Over 2.50 @ 1.86
September 12, 02:45 (GMT+8)

The UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds pitch the Red Devils as strong favourites at 1.35, the draw at 4.70 and Iceland at 8.00. And here at SBOBET, we can see a two-goal margin, with Belgium at 2.08 to win with a -1.50 handicap and Hamren’s men at 1.84 with that start.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:38 PM (99 days ago)            #20
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UEFA Nations League: Allez Les Bleus!

France 2-1 Netherlands

World Champions France made a triumphant return to Paris, beating the Netherlands in their first competitive match on home soil since the World Cup.

It was a dominant display against an improving Netherlands, and the fine margin of victory was testament to the visitors’ spirited performance. France could have been out of sight by half time after Kylian Mbappe’s opener, but the Dutch hung on and equalised through Ryan Babel before Olivier Giroud won the points.

And if you had any doubt the UEFA Nations League 2018 was to be a success then the 80,000 fans who packed into the Stade de France gave you the answer, as did a well fought and entertaining game.

The Netherlands have more optimism under Ronald Koeman than they have dared to show in the last four miserable years, and despite losing tonight they can take heart.

Highlights of the game

Netherlands suffers negative UEFA Nations League 2018 results after visiting France
Ryan Babel's equaliser came on second half came up short against France

Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen knew he was in for a serious challenge in Paris; and he was called into action in the first minute when Paul Pogba found Kylian Mbappe on the right and the PSG striker shot from a tight angle, but Cillessen spread himself to save.

Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe were proving to be a real handful for the Netherlands defence, and they combined on 11 minutes for Mbappe to test Cillessen again. But there was nothing the keeper could do three minutes later when France attacked with pace and Blaise Matuidi crossed for Mbappe to shoot home from close range.

Memphis Depay scored twice in the Netherland’s comeback win against Peru last week, but coming up against the world class defenders Samuel Umtiti of Barcelona and Raphael Varane of Real Madrid was a different prospect. And the Lyon striker didn’t have a sniff in the first half as France dominated.

Mbappe, Umtiti and Olivier Giroud all had attempts saved and Koeman was pleased to get his team in for the half time talk, still in the game at 1-0.

The Netherlands had a good period of possession early in the second half, Daley Blind probing down the left flank and winning a corner, but the visitors were energetic without sparkling. Georginio Wiljnaldum had a chance from close range but his effort flew past the left hand post.

But then the Netherlands’ efforts were rewarded, on 67 minutes, when Kenny Tete crossed and Ryan Babel slotted low into the corner.

That seemed to spark the Dutch and Depay came close soon after, but they just couldn’t capitalise on their goal, or hang on to parity for long. Benjamin Mendy crossed for Olivier Giroud in the centre of the box, and the Chelsea striker fired into the bottom right corner to make it 2-1.

Depay tried his luck from distance and Ruud Vormer had an attempt saved as the minutes ticked away.

Key statistics

After its World Cup success France heads the FIFA rankings with the Netherlands in 17th, only two behind Germany after Joachim Low’s team plummeted 14 places.

Les Bleus were joint favourites to win the World Cup in Russia and the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds will tell a similar story, particularly after opening this campaign with a draw in Germany and a home win against the Netherlands

France has now won 14 of the 27 meetings between the two sides and the last five in a row. This is only the second game the Dutch have lost since Koeman took over, the first against World Cup semi-finalists England. And they had a good share of this game, with 46 per cent possession and seven shots to France’s 15.

But with eight shots on target to the Netherlands’ two, France had the cutting edge and Jasper Cillessen had a busy night.

What’s next?

UEFA Nations League 2018 watched as Kylian Mbappe lead France in the first half vs Netherlands
Kylian Mbappe celebrates goal against Netherlands

So, after two UEFA Nations League 2018 results in Group A1, France drew with Germany last week, the table is beginning to take shape. Les Bleus are in good shape, top of the group, but the Netherlands can still make an impact if they continue to improve under Koeman.

Les Blues have a warm up against Iceland in October, before playing the return against Germany. The Netherlands will host Low’s team first, before continuing to test themselves against the very best with a friendly against Roberto Martinez’ Belgium. On this showing, they will give both a good game.

You can keep up with all the latest news, and track the odds right here at SBOBET as the tournament unfolds.

 

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:41 PM (99 days ago)            #21
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UEFA Nations League: Eriksen Delivers Danish Dose of Reality

Denmark 2-0 Wales

There’s a buzz about Welsh football right now.

And whatever the outcome was going to be in this UEFA Nations League clash in Aarhus, fans and players will remain optimistic.

It’s only four games into the Ryan Giggs era but the footballing legend has a nation starting to smile smiling again.

Two years after the joy of reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, and eight months after hard-core fans were strongly opposed to his appointment (including voicing plenty of myths), there is a spring back in the step of the Dragons with exciting football and decent results.

This, however, was going to be a real test.

Highlights of the game

SBOBET followers will know Denmark have already proved they can live with the world’s best, drawing with both World Champions France and runners-up Croatia this summer.

And after the ‘commercial row’ between the Danish FA and players’ union - which is still in the process of being resolved – which saw a side full of students, Futsal players and semi-professionals fielded in midweek, they were back to full strength.

Welsh preparations were hardly helped when their flight to Denmark was delayed leading a pre-match press conference to be cancelled.

Wales took that minor disruption in their stride – further proof that the new set up has retained a firm focus on the job in hand - results.

Giggs is his own man as he has already proved by bringing his own young guns with his focus on the future as some of the stalwarts of the Chris Coleman regime (who did a fine job) were benched and the squad rejuvenated by young, hungry talent.

Football never stands still and the inclusion of the likes of Ethan Ampadu, Connor Roberts, Chris Mepham and David Brooks shows Giggs will not either.

They all featured in Denmark (two starters, two from the subs bench) alongside the current day stars of the national team, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey (skipper under the leadership of the late Gary Speed and Coleman) – Bale was also awarded the captaincy after regular skipper Ashley Williams travelled to Scandinavia but was not included in the 23-man squad to face the Danes.

However, Giggs is well aware of the important balance of youth and experience and the ‘old guard’ of James Chester and Chris Gunter were recruited back into the starting line-up, acknowledgement from Giggs this was his toughest assignment to date.

It so proved that, while these sides were well matched for long spells, a world-class talent in the home side proved the difference.

A low finish just after the half-hour from Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen – given too much time and space - fired them in front before he added a second from the spot after the luckless Ampadu was adjudged to have handled in the box.

Eriksen’s decisive contribution means he has now been involved in 20 goals in his past 18 appearances for the national team (15 goals and five assists).

UEFA Nations League odds will favour Denmark to win their group if Eriksen continues in this vein.

Wales did have their moments. Ramsey drilled the ball over Kasper Schmeichel’s bar in the early stages and the Danish number one then had to leap on the ball with Roberts waiting to pounce from Ampadu’s deflected attempt.

Even Bale was off-song, firing wide after racing through on goal.

It couldn’t last as Eriksen’s first-time shot from a Henrik Dalsgaard cross went in off the post.

Wayne Hennessy denied the home side a second goal with a fine save to keep out PioneSisto’s volley but Eriksen scored the match-clinching second from the spot and the game was won.

Both keepers were called into action in the closing stages but there were no further goals and Wales had suffered their first competitive defeat of the Giggs era against streetwise opponents.

Ryan Giggs' Wales suffers 2-0 defeat to Denmark in the UEFA Nations League
Wales manager Ryan Giggs at the touchline during their match against Denmark

Key statistics

In normal time, aside from the defeat of their ‘stand-in’ side in midweek, Denmark have now gone nine games unbeaten.

They have also kept seven clean sheets in their last nine home games.

Bale has 11 goals in his last 12 outings for both Wales and Real Madrid.

Wales have only lost twice away from home in two years.

Since Mark Hughes won in Belarus in 1999, the subsequent five Welsh managers have lost their first competitive away game.

What’s next?

It’s a friendly against Austria next for the Danes (October 16).

After this – and their superb start to the tournament against a depleted Ireland - Wales meet Spain at the Millennium Stadium before hoping to create more UEFA Nations League highlights with the return trip to Dublin.

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11-Sep 2018 Tuesday @ 4:48 PM (99 days ago)            #22
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UEFA Nations League: Silva Reminds Italy of His Qualities

Portugal 1-0 Italy

So the end of the first tranche of UEFA Nations League football games.

The reigning European champions, minus the best player in the world, against the four-time world champions.

No wonder some SBOBET followers were licking their lips in anticipation at what may have seemed an ordinary Monday night/Tuesday morning (wherever you are).

Ultimately it was as close as many predicted but only in the scoreline.

The hosts were much the better side and fully deserved their triumph.

Highlights of the game

UEFA Nations League odds may have changed slightly when the Italian team was announced – new manager Roberto Mancini throwing a few surprises with Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile named in the starting line-up, along with Federico Chiesa and debutant Manuel Lazzari from SPAL.

It was one of nine changes for the visitors in the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, three days after a 1-1 draw with Poland.

Indeed, only goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and midfielder Jorginho remained from that match.

The main absentee for the hosts was, of course, star man and indeed the Italian league’s very own poster boy Cristiano Ronaldo who asked not to be included so he can focus on training with his new club, Juventus.

Raphael Guerreiro and Rony Lops were ruled out of the Portugal squad, the latter at the 11th hour, through injury.

Just before the match, UEFA revealed it was opening disciplinary proceedings against Poland for racist chanting during last week’s encounter.

There was no such problem thankfully in this one.

In fact, it was fairly quiet at times inside the Estadio da Luz. This was because some home supporters stayed away as part of an ongoing protest between the Portuguese FA and the club side Benfica.

Perhaps, in the end, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise the match-winner was someone who used to play their trade in Italy but where his career never really took off.

Former Milan forward Andre Silva – who moved to Sevilla this summer after failing to live up to this £35 million price tag from Porto – netted the solitary goal three minutes after the break.

Bruma dispossessed Domenico Criscito to spark a breakaway and, from his pass, Silva managed to control the ball and curl the ball beyond Donnarumma, last season his club team-mate.

It was a goal the possession-dominating home side deserved and they had already gone closest through William Carvalho, a Mario Rui strike - deflected onto the crossbar by former Benfica man Bryan Cristantewith Donnarumma helpless - and Bernardo Silva whose shot was cleared off the line by Alessio Romagnoli.

Italy created little and, but for Donnarumma, substitute Renato Sanches–  who spent last season on loan with Swansea – would have added a second.

Portugal defender Pepe, earning his 101st cap and skipper in Ronaldo’s absence, was perhaps fortunate to escape with just a caution for an injury-time challenge on Chiesa, and when Zaza headed the resulting free-kick wide, Italy’s chance of a leveller was gone.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini reacts at the touchline during their match against Portugal
Roberto Mancini instructs his players at the touchline during the match between Italy and Portugal

Food for thought for Mancini who admitted post-match that his side’s main problem is not scoring enough goals.

There is much work to be done for the Azzurri or does Mancini think this new competition is an ideal time for experiments?

Key statistics

This was the first time in two decades that the Italy XI contained no players from Juventus in a competitive international. The last occasion was in June 1998, a 3-0 victory over Cameroon at the World Cup in France.

The only Juventus player on the pitch was Portugal full-back Joao Cancelo.

Italy have now won only once in their last nine matches (that came against Saudi Arabia in a 2-1 friendly success in May).

This was the first time the nations had met in a competitive match since a qualifying encounter for the 1994 World Cup, which the Azzurri won. They went onto the reach the tournament final, losing to Brazil in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

They met in a friendly in Geneva in June 2015, Eder giving Portugal a 1-0 victory which ended a run of one 0-0 draw and 10 defeats against Italy. They’ve now defeated them twice in succession after a friendly win for Portugal over Italy in 2015.

What’s next?

No doubt more UEFA Nations League highlights await.

Portugal travel to Poland on October 11 before facing Scotland at Hampden Park on October 14 – two games in around 72 hours.

Italy also face Poland in the tournament on October 14, three days after hosting Ukraine in a friendly.

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12-Sep 2018 Wednesday @ 6:32 PM (97 days ago)            #23
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UEFA Nations League Spain vs Croatia: Feel the Fury of the Red!

Spain 6-0 Croatia

Many were looking forward to the kind of fireworks UEFA Nations League: Spain vs Croatia will bring to the league. The Vatreni are still at a high after making history last summer. They also have the UEFA Player of the Year in their ranks. Meanwhile, Spain were trying to forget the misery of Russia and come out of their first two games running.

This game had all the hallmarks of an instant classic where two incredible sides would be playing toe to toe. Spain vs Croatia odds were rather tight in the lead-up to the match.

However, what the crowd witnessed was a one-sided marauding handed out by La Roja. Croatia looked nowhere the imposing team that terrorised Argentina and England in the summer.

This is the fury of the Spanish Red, and brilliant plays by Marco Asensio and friends dominate Spain vs Croatia highlights! Everyone better beware Luis Enrique's side from here on out!

Highlights of the game

The first ten minutes of the match saw the ball go from end to end as both nations tried to get the early advantage. The runners-up of the 2018 World Cup were well inside Spain's half of the pitch and were fighting for possession. Ivan Rakitic got a loose ball just outside the danger zone in the sixth minute and fired a shot that flew wide of the right post.

It only took two minutes for Spain to fire back a warning shot to the Croats.  Daniel Carvajal was found on the right side of the pitch and made a good inside pass to the goal. A Croatian shirt was able to get to the ball first and kicked it away for a corner they were able to contain easily.

The first real chance of the game came in the fourteenth minute. Mateo Kovacic handled a great long ball dangerously close to goal. He made a rather sloppy pass to Ivan Santini, and the Anderlecht forward made a dangerous shot attempt from three yards. Unfortunately for the visitors, the ball shot just wide of the goal mouth.

Bad news hit Croatia and Inter fans as Sime Vrsaljko had to come off the game due to an injury. Croatia's misfortunes doubled when La Furia Roja struck first in the 24th minute. Carvajal fired a cross close to the goal. A rushing Saul jumped like a Salmon to receive the ball and head it into the goal. There was nothing Kalinic could do about it.

Croatia tried to get even, but Spain just dominated possession and were constantly making attacks. Spain then secured their foothold into the game when Marco Asensio got on form and wreaked havoc on Kalinic's keeping stats.

UEFA Nations League Spain vs Croatia: Marco Asensio shines brightest as La Roja defeat the Blazers 6-0
Spain forward Marco Asensio celebrates with team mates after scoring against Croatia in the UEFA Nations League

A myriad of passes saw the Real Madrid man open in the middle of the pitch in the 33rd minute. He unleashed a strong shot from distance to catch the Gent keeper off guard. Three minutes later, he found space on the right wing, made a cut inside, and fired a long shot from 20 yards that hit the crossbar and hit Kalinic's head before hitting the Croatian net.

We can be more than sure that Zlatko Dalic encouraged his team to perform better during the half-time break, but whatever positive mood they have was squashed as Rodrigo converted the fourth goal for Spain. Asensio made a beautiful through pass to allow Rodrigo all the time in the world to score. The Brazil-born striker aimed the shot through Kalinic's legs to humiliate the Gent stopper even further.

The scoring rampage doesn't stop there as the captain joined in on the scoring. He jumped high to receive a 57th-minute corner and head the ball to the goal. Words cannot justify the hopelessness painted among the faces of the Croatian backline.

At this point in the game, many Croatian fans watching from their homes have already turned off their TVs. That was probably a good decision as Isco scored a brilliant sixth goal on 70 minutes from the middle of the penalty box. The ball flew right up to the top bins, and Kalinic had no chance of saving that shot.

Rodrigo, Isco, and Thiago Alcantara had their cracks at the goal, but the Croatian defence was somehow able to get their acts together. The game ended after three minutes of additional time, and Spain walked out of the Estadio Manuel Martinez as very happy winners.

Key statistics

Marco Asensio has frustrated the fans with his inconsistent play with the national team, but the 22-year-old's first international goal is one to remember. He also has a hat-trick of assists to boast of, all of which were supplied in the second half of the game.

Danijel Subasic's retirement from international football has left a gaping hole in between the sticks for the Vatreni, and his absence was sorely missed by Dalic. Kalinic did everything he could to stem the tide, but he could barely contain the seven shots on goal made by La Roja.

Luka Modric, who was supposed to dominate the game with his presence, was neutralised by Enrique and was a non-factor the entire match. He had made zero key passes and ended the game with a poor 5.93 rating.

The last time Spain scored more than five goals was in a friendly against Argentina in March where La Roja had a 6-1 goal fiesta.

What's next?

UEFA Nations League Spain vs Croatia: The Blazers' Luka Modric disappointed with the 6-0 defeat to La Roja
Croatia midfielder Luka Modric reacts after his side concede the second goal against Spain

Spain will be full of confidence when they face Wales in October. The Dragons were humbled by Denmark in their last time out, and Ryan Giggs can expect an equally tough match against Luis Enrique's lads.

Meanwhile, Croatia will be picking up the pieces as they host England next month. The Three Lions will be dangerous at the attack, and they cannot afford any more slip-ups defensively. Modric will also have to step up his game if he wants to improve his nation's chances.

SBOBET will surely keep an eye on how these two teams will play their subsequent matches.

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12-Sep 2018 Wednesday @ 6:34 PM (97 days ago)            #24
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UEFA Nations League: Red Devils Too Hot for Icemen

Iceland 0-3 Belgium

Belgium blew Iceland away in tonight’s UEFA Nations League in Reykjavik thanks to two goals from Romelu Lukaku and a penalty converted by Eden Hazard.

Roberto Martinez has a wealth of talent at his disposal, so Iceland vs Belgium predictions were very much in favour of a Red Devils victory. And that's how it turned out. The visitors were far too good for a spirited but depleted Iceland side, dominating for long periods of the game and looking every bit serious contenders for Euro 2020.

Highlights of the game

Belgium had just flown up to Iceland after having swept Scotland aside 0-4 in a nice warm-up at the weekend, but they expected a tougher challenge against Iceland, particularly after their hosts had been uncharacteristically hammered by Switzerland.

They did face a more resolute and well-organised team, but in the end were simply too good. It just took a while to for them to get going, and then there was no stopping the Red Devils.

As the Viking thunderclap chants reverberated around the Laugardalsvollur Stadium, Iceland had the best chance of the opening exchanges. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson raided down the right wing and crossed low for Gylfi Sigurdsson, but the Everton man’s shot skidded wide.

Slowly but surely, Belgium started to find their rhythm and worked out that they’d profit against this Iceland side by getting wide and crossing into the danger areas. The in-form Romelu Lukaku was just about to head a cross home, but he was pole-axed by Birkir Bjarnason and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Iceland failed to stop the Belgians' fiery attack during their UEFA Nations league clash
Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson saves a penalty during their World Cup 2018 match against Argentina

Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson famously saved a penalty against Argentina in the World Cup, but Eden Hazard managed to do here what Leo Messi failed to do in Russia and beat the Qarabag stopper with a cool finish.

And minutes later, one became two when Dries Mertens whipped in a cross for Vincent Kompany. Though Halldorsson got in the way of the header, Lukaku picked up the rebound to poke the ball just over the line from close range.

As Iceland tried to get back into the game, Belgium played some keep-ball to go in 2-0 up at the halftime break.

The early stages of the second half didn’t provide much respite for Iceland as the Red Devils passed the ball around with ease. Thomas Meunier shot just wide on 58 minutes and then the PSG man came closer five minutes later when he took a pass from Lukaku. This time, his shot came back off the post.

Iceland were still in the game, just, and Gylfi Sigurdsson tried to inspire a comeback, unleashing a shot towards the top-left corner which Thibaut Courtois saved.

But that was just a brief interruption to Belgium’s dominance. Meunier came close again, and a third goal looked on the cards. When it came on 81 minutes, it was from the same source as the second, with Mertens supplying Lukaku, and the Manchester United striker fired low and true into the corner.

Key statistics

Our pre-match SBOBET tips backed a game with over 2.5 goals and the handicap spread suggested a two-goal margin. Iceland put up a fight but, in this form, Belgium are an irresistible force.

After a bright start from the hosts, Belgium took control of the first half, finishing with 72 per cent possession and eight shots to two. Iceland doubled their tally to four by the final whistle but Belgium ramped up the pressure in the second half, with 20 shots in total.

That’s seven wins in eight now for Belgium, but none in eight for Erik Hamren’s Iceland.

What’s next?

In recent years, Iceland has developed a talent for pulling off surprise results against elevated opposition. But the magic seems to have temporarily left them. After the first round of UEFA Nations League 2018 results in Group A2, they are rock bottom.

When things aren’t quite going for you, a win can work wonders. But the Icemen have picked France away as their next challenge. Oh well; you have to test yourself if you want to improve. And if they do improve, they may be in with a chance of exacting revenge on Switzerland back home in Iceland. Erik Hamren will hope to have some key players back from injury.

It’s all looking bright for Belgium, though, and Roberto Martinez’ team welcomes Switzerland at home in October before playing an improving Netherlands in a friendly.

 

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12-Sep 2018 Wednesday @ 6:36 PM (97 days ago)            #25
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UEFA Nations League: Home is Where the Win is!

UEFA Nations League - League C

It's home sweet home for the minnows in League C of the UEFA Nations League.

Following their away trip in the opener of the newly created tournament, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Hungary and Montenegro all impressed in their return home for Matchday 2. Scotland, playing for the first time, also opened their campaign in style with a clinical win on their turf.

Serbia would rue the fact that they failed to get all three points in front of their home fans, but they didn't fail to entertain after leading twice in their meeting with Romania.

Overall, six of the seven League C fixtures this week saw the home team win, while one ended in a draw.

GROUP 1

Albania had high hopes in this game following their spirited performance against Israel last week, but Scotland proved to be too good for them as Alex Mcleish's side put on an energetic display to win two goals to nothing.

Although the Scots had to wait until the second half for Steven Naismith to find the back of the net, they are surely happy with the victory as they put themselves in a good position to finish on top and earn promotion.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish during his side's UEFA Nations League match against Albania
Scotland manager Alex McLeish gives instructions to his squad during their UEFA Nations League clash with Albania

Highlight of the Group: Naismith was involved in both of Scotland's goals in the second half. His 47th-minute header was deflected into the net by Albania's Berat Xhimshiti and was counted as an own goal, but Naismith wasn't going to be stopped as he fired home from a corner a few moments after the hour.

Key statistics: Scotland dominated possession and were unlucky not to score more from set pieces. They had almost 60 percent possession and had eight corner kicks, one of which led to their second goal.

On the other hand, it's worth noting that the victory is only Scotland's second win this 2018 and ended a run of three straight defeats.

GROUP 2

Finland weren't expected to have a bright start to their Nations League campaign, with pre-tournament odds at SBOBET favouring Greece and Hungary instead. Nonetheless, the Finns surpassed expectations as they beat Estonia 1-0 to stay unbeaten.

Teemu Pukki went on target again for the hosts, scoring 12 minutes after kickoff. That goal was enough for Finland as they withstood a late Estonia charge to come out with the win.

Meanwhile, Hungary bounced back from their opening day defeat and took down Greece with an exciting three-goal first half. Laszlo Kleinheisler led Hungary to a 2-1 victory, breaking the deadlock after the two teams exchanged two quick goals earlier in the period.

Highlight of the Group: With the Estonia defence still settling, Finland quickly took advantage and found an opening to score. Pyry Soiri cut from the left and saw an unmarked Pukki charging forward. Soiri sent a soft pass to Pukki, and the Norwich City forward swiftly converted from close range.

Key statistics: Pukki has now scored two goals in as many games for Finland, having also hit the winner in their 1-0 victory over Hungary last week. It's also a second clean sheet for Markku Kanerva's men.

GROUP 3

After their humbling loss in Matchday 1 last week, Cyprus made the most of their home-court advantage to overcome a one-goal deficit and get their first win. Bulgaria, meanwhile, made it two-for-two after a convincing display against Norway.

Slovenia went ahead of Cyprus early in the second half with a Robert Beric header, but Pieros Sotiriou cancelled it out on 69 minutes to level matters. The home team was then gifted another goal when Petar Stojanovic accidentally put through his own net.

On the other Group C3 match, Radoslav Vasilev scored the only goal of the game as the Bulgarians punished the Norwegians for their lack of clinical finishing.

Highlight of the group: Slovenia almost got their first points of the tournament, but Stojanovic's own goal in the closing stages doomed them and gave them little time to stage a comeback. The 22-year-old defender headed the ball to the Slovenia net on 89 minutes from a Charis Kyriakou free-kick.

Key statistics: Cyprus had a hard time against Slovenia but the numbers show they were always in the front foot. They had four shots on target and actually had the lion share of the ball (55 percent).

For Bulgaria, they were lucky to win after seeing Norway control the game with eight shots on target and 12 corners. Now, based on the latest UEFA Nations League 2018 results, the Bulgarians have six points and are well on pace to top the group.

GROUP 4

Serbia are proving that they are the team to beat in Group C4; however, Montenegro are making their case too and are slowly swinging the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds in their favour.

The Serbs were a little unfortunate not to get out with a win at home against Romania, having taken the lead two times. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored on both sides of the interval, but Romania battled back twice behind Nicolae Stanciu and George Tucudean to make it 2-2 and share the spoils.

Stefan Savic delights in Montenegro's recent UEFA Nations League 2018 results
Defender Stefan Savic celebrates after scoring Montenegro's first goal against Lithuania

Montenegro, for their part, put on a stunning display as two quick-fire goals in the first half paved the way to an easy 2-0 victory over Lithuania.

Highlight of the Group: The Brave Falcons of Montenegro needed less than 120 seconds to score their two goals in the first half. Stefan Savic converted from the spot on 34 minutes and Marko Jankovic quickly followed, sending the ball to the far post off a Zarko Tomasevic assist.

Key statistics: Serbia and Montenegro are now tied in the league rankings with four points each. The latter, however, is slightly ahead on goal difference after keeping their second clean sheet of the competition.

 

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13-Sep 2018 Thursday @ 12:03 PM (97 days ago)            #26
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Winning Football Shines in the UEFA Nations League

UEFA Nations League - League D

It's really hard for any football supporter to find football outside of the most popular footballing nations in Europe as attractive. Considering the fact that there aren't a lot of football stars coming from the lowest tier of the UEFA Nations League, it would be understandable if not a lot of fans would give the matches being played in the inaugural run of this competition the time of day.

However, fans of the game know that memorable moments will emerge as long as there is football played on the pitch. The match day of the tournament has already produced impressive UEFA Nations League 2018 results as some nations showcased their knack for winning games.

It will be a while before the league resumes as the players return to their clubs, so we shouldn't hold back and celebrate the beautiful international football brought about by the nations in League D.

Group 1

Georgia stays on top of UEFA Nations League D Group 1
Giorgi Chakvetadze's dive has been one of highlights in Georgia's win vs Latvia

Georgia and their loyal supporters are smiling from ear to ear as they walk away from Day 2 as the clear leaders and heavy favourites to climb out of League D and have a better shot at Euro qualification. They followed up their strong 0-2 opening win against Kazakhstan with a fantastic home win against Latvia.

The hosts picked up the pace from their strong finish against Kazakhstan and kept on pounding their opponents on all aspects of the game. While Vladislavs Gutkovskis and Latvia put on an admirable stand away from home, Tomike Okriashvili was able to break through on the 77th minute with a well-taken spot-kick.

Meanwhile, Andorra and Kazakhstan put on an entertaining show as they played out a draw. The match was a physical affair that saw Serikzan Muzhikov walk off the pitch with two yellow cards. Kazakhstan was almost able to get away with a win from Yuri Logvinenko's header, but Jordi Alaez's superb equaliser late in the match got the entire team on their feet to celebrate the draw.

Highlight of the group: Vtalijs Maksimenko's foul against Giorgi Chakvetadze is a matter of contention among the fans of both nations. The supporters of the 11 Wolves will cry that the Gent midfielder dove, while the supporters of the Crusaders will say that the penalty was a reward for their dominance on the pitch.

Key statistics: Kazakhstan will feel that they were robbed after this match. They had 72% of possession, made 13 goal attempts and had 11 corner attempts. Muzhikov's red card definitely hurt their chances of securing the three points.

Group 2

SBOBET fans witness as Armenia failed to secure their second consecutive win
Henrikh Mkhitaryan came up short as Macedonia defeated Armenia

Group B had great football games and made a lot of SBOBET punters happy with their results.

Luxembourg built on their impressive triumph over Moldova with a 0-3 thrashing of San Marino. Maxime Chanot, Aurelien Joachim, and Daniel Sinani all fired impressive goals against an overrun San Marino defence that was barely able to contain their attacks.

Belarus were expected to mow Moldova over after crushing San Marino in their opener. However, Moldova put on an admirable effort against Belarus' constant attacks and walked away with an all-important point to put them on the board.

Highlight of the group: There are three impressive goals to choose from, but Joachim's goal is easily the most impressive of the three. He made a first-time shot at the goal with a defender on his back and the keeper coming out of his line to narrow his options.

Key statistics: This group saw the guests overwhelm their hosts in dominant fashion. Both Belarus and Luxemburg attempted more than 15 shots on their hosts. However, Belarus were the more wasteful side of the two, only having two of those on target.

Group 3

Malta are one of the lowest-ranked nations in the FIFA World rankings, but their 1-1 draw against Azerbaijan have given the Falcons some hope. This especially true after the team ranked 90th in the world were overwhelmed in a 3-1 defeat against the Faroe Islands. All of the goalscoring action happened in the first half: Andrei Agius converted a penalty to put Malta ahead while Tamkin Khalilzade's superb equaliser secured the draw.

Kosovo made history as they upset the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds and defeated the Faroe Islands in very outstanding fashion. Not much happened until the second half, but Arber Zeneli and Atdhe Nuhiu scored impressive goals to put the nation of their opponents.

Highlight of the group: Zeneli's goal was nothing short of sublime. The left winger shook his marker loose with a couple of good moves inside the box before unleashing a curling effort past Gunnar Nielsen.

Key statistics: This win is Kosovo's first victory in a competitive international, and their manner of victory is very convincing. They had 67% of possession, made 13 shot attempts and had 17 free kicks. They didn't allow the Faroe Islands to play like they did against Malta.

Group 4

Macedonia's reign at the top of League D's Group 4 had a major upgrade after beating Armenia 2-0 at home. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was unable to do anything while Egzijan Alioski and Goran Pandev scored for Macedonia.

Meanwhile, Liechtenstein didn't give Gibraltar any chance as the hosts also scored 2-0 to keep the British territory scoreless to end the first two rounds of the competition. Dennis Salanovic and Sandro Wieser bagged superb goals to place them just behind Macedonia in the rankings.

Highlight of the group: Armenia had a chance to equalise before Macedonia sealed the game. Hovhannes Hambardzumyan capitalised on a defender's mistake and was positioned dangerously in the penalty box. He made a cross for Tigran Barseghyan to tap in, but the Vardar midfielder didn't reach the ball in time.

Key statistics: Liechtenstein may have won the game, but Gibraltar made sure that they earned their W. Benjamin Buchel had to make three saves while the backline had to make 15 fouls and get three yellow cards to keep Gibraltar away.

 

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11-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 12:27 PM (69 days ago)            #27
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UEFA Nations League: Back to Kaliningrad

Russia vs Sweden

It was one of the big venues at Russia 2018, hosting some of the world’s finest teams including Spain, England, Belgium and Croatia. And now, we’re back to Kaliningrad this week for the UEFA Nations League.

This may not look like the most glamorous of international games, but remember, these are two World Cup quarter-finalists we are talking about. And the world of football in Russia is barely recognisable from the product pre-2018, which was characterised by drudgery on the pitch and menace off it. But a World Cup in which the nation got behind a team which over-achieved momentously has made all the difference.

Sweden had an excellent World Cup, too. The new dawn of Swedish football, post-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, saw Janne Andersson’s side reach the quarter-finals to match their hosts.

These are early days in Europe’s newest international competition, but Russia have made the better start in SBOBET Nations League Group B2. Both teams have played Turkey; but while Stanislav Cherchesov’s team won, the Swedes suffered a reverse on home soil.

Talking Points

Sweden aims to upset SBOBET Nations League predictions and win against Russia
Robin Olsen is expected to do great for Sweden after having a superb World Cup

Russia have certainly enjoyed a re-birth during and following World Cup 2018, seemingly transformed from a pedestrian and limited side to a dangerous attacking force. Who can forget the curtain-raising 5-0 destruction of Saudi Arabia with the previously little known Denis Cheryshev scoring a fantastic double?

And that feat was only surpassed by Russia’s penalty shoot-out win against Spain, dumping one of the pre-tournament favourites out in the knockout stage.

He still doesn’t have household names to call on, but Cherchesov has developed his side into a more ambitious group of players, hammering the Czech Republic 5-1 immediately after their triumph against Turkey. Artem Dzyuba, the 6ft-5in giant, became a folk hero at the World Cup. Along with Cheryshev, he was on target against Turkey in the Nations League opener. And then, Aleksei Ionov scored twice in the September destruction of the Czech Republic.

So Andersson’s defence is sure to come under some scrutiny on Thursday night. Having led 2-0 against Turkey last month, two goals in the dying minutes turned victory to defeat in the blink of an eye. That level of generosity simply isn’t what we have come to expect from the Swedes. Goalkeeper Robin Olsen had a superb World Cup which earned him a high-profile move to Serie A giants Roma. And Manchester United’s centre-back Victor Lindelof seems to be gaining confidence.

Emil Forsberg scored the goal in a tight game against Switzerland to fire the plucky Swedes into the quarter-finals at World Cup 2018, where a clash with England’s young guns proved to be a step too far. And while compact play and discipline have always been a characteristic of Sweden’s team, Marcus Berg up front is a big presence alongside Forsberg, so they, too, carry a goal threat.

This looks like a well-matched game to me, and it could go either way, so make sure you keep up with the UEFA Nations League 2018 updates right here at SBOBET.

History

Reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup was the best result either team has had in over half a century, so both have reasons to be cheerful. But the visitors arrive on the back of a three-match losing run, starting with that World Cup quarter-final defeat to England, while Russia have those two big September wins fresh in the memory.

Russia have had the better of recent meetings too, winning two and drawing two. While the visitors are 31 places above their hosts in the FIFA rankings at 15th, home advantage and a growing momentum give Russia the edge, according to the latest UEFA Nations League 2018 odds.

Neither team has drawn in the last seven games with Russia winning five and losing two, while Sweden have won three and lost four.

Betting Tip

??

Russia vs Sweden Draw @ 3.20
October 12 03:45 (GMT + 8)

So I’m going for a well-fought draw! Home side Russia are favourites to win at 2.10, with Sweden at 3.40. While I can see both sides scoring, I don’t anticipate either running away with the game. The hosts carry the more potent attacking threat but, to counter that, Olsen is a fine keeper behind a well-organised Sweden defence.

With Sweden at 1.82 to win with a +0.50 start and Russia at 2.11 with that handicap. If there is a positive result either way, then it’s more than likely to be by a single goal.

And if not, then 1-1 at 5.40 looks good to me.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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11-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 12:31 PM (69 days ago)            #28
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Ronaldo-Less Portugal and Poland Clash in UEFA Nations League Tie

Poland vs Portugal

The upcoming duel between the defending European champions and one of the stronger footballing nations might not have the star power that it is supposed to have: one of the sport's biggest stars will be staying in Italy as the Seleccao das Quinas make the trip to Stadion Slaski.

While the lack of manpower may put Portugal at a disadvantage in this UEFA Nations League contest, that doesn't mean that this match will not have its own share of action and drama. Both sides have quality players thriving in some of the best leagues in European football suiting up. Moreover, a certain star for a struggling Bavarian team will be looking to correct his form here.

There are still UEFA Nations League news of managers expressing their discontent with the tournament, but there's one thing we can all be sure of: these two nations will bring their A-Game to rattle the current hegemony in Group 3.

Talking Points

Portugal leaves Cristiano Ronaldo off the national team to play Poland in UEFA Nations League
Cristiano Ronaldo will not play for Portugal until at least March 2019

The biggest story in this game's run-up is the absence of Portugal's biggest talisman.

Cristiano Ronaldo is once again not called up by Fernando Santos and will be staying in Italy while Portugal will play Poland and Scotland in the international break. The manager also revealed that he will not call the striker up during the November break as well in order to let the Juventus star focus on the off-pitch controversies that are currently surrounding him.

Of course, not having Ronaldo around is a huge loss for Portugal's attacking power. The 33-year-old might have slowed down a bit -- he has only scored four goals in eight Serie A appearances for the Old Lady -- but his importance as Portugal's talisman and premier attacking option cannot be emphasised enough.

Fortunately, Portugal have plenty of quality footballers to help them put on a strong fight against Poland. If Fernando Santos builds his squad right, the Seleccao will have a great chance of putting causing an upset against Poland and firmly establish their place at the top of their group.

I think Andre Silva will be the most important man for this Ronaldo-less Portugal squad's success. He made the only goal scored during their victory against Italy. Moreover, the 22-year-old is garnering attention from all over La Liga with his spectacular attacking prowess: he has scored seven goals in eight appearances for Sevilla.

Moreover, there are other top players ready to step up for Portugal. Rui Patricio, Pepe, William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva and Renato Sanches have been performing for their respective clubs this season and will be important players for this duel.

Of course, Poland will not be easy opponents for this Portugal team. While their first match doesn't add great value to the pre-match Poland vs Portugal predictions being made, the fact that they have their star man playing up front for them is an advantage that cannot be denied.

Robert Lewandowski will be coming to this game full of purpose. The 30-year-old captain has not scored for Bayern Munich for three games now, and his especially disappointing performance against Borussia Monchengladbach has left the Bavarians in fifth place.

He will definitely be trying to bang in some goals against Portugal, and there's no better way to do it than with the best footballers of his country in front of an adoring home crowd? I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a brace for this game.

Moreover, he also has a myriad of strong players to help him. Rafal Kurzawa, Piotr Zielinski, Lukasz Fabianski, and Grzegorz Krychowiak will be likely selections for Jerzy Brzeczek moving forward. If they just avoid conceding goals in the second half the same way they did to Italy and Ireland, they should be set to get the three points.

History

These two European powerhouses haven't played each other a lot despite being highly ranked in the FIFA standings. The two have only played 11 games against each other, the first of which was during the 1976 World Cup qualifiers. The Bialo-czerwoni easily won away in Portugal, winning the game 0-2.

However, the Seleccao have had the advantage ever since, winning five of the eleven games they have played. They have also scored 14 goals while only allowing the Poles to score ten times on them. However,  they find it hard to score against Poland whenever they have to play away from their home fans.

Their last match, during the 2016 European Championship, does not put much difference between the two sides either. Lewandowski and Sanches scored their goals in the first half, and Portugal had to rely on penalties to help them get into the next round.

Betting Tip

??

Poland vs Portugal Poland 1X2 @ 2.80
October 12, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Portugal definitely have strong players on their side that can force an interesting competition against Poland, but the absence of a strong leader in Cristiano Ronaldo is probably too much for them to handle. It might be that Santos is trying out how Portugal will be able to play without Cristiano, and I fear that that will cost them the three points against Poland.

The SBOBET tips don't put much separation between the two sides, but I think that home-court advantage and a highly motivated Lewandowski should be able to put them through the game.

There are also other interesting markets to bet on. For example, there is a big possibility that only one side will be able to score in this match. It would not be bad to bet on Under 2.00 Goals for 2.12, then. Total Goals of 0-1 is also available at 2.52.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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11-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 12:42 PM (69 days ago)            #29
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UEFA Nations League: It’s Belgium’s Chance To Go Top!

Belgium vs Switzerland

World Cup 2018 semi-finalists Belgium welcome Switzerland in Brussels this weekend for the UEFA Nations League, and expectations are high for Roberto Martinez' men who have a huge chance of claiming the solo lead in Group A2.

The in-form El Nati, of course, will be keen to say otherwise. After all, they did demolish Iceland in their opening game of the tournament last month, seemingly sending a message to Belgium that they are coming for them.

However, there's a reason why the Red Devils are currently the top team in the world, and they will be determined to show that this time around.

Talking Points

Belgium have been sensational over the past few years, to say the least. While their so-called "Golden Generation" failed to deliver the most-coveted silverware in the recent World Cup, their semi-final appearance is a testament to how dangerous they are.

Besides, they only beat the likes of England and Brazil on their way to their bronze medal finish.

Now, they are the top-rated team in the world—making history as one of the first ever teams (together with France) to share the top spot in the rankings.

The Red Devils head to the Switzerland match at the back of three straight wins, including back-to-back victories against Scotland and Iceland in September that saw them score a total of seven goals.

They hit four unanswered goals in their friendly match with the Scots before firing three against Iceland in their first UEFA Nations League game. Romelu Lukaku scored three of those goals, with Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard bagging two each.

Martinez will be concerned about the recent form of Lukaku and Batshuayi. Lukaku hasn't scored in Manchester United's past six games as the Old Trafford club stumbled both in their domestic and European campaigns.

Batshuayi, meanwhile, has been abysmal for Valencia, finding the back of the net just once in 10 competitive matches.

However, the 45-year-old manager will remain confident about their chances against Switzerland, thanks to Eden Hazard who has been on fire for Chelsea in the past months. The streaky Belgian forward has already scored eight goals in all competitions for the Blues, seven of which came in the Premier League.

He also boasts three assists in the English top flight, helping Chelsea stay unbeaten in the competition.

Can Eden Hazard once again lead Belgium to victory in their upcoming UEFA Nations League match?
Belgium star Eden Hazard in action against Iceland's Birkir Bjarnason during a UEFA Nations League game

Hazard will be the main attacking threat for Belgium, and Martinez is undoubtedly leaning on his star striker to lead them in their conquest of Switzerland.

Vladimir Petkovic's charges know the threat that Belgium bring, especially on their home turf, but they will hope to ride on their six-to-nothing thrashing of Iceland in the Group A2 opener to turn things around.

Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri, Wolfsburg's Admir Mehmedi and Hoffenheim's Steven Zuber were all on target in that game—grabbing the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights in the process—so it's not wrong for Petkovic to believe that they can win.

Nonetheless, their friendly loss to England shouldn't help their cause, especially after exposing once again their habit of collapsing in the second of a match, similar to what we have seen in their World Cup 2018 stint.

History

Belgium won three of their last five matches with Switzerland, but they have only met once at the turn of the century. Their only meeting in the 2000s was a friendly at Switzerland's Stade de Geneve two years ago, a fixture that saw Belgium top the hosts 1-2.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the winner in that game after Lukaku equalised for them. Unfortunately, the Manchester City playmaker is set to miss this fight due to injury.

With the two teams lacking information on how to play against each other, Belgium will be happy to be playing at home. The Belgians are undefeated at home since 2016, boasting a 16-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Betting Tip

??

Belgium vs Switzerland Correct Score Belgium 2-1 @ 7.00
October 13, 02:45 (GMT+8)
To no one's surprise, Belgium are commanding the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds. Even the Asian Handicap odds at SBOBET are giving Petkovic's men a huge handicap just to even the playing field. However, as Martinez said, the Swiss could prove to be really difficult opposition. And I expect that to be the case. Belgium will be missing some key players, and I think that will make them struggle a little bit. Switzerland, on the other hand, will surely be determined to win, knowing the fact that they have nothing really to lose as the underdogs. I predict the match to be close, and I see a repeat result of their 1-2 friendly—with Hazard scoring this time.

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11-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 12:59 PM (69 days ago)            #30
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UEFA Nations League Croatia vs England: It’s Not About Revenge!

Croatia vs England

The wounds are still a little raw, but Gareth Southgate will make sure England arrive with cool heads on their shoulders when he takes his fledgeling squad to Croatia on Friday.

The UEFA Nations League Croatia vs England match will bring back happy memories for Croatia, but rather more painful ones for the young Lions, after the brilliant Luka Modric inspired his team to a dramatic extra-time win in the World Cup semi-final. Both nations enjoyed a fantastic tournament but were left with a wonder of what might have been. Zlatko Dalic’s team was well beaten in the final against France, but England didn’t have a chance to find out.

These are two of the world’s best teams, according to the FIFA rankings, with the hosts fourth and the visitors currently sixth on the list. Croatia vs England odds tells us this will be as tight a game as that epic encounter in July.

It’s going to be an odd atmosphere, though, as the game will be played behind closed doors while the hosts complete a two-match ban for racist behaviour.

Talking Points

England World Cup hero Kieran Trippier has said the Three Lions are not on a revenge mission when they visit the empty HNK Rijeka Stadium. The Spurs wing-back provided more chances than anyone in the tournament and scored a beauty of a free-kick in the semi-final. He says the young team is determined to make long tournament runs a habit.

With an average squad age of under 24, Gareth Southgate is continuing to look to the future: he is giving Borussia Dortmund wonder kid Jadon Sancho his first call-up, along with Leicester’s rising star James Maddison and Chelsea youngster, Mason Mount, currently on loan at Championship club Derby. Brighton’s big defender Lewis Dunk has also had the call because Burnley’s James Tarkowski is recovering from injury.

Sancho admits he was surprised by his elevation to the England squad, but he shouldn’t be as one of the Bundesliga’s top assist providers and an exciting talent at BVB. And that’s good news for Manchester United’s 20-year-old striker, Marcus Rashford, who has scored England’s last two goals.

Another man hoping to impress is Chelsea’s Ross Barkley. He was frustrated to be left out of the World Cup squad but has made a great start to the season with rave reviews from no less than Eden Hazard!

Zlatko Dalic’s team came so close to an incredible World Cup triumph, losing in the final to France. After a bright start from England in the semi-final, the class of his well-established players shone through. Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic scored the goals which broke England hearts, but it was FIFA Best Awards winner Luka Modric who pulled the strings.

UEFA Nations League Croatia vs England: Luka Modric is ready for their match against the Three Lions
Luka Modric warming up before Croatia's International Friendly match against Portugal

What Southgate wouldn’t give for an accomplished talent like Modric to help bring on his young guns? Alongside the gifted Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, he can bring a level of creativity England can only hope for.

The game will be played behind closed doors because a swastika was seen on the pitch during a game between Croatia and Italy back in 2015, shortly after a spate of racist chanting by their fans in a match with Norway. This is the last game of the fan ban.

It’s going to be a fascinating clash; all the Croatia vs England highlights will be right here at SBOBET with the big moments in detail, kick by kick.

History

There has been a period of reflection for both teams since the World Cup. After two heroic campaigns, both have been dealt a dose of reality by Spain, a team with more riches in its squad, but one which badly under-achieved in Russia, going out to the hosts on penalties.

England lost 2-1 to Luis Enrique’s side, but the Croats were decimated 6-0, the worst defeat in the country’s history and one which makes a mess of Croatia’s goal difference. In their other September fixture, the Three Lions won their friendly against Switzerland while Croatia drew with Portugal.

Before the World Cup semi-final, the two previous meetings were rather painful for Croatia: they were on the end of two thrashings, 4-1 and 5-1, during qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

And England edge the head-to-heads by four victories to three, with no draws.

Betting Tip

??

Croatia vs England England Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.05
October 13, 02:45 (GMT+8)

This clash is a tough one to call with the hosts, roared on by no one, at 2.60 to win, while England are at 2.76 and the draw at 3.00.

Though longest in odds, the draw seems the most likely result in many ways, with 1-1 the lowest odds scoreline at 5.00, and 2-3 goals at 1.81.

It’s not about revenge; but if anyone’s going to edge it, then why not Southgate’s young Lions?

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:21 PM (64 days ago)            #31
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UEFA Nations League: Rivalries Like This are Always Compelling

Netherlands vs Germany

As international football rivalries go, this is almost as big as they come.

Whether it be a World Cup or European Championship showpiece or a mere UEFA Nations League match-up, there is rarely a dull encounter.

For this is one of football’s longstanding rivalries.

The war-related sentiment which cast a shadow over many of their meetings has long eased, but a tempestuous clash in Italia 1990 set the tone for a modern-day rivalry which has never quite gone away.

Talking Points

So here we are. A Group A clash at the Amsterdam ArenA which could provide some of the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights.

Both nations have points to prove.

Germany are looking forward to win their UEFA Nations League campaign after their disappointing World Cup performance
Germany players giving thanks to their fans after their defeat to South Korea last World Cup 2018

Germany are still reeling from their nightmare defence of the World Cup, eased slightly by a narrow victory over Peru and a draw with the nation that took their world crown, France, last month.

Holland are also trying to steady the ship with an overhaul of many of the side which failed to qualify for the summer showcase.

They also squeezed past Peru last month before losing to France in this very tournament.

Germany have absentees, including Antonio Rudiger (groin), Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus, but they still possess a greater strength in depth than the new-look Holland squad being shaped by new boss Ronald Koeman.

The former Everton manager has called on his players to use last week’s Ajax result – a 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich in the Champions League – as an example of how the Dutch can use their qualities to gain a positive result against a more experienced opponent.

The Netherlands have won two, drawn two and lost two of Koeman's six matches in charge since taking over in February, but he accepts his side remains in transition after their failure to qualify for Russia 2018.

The likelihood is this may be a match which has no bearing on who ultimately qualifies for Euro 2020.

But it will certainly not be a glorified friendly either.

There’s too much background for that.

Let me give you two examples.

At Euro 1988 when the Dutch came from behind to beat the hosts in the semi-final, the Germans were hit so hard they didn’t leave the dressing room for half an hour after the final whistle.

Most of the German players didn’t even shake hands with the opposition and Koeman, who scored in that win, revealed after the match he had wiped his backside using the German shirt he had swapped with his opponent at full-time.

When they met two years later, the bickering Dutch deservedly lost and Frank Rijkaard spat at Rudi Voller.

This game will not have any of that nastiness, but there will still be an undercurrent.

Holland-Germany always has.

History

What a history!

They last met in a major tournament in Euro 2012 when a Mario Gomez double fired the Germans to a 2-1 success, despite a late Robin van Persie reply.

Germany have the edge in most competitive encounters with the exceptions being the 1988 and 1992 European Championships when, under the late great Rinus Michels, a Marco van Basten-inspired Dutch national side claimed two major victories.

Overall, the two countries have met on 40 occasions with the Dutch winning 10, the Germans enjoying success in 15 of the clashes and the other 15 ending up as draws.

However, when it matters most the Germans have usually had the edge, most notably in the 1974 World Cup Final.

Their last meeting came on November 12 in an Amsterdam friendly which ended goallessly.

Betting Tip

??

Netherlands vs Germany Total Goal 0-1 @ 3.71
October 14, 02:45 AM (GMT+8)

They may have had a miserable World Cup, eliminated at the first hurdle, but Germany are still favourites for this match.

After all, at least they qualified for Russia 2018.

Under Koeman, there were signs of spirit in their narrow defeat to world champions France last month and they are only five places below the Germans (12th) in the latest world ranking tables.

In UEFA Nations League 2018 odds with SBOBET, Germany are priced 1X2 @ 2.15 with the Netherlands @ 3.15 and the draw @ 3.35.

Asian Handicap odds also leans towards Joachim Low’s side who are priced -0.25 @ 1.86 and -0.50 @ 2.16, compared to the hosts + 0.25 @ 2.06 and + 0.50 @ 1.78.

A handful of goals are expected, judging by the odds on total goal 2-3 @ 1.83.

A repeat of the 0-0 from their last meeting nearly six years ago – correct score 0-0 – offers odds @ 12.50.

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:37 PM (64 days ago)            #32
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No Ronaldo, No Problem: Portugal Crush Poland in UEFA Nations League Win

Poland 2-3 Portugal

This match was a tough one to predict, but only a few people probably expected a Portugal team without Cristiano Ronaldo to be this prolific in this UEFA Nations League match!

In place of their talismanic Ronaldo was a trio of Silvas bringing up the attack up front. While these three have proven themselves at club level, the absence of their star has made Poland vs Portugal predictions a little hazy.

However, it seemed like Fernando Santos' men didn't need their star striker, after all! Portugal did the job on their own and brought on one of more impressive UEFA Nations League 2018 results of the day.

Highlights of the game

Poland failed to achieve UEFA Nations League 2018 Results against Portugal
Portugal benefited from Kammil Glik's own goal to win vs Poland

The game started with Poland showing a lot of intention to score. Of course, the Portuguese were also going to be dangerous for the Poles throughout the game.

The rest of the early minutes of the game saw the football go from end to end. Portugal have made a number of threatening attacks in the Polish half despite their talisman's absence, but the Poles' hard-nosed defence made life difficult for their guests.

It was in an 18th-minute corner that the Stadion Slaski would see a goal. Rafal Kurzawa launched a corner from the right to the far-left post. Patricio, the guardian deity of a good Watford team, tried to catch the ball, but Robert Lewandowski was in his way. The ball found Krzysztof Piatek's flying body, and the prolific Genoa striker headed the ball into the goal.

Portugal toiled through Poland's defence in order to equalise. Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo was especially proactive in the attack to try and get the Seleccao back on track. The Poles were able to somehow keep Santos' men away for a good chunk of the half.

Unfortunately, their lead was only kept until the 31st minute. Pizzi ran through the right and made a dangerous approach to the Polish goal. He made a quick pass to Andre Silva. The 22-year-old, who also scored against Italy, tapped the ball from close range and into the goal. There was nothing Lukasz Fabianski could do with the strike.

The game started tilting towards Portugal's favour within the next ten minutes, but Piotr Zielinski and Robert Lewandowski tried pulling the momentum back in Poland's favour. Lewandowski, who is getting hurtful words for his poor club form, was quiet for a good chunk of this match.

However, Portugal managed to end the half with a lead. Rafa Silva was able to get the ball past an out-of-line Fabianski after getting a long ball from Ruben Neves. The ball was destined for the net, and Kamil Glik made a daring challenge. However, the Monaco defender's efforts ended in horror as his tackle ended up with him scoring an own goal.

The second half started with Jerzy Brzeczek's men trying to get the game back on equal footing. However, the lack of a superb midfield presence is obvious in this squad as they are forced to settle for route-one football coming from the back. They weren't able to do anything with their goals.

Things soon got worse for the Polish supporters when Portugal turned their two-goal deficit to three. Bernardo Silva ran up the right win in a blitzing counter-attack. Upon the approach of the penalty box, he suddenly cut to the middle and unleashed a shot to the left-hand side of the post. Fabianski was caught off guard, and the scattered Portugal fans in the stadium roared in delight.

It seemed like the game was over until Poland somehow made their direct passing play work in the 77th minute. An attack from the right saw Poland making a dangerous run with the ball. The ball flew to the box and subsequently cleared. Jakub Blaszczykowski then got to the ball and fired a first-time shot to the lower-right corner, just out of reach for Rui Patricio to save.

Renato Sanches almost sealed the game when he made his move in the 84th minute. He got a good through pass and cut through the defence. He beat Fabianski and was primed to score. Tomasz Kedziora was able to keep the game close with a last-gasp save of Sanches' shot.

 Bruno Fernandes also had a shot at making the final score 2-4 at the death when he received a good pass from Andre Silva to see nothing but an open goal. However, the Sporting midfielder got nervy and skied the ball.

That was to be the last real chance of the game as the referee soon blew his whistle after four minutes of extra time. While the Bialo-czerwoni put up a good fight against their guests, the Seleccao was just too good on the day.

Key statistics

Portugal are now building a slight lead in their head-to-head history against Poland after this victory. While the goals scored are still pretty close -- Portugal have 14 while Poland are at 10 -- this result should have given this Portugal team much-needed confidence when Ronaldo calls it quits on his international career.

Portugal had a better all-around game compared to their hosts. The Seleccao had 20 goal attempts with eight shots on target and five blocked shots. Both teams were playing physical defence: 26 fouls were committed through the 90 minutes, and referee Carlos Del Cerro had to pull out his yellow card six times.

What's next?

Poland vs Portugal predictions are disappointed as the underdogs won against Poland
Portugal managed to win despite Ronaldo's absence

The SBOBET tips for Portugal should be sky-high when they head up north to play Scotland at Hampden Park. I don't see the Scots beating the Portuguese in any possible way, and we should check this off as another Portugal win.

Meanwhile, Poland will stay put at Stadion Slaski as Italy come to visit next. While Gli Azzurri haven't won their last five games, the sheer quality of their players is something to be wary of.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:47 PM (64 days ago)            #33
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UEFA Nations League Preview: O’Neill and Ireland Have a Shot at Revenge

Republic of Ireland vs Denmark

The casual football fan may only see this UEFA Nations League duel between the Republic of Ireland and Denmark as a run-of-the-mill international fixture that will be providing enough action and drama. I don't think a lot of people are expecting to see top-quality football here.

However, to say that these two nations will not be able to excite the crowd is akin to throwing mud to the Boys in Green.

Sure, the last couple of games have been rough for Martin O'Neill's lads. However, I don't think the Boys in Green would let their skid extend to three games. There's no reason to believe that they will be looking to end the streak here and pull an impressive result against the Danes.

They still know that their guests will be the big favourites among SBOBET fans. They would have to play some high-quality football if they want to pull off this round's most impressive upset. But it's not bad to have a little faith, right?

Talking Points

UEFA Nations League to feature Republic of Ireland vs Denmark this weekend
Denmark players applaud their fans after their 2-0 win over Wales in the UEFA Nations League

Martin O'Neill is at the centre of the storm, and he has to do a lot of heavy lifting in order to turn things around at the Ireland camp. While he is confident that his neck is not on the line in this match's run-up, it's not like Ireland are in a great position ahead of these games.

The Boys in Green are currently at the bottom of the table after enduring a tough defeat to Wales to open their Nations League campaign. Save for their friendly triumph against the United States in June, they have not won six of their last seven fixtures in all competitions.

Morale has been especially low for the Ireland fans, and attendance and empathy among fans alarmingly shrunk by the time they played Poland in a friendly the last month. This is especially worrying UEFA Nations League 2018 news for a team and a football federation that is struggling to contend for viewership with Gaelic football and hurling, the most popular sports in the country.

They could use all the help they can get, and Cardiff City midfielder Harry Arter will be a huge boon to the side. While his row with Roy Keane is still far from being completely patched, we can be sure that at least the man will be suiting up alongside James McClean, Shane Long, Darragh Lenihan and Darren Randolph.

Meanwhile, Denmark will be coming into this game at the Aviva Stadium with a lot of confidence. They are backed by UEFA Nations League 2018 odds for a reason, but things might be a little more difficult for the Danes.

Christian Eriksen, their star midfielder who is attracting attention from Real Madrid, is sure to miss the coming games in the international break as he is still recovering from an abdominal injury. Eriksen's passing and attacking acumen will be sorely missed by the Danish Dynamites, Age Hareide should have more than enough players to help him get past these opponents. Yussuf Poulsen, Thomas Delaney, Jannik Vestergaard and Kasper Schmeichel will be players to watch out for.

Moreover, their last Nations League clash is a showcase of form for the Danes. They defeated a strong Wales team, 2-0, while keeping superstar attacker Gareth Bale scoreless for a good chunk of the game. If we just look at the specifics of this game, there's no question that the game is heavily in Denmark's favour.

It will be up to the Boys in Green to reverse the script and pull off a memorable performance for the Irish fans.

History

While things aren't looking especially perky for the Republic of Ireland, the head-to-head paints an interesting picture.

The two nations have played fifteen matches over the course of their careers, and both teams have split the games most times at six games. The hosts have won more games than the Danes at five games, one-upping Denmark's four.

However, the last game they played was a very painful memory for plenty of Irish football fans. The absent Eriksen was the architect of the crushing 1-5 collapse that shook Irish football to its core. Not only was the game a painful pill to swallow, but it was also the game that kicked them out of the 2018 World Cup.

Betting Tip

??

Republic of Ireland vs Denmark Denmark 1X2 @ 2.45
October 14, 02:45 (GMT+8)

History points to another draw, but Denmark will be coming to this game with confidence after a convincing victory against the Welsh Dragons. Moreover, the stigma of that night at the Aviva Stadium is not something that can be easily forgotten.

Moreover, the overall quality of the players should slightly put the Danish Dynamite ahead of the Boys in Green. If you're especially confident of Denmark's chances, you can try their -0.25 Asian Handicap for 2.19.

I also see this as a game that will see a couple of goals, so going to 2-3 Total Goals offers a promising 1.85. The Over-Under Market also has attractive odds for those who see this game as a goalless draw: Under 1.75 Goals offers a mouth-watering 2.25.

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:50 PM (64 days ago)            #34
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UEFA Nations League: Solid Sweden Keeps Russia at Bay

Russia 0-0 Sweden

There was no way through either defence in tonight’s UEFA Nations League clash at Kaliningrad, as Russia and Sweden battled out a goalless draw.

Andreas Granqvist put in a man of the match performance at the heart of Sweden’s defence to repel anything Stanislav Cherchesov’s Russia could throw at them, denying the hosts a chance to pull clear at the top of Group B2

Russian football rather needed a pick-up after two internationals were arrested for attacking a trade ministry official. But after a bright start, they ran out of time as the Swedish defensive wall held firm. For the visitors’ coach Janne Andersson, this was a decent result, ending a three-match losing run.

Highlights of the game

Sweden skipper Granqvist was a colossus at the World Cup and has been attracting the attention of Manchester United as Jose Mourinho plans to bolster his defence. But he’s an attacking threat as well and had Sweden’s first attempt on goal, shooting wide from an Emil Forsberg corner.

The Russian attack has become a potent force since the beginning of the World Cup, and with the giant Artem Dzyuba a constant menace, creating space for others, co-striker Aleksey Ionov had a shot charged down. As the game swung back and forth, Granqvist was in the thick of the action again; this time, heading down a corner but Mikael Lustig shot high and wide.

It was a tough UEFA Nations League night for Artem Dzyuba as he couldn't score for Russia
Russia's Artem Dzyuba fights for the ball with Sweden's Mikael Lustig during their recent UEFA Nations League clash

At the other end, Dzyuba made room for Denis Cheryshev, but his shot flew narrowly past the left post. It was real end-to-end stuff in the first half, and Marcus Berg brought a great save from Marinato Guilherme as his shot arrowed towards the top-right corner.

The first action of the second half saw Dzyuba and Cheryshev linking up again as the big man nodded down for Cheryshev, but the Valencia man’s shot flew over the bar.

Wing-back Konstantin Rausch was Russia’s best player on the night, defending with authority and raiding forward. He crossed for Dzyuba, but he headed over. And then Cheryshev had another effort only to see it charged down. Granqvist was the man to block; he was everywhere in defence for the Swedes while Russia tried to break down their resistance as time began to run out.

Dzyuba took a tumble in the box as the Russian attacks became more desperate, but it was never a penalty. Granqvist wasn’t amused by the big man’s attempt to trick the ref. Keeper Robin Olsen was finally called into action to make a brilliant save, tipping over a super effort from substitute Daler Kuzyaev, then he came off his line quickly to deny Dzyuba after Rausch put him through, but up went the offside flag.

It was a frustrating night for the Russians, but a job well done by Sweden.

Key statistics

Russia and Sweden were at it hammer and tong in the first half, sharing the possession and the shots, Sweden edging it by seven to six.

Our UEFA Nations League 2018 odds had a draw at 3.20, and we quite fancied that, even though neither team had participated in a draw in the last seven games.

They both reached the quarter-finals of World Cup 2018, but there was little star quality on show tonight. No one could complain at the effort and energy on show. But they only managed three shots on target between them all night, one for Russia and two for Sweden.

But Sweden have ended their three-match losing streak, while Russia have made it three without defeat and sit top of Group B2 with two matches played.

What’s next?

Robin Olsen did a fantastic job in the UEFA Nations League to help Sweden break their losing slump
Sweden No.1 Robin Olsen stops a goal attempt from Russia in the UEFA Nations League

These are two nations which will be desperate to show their continued worth in European football after a spectacular summer. And now, they want to make it to Group A of the Nations League at some stage in the not-too-distant future.

Don’t forget to keep up with all the UEFA Nations League 2018 news right here at SBOBET, when Russia have the chance to make some progress on Sunday night when Turkey are the visitors.

Meanwhile, Sweden host Slovakia in a friendly next week, before getting back to Nations League business away to Turkey in November.

It’s all to play for.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:53 PM (64 days ago)            #35
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UEFA Nations League: Who Can Chase Portugal Down?

Poland vs Italy

All roads lead to the Stadion Slaski in Chorzow this weekend for the UEFA Nations League tie of the round as Roberto Mancini takes Italy to meet Poland.

Group A3 is an absolute cracker, with three of Europe’s finest football nations battling it out, and relegation is a real option in the new format. Portugal are making the early pace and so, on Sunday, one of these two teams needs to make a move.

I don’t mind saying we at SBOBET football missed Italy at Russia 2018. It was Gli Azzurri’s first absence from the World Cup in 60 years as they plummeted to their lowest FIFA ranking at 21st.  Poland did make it but disappointed. So both sides are in a period of rebuilding, trying to get ready for Euro 2020.

Talking Points

The early UEFA Nations League 2018 results in Group A3 have put Portugal firmly in charge on six points, while Italy and Poland are stuck on one. This game is huge in the context of that table: a win puts the victors in contention and the loser in the mire.

Even without Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal proved to be too good for Jerzey Brzeczek’s Poland, winning Thursday’s match 2-3 after going behind. The former Wista Plock coach has been tasked with getting Poland to the European Championships after the exit of Adam Nawalka, but he needs to make progress in this competition and find some momentum, which has proved tricky so far.

He’s well-known to Poland fans, having won 42 caps for the national team, and certainly has some quality in his side.  But skipper Robert Lewandowski is going through an unusually quiet period for Bayern Munich, without a goal in three games. He won his 100th cap last night, but there was to be no celebration. Surely. Lewandowski will come good again soon.

Attacking midfielder Piotr Zielinski knows a few of the faces he’ll meet on Sunday night, having started well with his new club Napoli in Serie A. And as his last line of defence, Brzeczek has two experienced keepers. Lukasz Fabianski played against Portugal, but Wojciech Szczesny might well get the nod on Sunday.

Whoever is between the sticks for Poland will probably come up against one of the hottest properties in the Italian league, Lazio’s Ciro Immobile. But Roberto Mancini has plenty more talent in his armoury.

Lorenzo Insigne is an almost certain pick on the left wing when Italy play Poland in UEFA Nations League
Lorenzo Insigne hope to inspire Italy vs Poland

Zielinski’s club-mate Lorenzo Insigne is in fine form, with seven goals to his name already this season. And Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella had an impressive international debut on Wednesday as Italy drew with Ukraine in a friendly: he linked up well with Chelsea’s Jorginho, and the two can provide plenty of ammunition for Insigne and Immobile.

History

Mancini’s team hasn’t won in five away games but will feel they should have won the return fixture in Poland back in September when they were held to a 1-1 draw. In fact, three of Gli Azzurri’s last four games have resulted in a 1-1 scoreline. The other was a defeat to Portugal in the Nations League when Andre Silva scored the winner to put Portugal in charge of Group A3.

Poland like a 1-1 draw too, achieving that score against Ireland after the Italy match. And in the last eight meetings between these two sides, four have been draws, with each side winning two. But prior to this Nations League competition, the last meeting was seven years ago when Italy triumphed 2-0.

Betting Tip

??

Poland vs Italy First half draw @ 1.90
October 15, (02:45 GMT+8)

This is a fascinating clash for UEFA Nations League 2018 betting fans to get their teeth into, with Italy slight favourites at 2.37, while Poland are at 2.72 and the draw at 3.05.

Both teams have the firepower to win the game: Lewandowski for Poland and Immobile for Italy have proven pedigree in the biggest leagues in Europe, top-scoring in the Bundesliga and Serie A. But there may be a nervy atmosphere in Poland with neither team in the habit of winning. So I predict a cagey first 45 minutes while the big players on either side work out how they can break through.

Would either coach be happy with a point? I doubt it as that would give Portugal daylight at the top; but they look evenly matched and while the opening goal will be vital, if it arrives with 20 or so minutes to go it will be a nail-biter.

And, wait for it….1-1 is available at 4.80!

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:56 PM (64 days ago)            #36
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UEFA Nations League: Lukaku Scores Twice in Belgian Win

Belgium 2-1 Switzerland

Some club football fans are frustrated with how the UEFA Nations League ask too much from their players to the point that it may affect their season. However, Manchester United will be praying fervently that Romelu Lukaku's outstanding performance in this overwhelming win will continue domestically.

The Manchester United man hasn't scored a goal for quite some time, and there have been calls from the gallery to replace the struggling Belgium international. Some were even bold enough to call for his sale.

His scoring was an important winning condition for several pre-match previews, and many of the Belgium faithful will be proud of his performance. His showcase against a strong Switzerland XI is surely one of the biggest UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights of the weekend.

Highlights of the game

The first half started with the two sides going end-to-end with the football, trying to establish possession and flow of the game. Both Eden Hazard and Xhardan Shaqiri both made attempts to crack the goal.

It only took 10 minutes for the King Baudouin Stadium to see a bit of action from the Red Devils, however. Yannick Carrasco controlled an accurate pass into the goal area and headed the ball to a dangerous spot. While the ball was far from Yann Sommer's hands, the attempt was narrowly wide of the left post.

Belgium’s Eden Hazard focused more on play making in their match against Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League
Belgium’s Eden Hazard dashes and breaks through Nico Elvedi and Michael Lang

The next real chance came in ten minutes later with Eden Hazard being at the centre of attack. The Chelsea man, the self-proclaimed best player in the world, ran through the left and made a good pass to the open Youri Tielemans. The Monaco man fired the ball from right outside the box, but his shot went wide of the right post.

At this point, it was clear to everyone that the hosts were living up to pre-game Belgium vs Switzerland predictions made by fans. While the Swiss had as much as 55% possession of the ball in the early stages of the game, it was the Belgians that threatened to score more often.

Switzerland were almost able to steal a goal in the 28th minute when Fabian Schar made a brilliant back pass to Shaqiri. The Liverpool man was able to beat the offside trap and was a shot away from goal. However, a Belgian defender was able to catch up and block his shot attempt.

Romelu Lukaku then made his presence known in the 32nd minute. The Manchester United striker fired a long shot towards the goal. Sommer was definitely taken off-guard by the attempt, but a block by a Swiss defender made the goal easier for the Borussia Monchengladbach stopper to save. The save he pulled out of his locker to make the stop was impressive, too.

Belgium began the second half with much purpose, and Roberto Martinez made some precise adjustments that helped the Red Devils move better in the second half. They soon showcased good passing and were constantly trying to poke through the Swiss backline.

Their persistence eventually prevailed in the 58th minute when Romelu Lukaku scored a great goal in the 58th minute. The Belgian XI built it up slowly on the left, attracting most of the defenders. A couple of quick passes saw the 25-year-old with all the space in the world. There was no way he would not score against Sommer.

Switzerland were doing their best to equalise, but they could not find the back of the net. Steven Zuber made a brilliant run in the 61st minute to crack through the Belgian backline, but Thibaut Courtois didn't have any problem containing the effort to the middle of the goal.

The Swiss fans who did make the trip to Belgium weren't disappointed when their national team scored the equaliser, After 76 minutes of action, the Schweizer Nati got themselves a free kick in a dangerous spot. Nico Elvedi connected with the deep kick and passed the ball to Mario Gavranovic, and the Dinamo Zagreb man cannoned the ball towards goal.

The King Baudouin Stadium would roar back to life in the 84th minute when Lukaku scored his brace. In a quick counter, Dries Mertens and Lukaku engaged in a bit of a one-two pass, allowing the striker to punch through the defence. His low-driven effort close to the goal was enough to beat Sommer a second time.

Switzerland threw every soul they have forwards as they attempted to crack through the final third, but that was all she wrote. Roberto Martinez can rest a bit easier as they now sit atop Group A2.

Key statistics

Switzerland, a side that came off a very impressive win against Iceland, are stumped that they couldn't pull off a result against Belgium, but it wasn't like they were completely hopeless in the match.

Possession was even between the two sides. There wasn't much separating the two sides attack-wise: Belgium took 19 shots with seven on target, while Switzerland made 16 attempts and had five of them made towards the goal.

Moreover, they are still an impressive team whenever they're playing away from home. Counting this fixture, the Schweizer Nati have only conceded goals to two teams on seven away games.

What's next?

The SBOBET UEFA Nations League market won't be busy until another month, but there are more exciting fixtures to expect!

Roberto Martinez hopes to continue their great UEFA Nations League performance as they face Holland on a friendly match
Roberto Martinez celebrates after Belgium’s second goal

Belgium will be locking horns with the Netherlands to end this month's round of friendlies. Their next opponent in the Nations League will be Iceland, currently bottom of the table. Meanwhile, Switzerland will be playing the Vikings in three days' time before welcoming Qatar next month.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 5:58 PM (64 days ago)            #37
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UEFA Nations League: No Goals and no Fans

Croatia 0-0 England

Two of Europe’s best sides cancelled each other out tonight as Croatia and England shared the spoils in the first UEFA Nations League fixture to be played in an empty ground.

It was an eerie atmosphere behind closed doors at the NHK Rijeka Stadium and it took the two teams a good while to get going, but in the end, neither could break the deadlock.

Hitting the woodwork twice, Jadon Sancho's England debut, and a successful move to a back four were some of the bright points for Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad. While for Croatia, Ivan Perisic looked just as dangerous as he did at Russia 2018.

The UEFA Nations League betting odds for Group A4 will heavily back Spain to come out on top, but these two are off the mark and now have a chance to test the leaders.

Highlights of the game

Gareth Southgate has been searching far and wide to find the right balance for his team and to unearth the best talent. Leicester City wing-back, Ben Chilwell, made his first competitive appearance for England after featuring in the friendly against Switzerland. He made a bright start, raiding down the left flank and sending a wicked low cross in for Raheem Sterling but Josip Pivaric made a last-ditch tackle to keep the scores level.

World Cup finalists fail to get a win again in the UEFA Nations League
Ivan Perisic attempts a header during Croatia's match against England in the UEFA Nations League

Ivan Perisic had Croatia’s first attempt on the 19th minute after a clever corner routine, but his shot was well blocked by Eric Dier. Chances were at a premium in a cagey first half and we hardly had a sight of Harry Kane. In fact, the first real opening came on 37 minutes when Perisic, England’s chief tormentor in Russia, started a move which gave Andrej Kramaric a sharp chance, but Jordan Pickford saved well.

But then, having been quiet for much of the opening half, England came within a whisker of going ahead when Eric Dier headed Jordan Henderson’s cross onto the post.

The second half started at a quicker tempo, and Perisic again forced Pickford into action with a 20-yard snapshot. That seemed to spark England as Henderson fired in a free-kick which Kane met and his header crashed back off the crossbar.

Ross Barkley made his first appearance for Gareth Southgate after a good start to the season for Chelsea, and he came alive with a bursting run into the box before falling under a challenge from Ante Rebic, but the referee waved England’s penalty appeals away.

As England kept up the pressure, Marcus Rashford fluffed his shot from six yards, when he should have scored, and was then denied by the keeper when he had another presentable chance. Croatia began to get back into their stride, Rebic beating Henderson before curling a 25-yard effort wide.

England had the ball in the net on 75 minutes after good work from Barkley and Henderson, but Kane was flagged offside. And then, England’s youngest new debutant, Jadon Sancho, came on to replace Sterling.

He could be a big star in England’s future, but the Borussia Dortmund winger didn’t have much time to impress. He did make two good jinking runs and crosses which Croatia were stretched to clear.

Key statistics

Make no mistake… this game meant a lot to both sides. Croatia were still hurting from a recent 6-0 spanking at the hands of Spain, but England wouldn’t care about that. In their last meeting with Zlatko Dalic’s team, the Three Lions were just 22 minutes away from a World Cup final when Croatia took that dream away.

The pre-match SBOBET odds were at 3.00 for a draw, and while it was a close fought encounter, Gareth Southgate may feel his side did enough to win…almost.

England had the lion’s share of the possession and used the ball better than their hosts, with passing accuracy of 83 per cent compared to Croatia’s 79 per cent. And it was a quiet night for the keepers with only five shots on target, three for Croatia and two for England as the visitors were twice denied by the woodwork.

It’s the first draw between England and Croatia since 1996, and the Three Lions still edge the head to heads by four to three.

What’s next?

After two rounds of UEFA Nations League results in Group A4, England and Croatia now have a single point each. This was a good result for Spain.

England faces Spain next. They won’t need to ask Croatia for any tips before taking on Luis Enrique’s team, which was highly impressive in last week’s 1-4 win against Wales, Paco Alcacer continuing his club form with a brilliantly taken double.

Meanwhile, Croatia has a home friendly against Jordan, and then it’s back to the Nations League in November when they’ll be determined to put up a show against Spain and England.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:09 PM (64 days ago)            #38
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UEFA Nations League: Time for Young Lions to Bite!

Spain vs England

It’s now or never for England as they prepare to take on the might of Spain, at the Benito Villamarin in Seville, in the next clash of the UEFA Nations League.

Spain have taken a healthy lead after two rounds in Group A4 with two wins, while Croatia and England each have a single point. And a defeat for the Three Lions on Monday night will mean they can wave goodbye to any hope of catching the leaders.

All you SBOBET Nations League fans will know I’m asking a lot here, but fortune favours the brave; these young Lions have bravery in spades.

Talking points

Gareth Southgate’s England are a work in progress and a promising one at that. But promise needs to turn into results in the not-too-distant future. Take a look at France. Les Bleus have exciting young talent such as Kylian Mbappe, but they are already World Champions and will only get better.

It’s dog eat dog out there and, while a Semi-Final appearance at Russia 2108 restored the pride in English football, it will all be for nothing if this team doesn’t take the next step.

England earned their first Nations League point on Friday in Croatia but they could so easily have won. Marcus Rashford missed a couple of good chances, one a sitter. And having scored in the last two international games, he’ll hope the loss of his killer touch is only temporary.

BVB wonder kid Jadon Sancho made his debut for England in that game, and though he only had ten minutes or so to show what he can do, he gave enough evidence with two good runs and dangerous crosses to get England fans excited.

Winning in Spain would be a massive achievement, particularly without the experience of Jordan Henderson and John Stones, both booked against Croatia. I wouldn’t be surprised if Southgate would take a draw if offered right now.

He won’t say that, though.

Luis Enrique’s Spain are by no means the finished product but, my, he’s made an impressive start as head coach. He is blessed with strength in depth. Even without the injured Isco, his team is scoring for fun. Spain had an impressive 1-4 victory in Wales last Thursday, with Paco Alcacer scoring twice.

Spain could afford to leave talent such as Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio on the bench in Cardiff, and he’s likely to make an appearance on Monday night. In midfield, the energetic Saul Niguez is getting better and better. And if England are to break through the Spanish defence, they need to outwit world-class talent including Sergio Ramos, Cesar Azpilicueta, the best wing-back in the Premier League, and then David de Gea!

History

Spain are determined to dominate England when they host them in Seville for a UEFA Nations League match
Spain manager Luis Enrique watch his squad as they play Wales in an international friendly

Since their conflicting fortunes in the World Cup, it’s little surprise that Luis Enrique has got his Spain firing without delay, winning all three of his games in charge. Meanwhile, since returning from Russia, England have won one, drawn one and lost one, to Spain.

Enrique’s side came from behind to win their opening Nations League fixture against England, and that is very much a case of ‘what might have been’ for the Three Lions. Can they put that right and see out a win at the Benito Villamarin?

History says it’s highly unlikely. The last two Spain vs England results at this venue have both resulted in a 2-0 win for Spain, but head-to-heads are closer, with the hosts on six, England on five and two draws.

Betting Tip

??

Spain vs England 2-3 goals @ 1.82
October 16, (02:45 GMT+8)

Spain vs England odds point to a home win. Spain is a strong favourite at 1.73 with the draw at 3.35 and the size of England’s task perfectly illustrated by their odds of 4.90.

A draw is the most likely 45-minute outcome, and if Southgate’s young Lions can make it that far, then who knows? I can’t see a goal fest in this game: England will be determined not to go the way of Croatia and Wales, but their defence may miss the protection of the absent Henderson.

Harry Kane was quiet on Friday, having only one effort of note which hit the bar, and he must take a chance if it comes his way. It isn’t a one-sided game by any means, and Enrique will know that the young Lions carry a threat.

If you think the visitors can avoid leaving Seville empty-handed, then the double chance on England and Draw is available at 2.00.

But then if you like to back the favourite, another 2-0 for Spain at the Benito Villamarin is up there at 7.20.

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:15 PM (63 days ago)            #39
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UEFA Nations League: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Iceland vs Switzerland

It’s matchday four of six in Group A of the UEFA Nations League, and a nation known for being ice cool has revenge on its mind – and certainly lashings of pride.

A low point after two years of harmony naturally still hurts, and this encounter in Laugardalsvollur offers the ideal chance to restore some pride if nothing else.

UEFA Nations League 2018 news suggests Iceland will finish bottom of a group which also includes in-form Belgium.

But this is an opportunity to show the world they have not suddenly become the whipping boys of European football.

Talking Points

The Nordic nation may have had a fairly underwhelming stint at Russia 2018, but they are a team capable of upsetting even the giants and powerhouses of world football as they have proven over the past two years.

The thunderclap at home can be like a 12th man sometimes – just ask World Cup finalists Croatia who found out memorably last summer.

Iceland had a world ranking in the 130s four years ago. They are now ranked 36th, have become the smallest country to make a major football final, and are known for their exuberant approach to the game.

Not bad for a nation with a population of just 330,000 and fewer than 22,000 registered footballers.

One of them is their talisman, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose success has inspired this football-mad country to embrace the national team and ensure the unheralded squad is at the very heart of a nation.

Sigurdsson captained Iceland last week in the absence of Aron Einar Gunnarsson.

Across Merseyside in the English Premier League is arguably Switzerland’s main man.

After their defeat to Belgium, Xherdan Shaqiri must find a way to bring back their good form in UEFA Nations League
Xherdan Shaqiri battles for the ball with Dries Mertens

Xherdan Shaqiri could well be the biggest thorn in Iceland’s side, along with goal-getter Haris Seferovic, although coach Vladimir Petkovic is likely to be without Johan Djourou, Kevin Mbabu and Admir Mehmedi.

It must not be forgotten, however, that just like Iceland, Switzerland hardly set the World Cup alight.

They managed to win just one of their four games on their way to a last-16 exit and, after the Iceland rout last month, went down to a 1-0 friendly defeat to England at Wembley.

Despite being pegged back late on, Iceland can take heart from their 2-2 draw with world champions France – a result which the Reykjavik Grapevine humorously, with tongue very much in cheek, claimed made the indomitable Vikings unofficial world champions!

Birkir Bjarnason and Kari Arnason goals put them within seconds of a stunning friendly victory, and Switzerland dare not be complacent if they take this form back home with them.

The Swiss themselves want to regain top spot in the group after battling hard but going down to a Romelu Lukaku double against Belgium yesterday – a defeat which will hurt having conceded so late.

They know anything other than a victory will make it extremely difficult to top a group, even against the Belgians who have just said farewell to their assistant manager Thierry Henry after Roberto Martinez’s number two decided to accept a job offer and become the new coach of AS Monaco.

Only 2,500 tickets are remaining for this game which suggests the Icelanders have maintained their interest and focus in the national team.

History

The two nations had never met until 1979.

That was the first of five straight Swiss victories over the small nation until a pulsating 4-4 draw in a World Cup qualifier in 2013 in which Iceland fought back from 4-1 down, thanks to a hat-trick from Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

That was their last meeting until last month’s rout in St Gallen.

Betting Tip

??

Iceland vs Switzerland Over 2.75, Over Under @ 2.17
October 16, 2:45 (GMT+8)

Switzerland are overwhelming favourites to complete a double over a side they trounced a month ago.

UEFA Nations 2018 betting odds see the Swiss priced 1X2 @ 1.65 with Iceland 1X2 out @ 4.50.

The draw offers an appealing @ 3.45.

Given the Nordic men are home, perhaps you fancy a punt on Iceland First Half 1X2 @ 4.80 or Switzerland 1X2 @ 2.26.

Asian Handicap has Iceland + 0.75 @ 1.97 and Switzerland -0.75 @ 1.87.

I do think goals are guaranteed in this one – even if Iceland have frustrated higher-ranking sides in the not too distant past.

Total Goals 4-6 @ 3.05 will tempt many of you; even the Double Chance Iceland or Draw @ 1.99 could persuade a few SBOBET punters.

An unlikely repeat of a rout is available also. Correct score Iceland 0-4 Switzerland will pay out @ 30.00.

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:20 PM (63 days ago)            #40
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UEFA Nations League: Aviva Sleeps as Ireland, Denmark Settle for Draw

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Denmark

The UEFA Nations League game between Ireland and Denmark had all the makings of a dramatic football game.

Martin O'Neill and the Ireland squad have not forgotten the hiding they endured against the Danes that denied them a ticket to the big dance last summer. The need for the Boys in Green to win this game was all the rage in various UEFA Nations League 2018 news pages. They had the chance to steal the show when their bogeyman was listed unavailable to compete.

However, they weren't able to give the crowd what they wanted. The game ended in a boring goalless draw that frustrated many fans that made a bet in the SBOBET UEFA Nations League market.

Highlights of the game

With Christian Eriksen gone for the Danes, Age Hareide had to field a slightly weaker team. The young Kasper Dolber, who is in fine form for Eredivisie giants Ajax, was tapped to step in for the Tottenham man.

The Irish took the opportunity to defy Ireland vs Denmark odds and score an early goal against the Danish Dynamite. Jeff Hendrick took the first dangerous shot of the game, and the Burnley midfielder tried to force a shot. However, the ball flew just outside the right post.

The game had its own good share of physicality as the Boys in Green are doing everything they can to rejuvenate national interest in the Beautiful Game and fill the seats of the Aviva Stadium once more. Harry Arter, trying to cement his spot in the team after his row with coach Roy Keane, made a rough tackle that got him carded early.

James McClean believes Ireland should have the last minute penalty in their UEFA Nations League clash with Denmark
Ireland's James McClean duels for the ball with Denmark's Martin Braithwaite

Pundits believe that this Ireland squad is the weakest the nation has fielded in quite a while and is in desperate need of heroes to step up. Stoke City's James McClean is doing everything he can on and off the pitch to get Ireland back on the right track. However, his brilliance on the attack was hampered by Kasper Schmeichel and the Danish backline.

The next big chance for the Boys in Green didn't come until late in the first half. Shane Duffy latched onto a great free kick to head the ball towards goal. Unfortunately for the fans that flocked Aviva, the ball just drifted inches wide of the left post.

Pione Sisto finally got Denmark onto a dangerous position at the end of the half when he created a chance himself and fired a mid-range rocket. The Irish breathed a sigh of relief as the shot was denied by the right post. The referee blew the whistle, and both teams headed to the lockers with a frustrating goal in their hands.

Hareide made the necessary adjustments during the break and organised the Danes to become much more effective moving forward. The Danes began to disregard the Irish pressure and were beginning to make piercing runs through the defence. It's only the overloaded box that made Sisto's 55th-minute shot fly way off-target.

Simon Kjaer almost broke the deadlock after 58 minutes when he found Lasse Schone's cross and fired it away from Darren Randolph. Fortunately for the Boys in Green, Arter was there to deny the goal and clear it away from the box.

Denmark have completely dominated the match by this point. While the Irish were able to gain possession, the Danish Dynamite easily dispossessed them and had a good chunk of possession. They were able to control the ball, but the lack of quality moving forward was painfully noticeable for the Danes.

It took 72 minutes for Ireland to get another great chance. Good build-up by the Boys in Green saw the Danish backline stretched a bit. The ball ended in Cyrus Christie's person on the right side. The Fulham defender unleashed a brilliant effort, but Captain Schmeichel was able to push the good attempt away from goal.

Denmark began upping their attacks as the game neared its end. Yussuf Poulsen and Martin Braithwaite put on some brilliant individual efforts to try and defeat the Irish backline. However, Darren Randolph was simply superb in between the sticks as he denied both attempts.

Both teams scrambled to get a late goal, but both sides just lacked enough quality to get the required goal. The Aviva Stadium was quiet as the referee blew the final whistle: both teams knew that this draw was not what the fans deserved to see.

Key statistics

Denmark have always been consistent in defeating opponents that are considered weaker than them, as their last 31 wins have been against better competition. However, it seems that they could not find the back of the net this time.

They really missed the creativity of Eriksen in the middle: while they were able to take 15 shots on 64% possession, only two of those were on target. They were also caught offside three times.

The referee was called into question during the game as the Danes committed 14 fouls but only got carded once. Meanwhile, the Irish got four yellow cards after committing 12 fouls.

What's next?

Age Hareide is still happy with a draw in UEFA Nations League clash with Ireland after winning to Wales last month
Martin O'Neill and Age Hareide giving directions from the touchline

Both nations will have a bit of a break before engaging in more gruelling tests. Ireland will need to toughen up as they face Wales up next. O'Neill needs to produce a result here if he wants his team to have a chance to stay at League B.

Meanwhile, the Danes will have a shot at redemption when they welcome Austria at the MCH Arena. They should have no problems defeating their guests as they are coming into this game as heavy favourites.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:23 PM (63 days ago)            #41
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UEFA Nations League: Things are Getting Feisty in Group C!

UEFA Nations League - League C

I understand that it can be quite easy to overlook the other leagues of the UEFA Nations League.

Storylines such as a Ronaldo-less Portugal thriving against top competition easily makes more compelling UEFA Nations League 2018 news rather than Serbia keeping a slim margin between themselves and Romania at Group 4.

However, you might be missing out on great football if you're not looking beyond Leagues A and B of the international tournament. League C has already presented us some interesting storylines that will surely entice many SBOBET fans into checking these games out.

League C has groups in a deadlock, nations holding on to slim leads, and sides simply dominating the opposition. There's so much to cover and only so little time to properly deal with them. So let's dally no further and get into the games!

Group 1

Depending on who you ask, the third-round clash between Israel and Scotland is either a well-deserved win or a blatant robbery. Thanks to this result, the group is now wide open.

Israel started the game with much intention on the attack, firing crosses and challenging Allan McGregor plenty of times. However, the Blue and Whites were the first to concede after Dor Peretz's strong challenge inside the box had the referee award the Tartan Terriers with a penalty. Charlie Mulgrew easily sent the ball to the back of the net.

However, Israel upped the ante and managed to bounce back and pull off a fantastic comeback in the second half. Peretz corrected his error with a brilliant effort to equalise the game. The Israelis needed a bit of luck for their winner: Kieran Tierney made a poor deflection of an Israeli cross, and the ball headed straight to the goal.

Highlight of the Group: John Souttar's second yellow card is a point of contention among fans. His foul on Munas Dabbur brings doubts as to whether it actually deserved a card from the referee.

Key statistic: McGregor was easily the biggest man on the pitch. The Rangers stopper wore his biggest gloves that night, stopping an unbelievable seven shot attempts from a red-hot Israeli squad.

Group 2

Teemu Pukki hits a stoppage time goal for Finland in their UEFA Nations League match against Estonia
Finland's Teemu Pukki celebrates with teammates after scoring a last-minute winning goal against Estonia in the UEFA Nations League

Finland are the masters of Group 2 as they now stand atop this group with a three-point cushion.

They easily crushed Estonia despite playing away from home. They simply dominated their hosts and led a trigger-happy game where both teams fired shot after shot. Nerves were plenty when neither side was able to score a goal, but Teemu Pukki was able to calm the nerves of the Finnish fans with a 90th-minute strike.

Meanwhile, Greece were able to defend their home pitch against Hungary by eking out a 1-0 victory. Konstantinos Tsimikas and Konstantinos Mitroglou connected in the 65th minute to bring the only goal in the game.

Highlight of the Group: Pukki's 90th-minute winner was a showcase of class. The Norwich forward, who also scored last time out, was able to brilliantly beat the offside trap and convert a near-goal attempt with Mikhel Aksalu tightening the angles.

Key statistic: The number of shots taken in the Estonia-Finland game will make fans question as to whether the defenders of both sides were even defending properly. The combined number of goal attempts in this game is 34.

Group 3

Bulgaria followed suit to Finland and are the clear leaders of Group 3 after a convincing result against Cyprus. Reserve Juventus forward Grigoris Kastanos threatened pre-match UEFA Nations League 2018 odds with a brilliant first goal. However, beautiful goals from Kiril Despodov and Todor Nedelev ensured that Bulgaria stay on top.

Meanwhile, Norway manage to keep their second place after pulling off a superb victory at the Ullevål Stadion. There was a bit of a scare when Markus Henriksen and Luka Krajnc collided their heads in the early minutes of the game. Both players were eventually able to continue the game and witness a wonderful howitzer from Ole Selnaes.

Highlight of the Group: All of the goals scored in this round are nothing short of impressive, but Kastanos' opener takes the cake for me. The presence of mind showcased by the reserve Juventus striker to go for the goal despite the number of opponents around him is nothing short of admirable.

Key statistic: The Bulgaria-Cyprus game is a special moment for Kastanos and Despodov. Both youngsters scored their first international goals in this Nations League clash.

Group 4

Aleksandar Mitrovic leads Serbia to victory after scoring twice against Montenegro in recent UEFA Nations League clash
Aleksandar Mitrovic in action during Serbia's UEFA Nations League clash against Montenegro

Serbia are somehow clinging to the top spot in Group 4, but their showcase against Montenegro away from home renews the promotion hopes of the fans. Fulham ace Aleksandar Mitrovic was the main man for the Orlovi as he scored a brace to stomp their hosts.

Meanwhile, Lithuania and Romania gave the fans that flocked the LFF Stadionas enough drama and goals to last them an entire month. Alexandru Chipciu scored an early goal to put the visitors ahead. Late drama then ensued when Arturas Zulpa and Alexandru Maxim scored fantastic strikes at the death.

Highlight of the Group: The biggest highlight has to be between Zulpa and Maxim, but I have to give it to Maxim for the best goal of the game. His individual skill to weasel his way through defenders and make his own shot at the tail-end of the game is a testament to his steely nerves.

Key statistic: The visiting nations of this group had more attacking prowess than their hosts. Serbia fired 12 shots and had four of them on target, while Romania made 16 goal attempts and forced Ernestas Setkus to make five saves.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:25 PM (63 days ago)            #42
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UEFA Nations League: The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Oranje!

Netherlands 3-0 Germany

It may be the UEFA Nations League as opposed to a major championship. Therefore, it may not be a result that too many SBOBET fans read too much into.

However, it's certainly a scoreline that makes people sit up and take notice.

It was a close encounter for the most part, but those who just see the score will now begin to ask further questions about Germany manager Joachim Low and his struggling nation.

Highlights of the game

As far as goals are concerned, the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights were provided by Premier League players past and present.

First, Liverpool centre-back and skipper Virgil van Dijk headed in from close range after Ryan Babel headed against the crossbar.

Then man-of-the-match Memphis Depay, formerly of Manchester United, finished off a slick counter-attack.

And then another Liverpool man, Georginio Wijnaldum, fired home into the bottom corner to complete a memorable night for the Oranje.

Certainly, if you looked at the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds before kick-off, this wasn’t expected.

Indeed, home supporters generally expect to be patient and know it will take some time for new boss Ronald Koeman to return the Netherlands to their former status with a new look and fairly youthful side.

But they weren’t expecting this against the former world champions, even accounting for their miserable 2018 which culminated in a shock exit at the World Cup group stage.

For a side which enjoyed 60 percent of the possession, Germany naturally created chances.

They were denied what appeared to be a clear-cut penalty in the final 10 minutes when Arnaut Groeneveld tripped Matthias Ginter, only to see referee Cuneyt Cakir unmoved.

They also came closest to levelling, first through the out-of-sorts Timo Werner and Thomas Muller before the break, and then when unmarked substitute Leroy Sane dragged his shot wide from close range after being played through by playmaker Toni Kroos.

Kroos himself had earlier defended his boss Low after criticism from outspoken former captain Michael Ballack.

It was to prove costly as Depay—who also hit the crossbar—and Wijnaldum scored twice in the final five minutes to put a one-sided gloss on the scoreline in the Amsterdam Arena.

The result leaves Germany bottom of their group and in need of a positive outcome in a little over 72 hours’ time against the new world champions.

Not that it is of great consequence in the wider scheme of things, but Germany now face the real prospect of relegation from Group A1 of the UEFA Nations League.

They certainly look a pale imitation of the nation which won the 2014 World Cup and last year’s Confederations Cup.

In contrast, to quote a famous advertisement, perhaps the future is looking bright for Oranje!

Key statistics

Germany sit at the bottom of their group in the UEFA Nations League following their 3-0 defeat against Netherlands
Germany manager Joachim Low gestures to his players during their UEFA Nations League match against Netherlands

Low's Germany, who won the World Cup in 2014, have now only won three of their last 12 matches.

Low has now broken the record for most matches as German national team manager. This was the 168th time he has been at the helm since succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann in the role in 2006, breaking the record previously held by Sepp Herberger.

In handing Mark Uth his Germany debut, the Schalke forward became the 100th player to earn their first Germany cap during Low's reign.

PSV Eindhoven full-back Denzel Dumfries also made his international debut.

This was Netherlands' first-ever victory over Germany by a three-goal margin.

Former Dutch favourites Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt were among those watching the contest, and the crowd paid tribute to their international careers before kick-off.

Their service to the national team saw Van der Vaart win 109 caps, including 25 goals and 23 assists.

Kuyt won 104 caps, scored 24 times and notched 19 assists.

Germany have now failed to score in three successive matches for the first time in their history.

This was the first time Germany have lost to the Netherlands since 2002.

Top of Form

What’s next?

It’s a quick turnaround now for Germany who entertain the nation that took their world crown.

They visit France next week for a Group A1 clash in the Stade de France.

They host Russia in a friendly next month before welcoming the Netherlands for the return fixture to wrap up the group.

Netherlands take on old adversaries Belgium in a friendly, also next week.

Then it’s their turn to play the world champions in the group on November before their visit to Veltins Arena, home of Schalke.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:30 PM (63 days ago)            #43
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UEFA Nations League Highlights: D is for Domination!

UEFA Nations League - League D

Georgia, Belarus, Kosovo and Macedonia stamped their authority in their respective groups in League D with convincing performances in Matchday 3 of the UEFA Nations League.

The Georgians dominated Andorra and are now well poised to be promoted to League C as they lead Group D1 by a huge margin. The same goes for Macedonia who made easy work of Liechtenstein in their D4 meeting.

Belarus, on the other hand, toppled Luxembourg from the top with a clinical victory, while Kosovo made sure they retain their seat on the summit after Azerbaijan briefly climbed up.

GROUP 1

A win and a draw appear to be the norm in Group D1. However, if there's one thing constant, it's Georgia getting all three points.

The first two gameweeks saw Vladimir Weiss' men reign victorious and the other match ending in a draw, and that pattern continued this time as they beat Andorra by three goals to nothing and the Latvia-Kazakhstan match finishing in a 1-1 draw.

Georgia were never really threatened in their game and came out with an easy victory behind goals from Valeri Qazaishvili and Jaba Kankava. Meanwhile, Latvia battled back from an early deficit as Arturs Karasausks hit one before the break to share the spoils with the Kazakhs.

Highlight of the Group: The Georgians controlled the proceedings against Andorra, but it's interesting to note that their last two goals came in the closing stages. Qazaishvili completed his brace in the 84th minute before Kankava added the team's third in injury time.

Key statistics: Weiss' charges had 80 percent possession and limited Andorra to just one shot on target. With the defeat, Koldo Alvarez' side drops to the bottom of the group with two draws and one loss.

GROUP 2

Belarus won the top-of-the-table battle in Group D2 this week, allowing them to leapfrog Luxembourg at the top with seven points. Anton Saroka, who scored once in their 5-0 opening day victory against San Marino, grabbed the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights once again as he bagged the lone goal of the match.

Belarus are now one point ahead of Luxembourg following their UEFA Nations League victory
Belarus players celebrate after winning against Luxembourg at Stadyen Dynama

Moldova, meanwhile, got their first win of the tournament at the expense of struggling San Marino. They lost their opener against Luxembourg and drew with Belarus in the following match, but Radu Ginsari ensured Moldova got all the points this time.

Highlight of the Group: Saroka took advantage of Luxembourg's sloppy defending to break the deadlock right before halftime. Pavel Nekhajchik saw a header blocked from the centre box, but Saroka was there to rebound and complete the job.

Key statistics: With another clean sheet, Belarus remain as one of only two teams that haven't conceded a goal yet in League D. On the other end, Ginsari's two goals for Moldova are the team's first of the tournament.

GROUP 3

The pre-tournament UEFA Nations League 2018 odds at SBOBET had Azerbaijan as clear favourites to top Group D3, but Kosovo have now replaced them in the pecking order.

Azerbaijan remain in striking distance from Kosovo after destroying Faroe Island with three unanswered goals. However, Kosovo showed they wouldn't relinquish their lead at the top easily, beating Malta 3-1 behind two second-half goals.

Highlight of the Group: With the game seemingly headed to a 1-1 draw, Kosovo scored twice in a span of 13 second-half minutes to pull away from Malta. Vedat Muriqi and Benjamin Kololli—who opened the account for the home team—both struck to lead the team to victory.

Key statistics: Kosovo and Azerbaijan are still undefeated in the competition, alongside Georgia, Belarus and Macedonia. Interestingly, Group D3 is the only group that has two unbeaten teams.

GROUP 4

Macedonia are one win away from promotion, thanks to their dominant 4-1 win over Liechtenstein. Aleksandar Trajkovski (twice), Goran Pandev and Egzijan Alioski all found the back of the net for the Macedonians, making Seyhan Yildiz' strike for the visitors a mere consolation.

On the other game, Gibraltar made history after winning their first-ever away win in an official international competition, including friendlies. Joseph Chipolina converted from the spot for Gibraltar in the 50th minute and goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin ensured the victory with a string of impressive saves against Armenia.

Macedonia are delighted as they maintain their winning streak at the UEFA Nations League
Macedonia's Ezgjan Alioski celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal over Liechtenstein

Highlight of the Group: While Macedonia were never made to work hard, it was Liechtenstein who had one of the best moments. Yildiz got one back for the visitors a minute after Pandev made it 3-0, making him the first player to score against the Macedonians in the Nations League.

Key statistics: Gibraltar's 1-0 win over the Armenians broke a run of 22 competitive internationals without a win. Chipolina's penalty is also their first goal in the event after going scoreless in their first two fixtures.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:33 PM (63 days ago)            #44
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France vs Germany: It’s Now or Never for Germany in the UEFA Nations League

France vs Germany

Germany could really use a win right now. After all, another defeat would almost ensure their relegation to the second-tier competition of the UEFA Nations League.

Joachim Low's men are in disarray, and only victory could ease the increasing pressure on Low and his players who have been largely disappointing all year long—having also missed the knockout rounds of the 2018 World Cup.

Unfortunately for the once-mighty Germans, their task won't be easy. France currently lead Group A1 with a draw and a win after two matches, and all odds point to an easy victory for the reigning world champions at Stade de France.

Talking Points

Saying that Germany are in a slump would be an understatement. They are winless in three straight competitive matches, the latest against the Netherlands that saw them concede three goals.

Moreover, including the defeat to the Netherlands, they have lost three and drawn one in their last four away games in all competitions—including friendlies.

Indeed, Germany haven't been themselves since their group stage loss to South Korea in the World Cup 2018 that effectively denied them a spot in the knockout stages for the first time in 80 years.

They have seemingly lost that cutting edge that allowed them to dominate and dictate the pace of a game at will. They failed to score in their goalless draw with France in the Nations League opener last month, and their offensive woes were even more highlighted in their loss to Ronald Koeman's Oranje.

Both Germany and France aim to finally hit a goal when they meet for another UEFA Nations League clash
Thomas Muller tries to hit the ball into the net during Germany's UEFA Nations League match against France

Sure enough, Germany had their chances as well, and it could be said that they were just unlucky not to score. However, failing to find the back of the net against a team that has conceded at least one goal in their last four matches speaks volume about Germany's current situation.

Not to mention that, like in the South Korea match, they collapsed defensively and conceded two late goals against the Netherlands.

Low, who recently set the record for the most matches in charge of Germany, admitted that his team is lacking confidence right now. Nonetheless, they cannot afford to get sucked into the situation and emotion, especially now that they are facing relegation to League B—something unimaginable for the 2014 World Cup winners.

Victory against France will be huge and will turn the tide of battle for Germany. Getting all three points would see them tie the Frenchmen at the top of Group A1 with four points—a position that will allow them to challenge for a Final Four berth.

Nonetheless, doing so is easier said than done. France are the best team in the world for a reason, and they appear unstoppable right now with their 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Also, after sharing the spoils with the Germans in the tournament opener, they beat Netherlands 2-1 to stamp their authority in the group.

Germany will sense some vulnerability in France after their 2-2 friendly draw with Iceland, but they should remember that rising star Kylian Mbappe played as a second-half substitute in that match. Furthermore, the moment that Mbappe entered the game, France changed into a different beast and were able to erase a two-goal Iceland advantage in the last four minutes of play.

The Iceland game showed France would have their defensive lapses from time to time, but it also proved how strong they are when their lineup is complete.

Also, there's no doubt that Les Bleus aren't short in confidence. Not after the biggest moment of their lives.

History

As mentioned, the two teams played out a goalless stalemate in the opener—a result that grabbed the UEFA Nations League 2018 news and headlines, with storylines pointing to Germany's return to relevance.

However, as what we have all learned, that is nothing but a fluke on Germany's end.

France still hold the advantage in their recent head to heads, winning two of the last five to Germany's one. Moreover, the last time they met at Stade de France, Les Bleus kept the Germans scoreless as they scored twice behind goals from Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac.

Betting Tip

??

France vs Germany Correct Score France 3-2 @ 22.00
October 17, 02:45 (GMT+8)

France, to no one's surprise, are expected to win. The only question is: by how many?

The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds put France as overwhelming favourites, with SBOBET Asian handicap betting implying that Germany have little to no chance at all.

I do agree with the odds and predict a France domination, though I think Germany can score this time. Surely, they won't waste 21 shots without scoring this time, right?

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:36 PM (63 days ago)            #45
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UEFA Nations League: Italy Bang Down the Door!

Poland 0-1 Italy

Italy grabbed a well deserved UEFA Nations League win tonight in Poland, but it took at 93rd-minute winner courtesy of Cristiano Biraghi to clinch the points.

Roberto Mancini’s team dominated from the very first minute to the last and must have wondered how they had played with such attacking intent without scoring, until the last-gasp winner. And that all means Italy is still in the hunt to win Group A3 but Poland is relegated.

It was the second defeat in a week for Poland after the hosts narrowly lost to Portugal here at the Stadion Slaski.

According to UEFA Nation League 2018 odds only Portugal, in Group A3, has a realistic chance of winning the tournament but now, thanks to Biraghi’s first international goal, Italy may have something to say about that.

Highlights of the game

Italy started like a house on fire and when Lorenzo Insigne found Jorginho, the Chelsea midfielder unleashed a shot which crashed the crossbar in the very first minute. Then Lorenzo took a pass from Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella and fired his shot inches over.

Napoli’s attacking midfielder Piotr Zielinski has good knowledge of Serie A and many of the Italy team, but despite his best efforts, Italy dominated the first half as the busy Jorginho tested Wojciech Szczesny in the Poland goal. And the Juventus stopper was called into action again to deny Federico Bernardeschi after he was put in by Marco Verratti.

Jerzy Brzeczek made two changes at halftime, bringing on Kamil Grosicki and Jakub Blaszczykowski but Roberto Mancini’s team continued to probe. The Polish defence held a good line though catching first Federico Chiesa and then Bernardeschi offside. And then, on the hour, Poland had its second attempt on goal, when Zielinski passed to Grosicki on the right side of the box, the Hull City winger let fly but Gianluigi Donnarumma saved comfortably.

Azzurri skipper Giorgio Chiellini put Chiesa in with a headed pass, but his shot flew high and wide as the visitors continued their search for the goal their dominance deserved.

Insigne was the next Italy striker to be caught offside and then, on 71 minutes, Chiesa crossed for Bernardeschi but his header glanced wide of the left post when he should have hit the target. The lively Grosicki had at least given Poland an outlet and he tried his luck from distance, but too close to Donnarumma to trouble the young Milan keeper.

While Poland had improved in the second half, much of the hosts’ hopes were pinned on set pieces and long throws, but they got little change from Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the Italian defence.

Mancini made a change with ten minutes left bringing on Udinese striker Kevin Lasagna to replace the frustrated Bernardeschi and to provide a focal point for Italy’s attacks. But, when his chance came, he joined the ever-growing list of the Azzurri forwards to be caught offside.

Roberto Mancini's Italy defeated Poland in the group stage of the UEFA Nations League
Italy head coach Roberto Mancini giving instructions to his players at the touchline

As the game entered injury time Kamil Glik fired a snapshot straight at Donarumma. The 19-year-old keeper hadn’t had a lot to do but he’d been tidy all night.

And then finally Italy’s reward came. Lasagna got his head to a corner and flicked on at the near post for Cristiano Biraghi to slide the ball home.

Group A3 is still alive!

Key Statistics

The SBOBET odds had Italy slight favourites at 2.37 and that turned out to be good value as Mancini’s men put Poland to the sword.

Italy was totally dominant in the first half and, with 68 per cent possession and a shot count of ten to one, the Azzurri must have been wondering what they had to do to go ahead, they had tested Szczesny four times but he had coped with relative ease, aside from watching Jorginho’s effort clatter his crossbar.

Poland improved a little in the second half but with a shot count of six to 18, they can have few complaints that Italy finally banged the door down.

It’s Roberto Mancini’s first competitive win as Italy boss and the Azzurri’s first away win in six attempts.

But Poland has the unenviable distinction of being the first team to be relegated in the UEFA Nations League.

What’s next?

Next up Poland has a friendly at home to the Czech Republic in November before Jerzy Brzeczek’s takes his team to Portugal and you can be sure the UEFA Nation League 2018 updates will keep on coming.

Portugal still heads Group A3 and had a chance to test some squad players in a 1-3 friendly win over Scotland on Sunday. And before hosting Poland the table toppers visit Italy in a game which will decide Group A3.

Don’t miss it!

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:39 PM (63 days ago)            #46
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UEFA Nations League: England Stun Spain with 45-minute Blitz!

Spain 2-3 England

England pulled off the UEFA Nations League shock of the round tonight, beating Spain at the Benito Villamarin in Seville to blow Group A4 wide open.

In a blistering first half, Gareth Southgate’s young Lions flew into a three-goal lead, breaking rapidly and finishing brilliantly to leave the hosts’ world class stars stunned.

Raheem Sterling scored a brace, his first England goals for three years, but Spain fought back as expected. Luis Enrique has a quality team and they will feel aggrieved to have lost, having been denied a clear penalty.

This was a Spain side unbeaten in 38 and used to sweeping teams aside, as they did in Wales last week. It was a result which blew the UEFA Nations League odds to pieces that’s for sure. At 4.90 to win England had a big challenge, but they rose to it magnificently.

And you’d have to say, of all the UEFA Nations League results so far in this new competition, this was surely the biggest.

Highlights of the game

England was under attack from the off as Spain zipped the ball around and attacked in numbers. Jonny, making his debut, raided down the right and turned inside to shoot, his effort was charged down but if he’d looked up he would have seen Marco Asensio in acres of space.

The visitors were without the experienced pair Jordan Henderson and John Stones, suspended, and their defence was tested again when a Thiago shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Marcos Alonso flew in at the far post but Pickford managed to scramble the ball away.

As England began to get into their stride, the two players who really needed a boost got just that. The Three Lions broke down the left and Marcus Rashford put Raheem Sterling in with a beautifully weighted ball which the Manchester City man smashed into the far corner, beyond the reach of David de Gea.

Spain put its foot down again to find a leveller but then, remarkably, before half hour was up, England doubled the lead. Harry Kane latched on to a long ball and superbly found Rashford in the centre who, after suffering in front of goal in Croatia, took a good touch and finished with aplomb.

Spain continued to have more of the ball but was two enough for England? Apparently not; as the England fans sang, ‘Are you Scotland in disguise’ Ross Barkley chipped the ball forward, Harry Kane sprung the offside trap and Sterling poked home his second. We said this young England team had some bite and how they showed it.

What a first half!

UEFA Nations League: Raheem Sterling scored a brace as the Three Lions defeat La Roja 3-2
Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring for England against Spain in the UEFA Nations League

Southgate’s task was to keep thing calm and get his team through the inevitable onslaught at the start of the second half, but they couldn’t quite make it to the hour mark. Jordan Pickford was a little careless conceding a corner and when it swung over the prolific Paco Alcacer, who’d only been on the pitch two minutes planted his header past the England keeper.

Minutes later Pickford almost cost England another goal and was mighty lucky. His football skills aren’t quite as good as he thinks they are and when he collected a back pass, instead of putting his foot through the ball he tried to dribble past Rodrigo, who nicked it off him. But before the striker could make it 2-3 Pickford pulled him back and, mystifyingly, the referee gave a corner.

Enrique and his entire team were incensed and quite rightly so as it was a clear penalty. But Sergio Ramos was carded after the protests had eventually died down.

It was all Spain from then on, but England gradually found their shape again to ride out the storm. Asensio and Alcacer both came close but the Lions kept Spain out until the very last play of the game.

Sergio Ramos headed the 98th-minute goal to make it 2-3. And that was a fitting end to a pulsating match.

Key Statistics

The team here at SBOBET had a feeling that England would give Spain a good game in Seville but we didn’t expect that!

The opener was Raheem Sterling’s first away goal for his country and it was England’s first in Spain since 1987. The second goal was Rashford’s first away for England. The third goal made it the first time Spain had ever conceded three at home in a competitive game…ever!

And Spain lost its first competitive game in 39, having won 34 of the previous 38!

All this from a team in which Kieran Trippier was the only starter older than 25.

What’s next?

Spain heads to Croatia in November and a win will secure the group for Enrique’s men.

The Three Lions probably deserve a holiday after this, but caring though their coach is, Southgate has lined up a home friendly against USA, before Croatia visits for their

final Group A4 Nations League clash.

If either game is half as good as tonight’s…we’re in for a treat.

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16-Oct 2018 Tuesday @ 6:48 PM (63 days ago)            #47
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UEFA Nations League: Swiss Succeed in Rainy Reykjavik

Iceland 1-2 Switzerland

It wasn’t the humiliation of just over a month ago but an overall score of 8-0 over two UEFA Nations League contests tells its own story.

Switzerland can still top Group A2 while all SBOBET supporters knew before this that Iceland were destined for bottom spot.

UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights: Switzerland started the second half stronger through Haris Seferovic's opener
Michael Lang's finisher made Switzerland celebrates victory against Iceland

Highlights of the game

It took 52 minutes for the deadlock to be broken in Laugardalsvollur but then two goals in 15 minutes ended Icelandic hopes.

First Haris Seferovic headed home after a cross from Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, the new Swiss captain – even though that decision has not been to everyone’s liking.

Then another English Premier League man, XherdanShaqiri, turned provider to allow Michael Lang to fire into the bottom right-hand corner from close range.

Iceland have not kept a clean sheet for more than a year and, after their encouraging draw with world champions France last week, this was another setback.

Sure, Alfred Finnbogason reduced the arrears with nine minutes remaining with a shot from outside the box into the top left-hand corner – one of the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights so far and well worth watching – but it wasn’t enough.

This was hardly the revenge Iceland had hoped to inflict on the Swiss in rainy Reykjavik after their capitulation last month against the same opponents.

It is known Iceland can compete with the best on home turf, and they certainly held their own in the first half.

After an early Mario Gavranovic effort was blocked, talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson called visiting goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo into action before Johann Berg Gudmundsson saw an effort blocked.

Sigurdsson again tested Mvogo on the half hour as Iceland came closest to scoring with Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson also heading narrowly wide and Gudmundsson seeing another effort blocked as the half drew to a close.

Switzerland started the second half stronger and, just after Kari Arnason went close, Seferovic broke the deadlock and dented Icelandic confidence.

Looking for an immediate response, Sigurdsson set up Arnor Ingvi Traustason whose shot was kept out as the game opened up.

Unlike the Swiss, the hosts were, at least, getting most of their efforts on target but the next goal was always going to be key and, after Finnbogason went close with a header, Lang settled the contest at the other end.

Prompted by Sigurdsson, the spirited home side pressed on and were rewarded when they pulled one back.

However, Arnason and Birkir  Bjarnason were both denied a leveller before the latter fired just wide and, once Fabian Schaer cleared off the line and Mvogo tipped over another Sigurdsson effort, it was clear there was to be no share of the spoils.

The final whistle confirmed Iceland would go down to the second tier of this competition.

It’s a difficult time for home coach Erik Hamren who is struggling – as many would – to get the national team on song and replicate the form of the last two years.

Two years in which they have reached new heights, including progressing to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 (with victories over England and a draw with European champions Portugal) and ensuring a nation which has just three months of sunlight each year rose 91 places in the FIFA rankings.

During the same period, the Swiss have been pretty steady without pulling up many trees and are back on top of the group – for now at least.

Key statistics

Iceland have now not won for virtually a year. Their last victory came in January with a 4-1 friendly success over Indonesia.

Their last win of any note was a World Cup qualifier in October last year when they saw off Turkey 3-0.

Switzerland have scored in 10 of their 12 matches in 2018, including against the likes of big hitters Belgium, Brazil and Spain. The only nations they have failed to find the net against are England and Sweden (in the World Cup last 16).

After their first three games in the group, Iceland have no points and a goal difference of minus 10.

This was Mvogo’s international debut for Switzerland – he was born in Cameroon.

What’s next?

The UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds were always against them and Iceland are now further adrift at the bottom of their group.

They travel to Belgium on November 15 before finishing off their 2018 programme four days later with a friendly in Qatar.

Switzerland also play Qatar (November 14) in a friendly before hosting Belgium on November 18 for a game which will almost certainly determine who finishes top of the group.

 

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18-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 2:39 PM (62 days ago)            #48
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UEFA Nations League: More Misery for Germany After France Fight Back

France 2-1 Germany

France came from behind to win a dramatic UEFA Nations League clash with Germany at the Stade de France in Paris, which lifts Les Bleus four points clear at the top of the group and leaves Germany in the mire.

Joachim Low’s beleaguered side had the better of the first half and went ahead through a Toni Kroos penalty, but France looked more like their selves in the second, and a brace from Antoine Griezmann won the points.

France are up there in the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds as a potential winner, and as World Champions, with Group A1 almost wrapped up. Who would argue with that?

Highlights of the game

Didier Deschamps named a superstar line-up and his team settled into its stride immediately. Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante were pulling the strings in midfield as Les Bleus got on the front foot, and Antoine Griezmann had the first pot at goal from distance.

Kylian Mbappe changed the course of France’s recent game against Iceland, climbing off the bench to rescue a draw. He’s the man of the moment in European football after an eye-catching World Cup and recently appearing on the cover of Time magazine. So all eyes were on him as he raced free and centred for Olivier Giroud, but his ball was just behind the Chelsea striker.

Kylian Mbappe and Les Bleus overcome Germany in their UEFA Nations League Group A1 clash
French wunderkid Kylian Mbappe dribbles past German defenders in their UEFA Nations League clash

Then came a shock, and you don’t often say that when Germany score! As Pogba dithered, Leroy Sane stole the ball. The ball struck a sliding Presnel Kimpembe on the arm as he headed for goal, and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Toni Kroos to slide the ball home. Game on!

The goal seemed to spark Germany and they dominated the first half like the World Champions they used to be while France looked strangely lacklustre. Sane’s pace was causing the French no end of problems, and Matthias Ginter came close with his effort from a corner.

France woke up minutes before the break and Griezmann almost put Mbappe in to score, but Manuel Neuer just beat him to the ball. Giroud then fired over when he had a great chance.

Former Germany defender Per Mertesacker has said that Joachim Low needs to find results quickly after such a bad World Cup, and he certainly got what he was looking for in the first 45.

I’m sure Didier Deschamps had a few things to say to his World Champions during the break. Whatever it was almost paid dividends on 53 minutes after Mbappe showed a brilliant turn of pace to run through on goal, but Neuer stood firm to save.

There was nothing the keeper could do on 62 minutes, however, when Griezmann glanced a beautiful header beyond his reach and into the top corner.

That changed the game: the favourites started to move the ball around more quickly and with greater intent while Germany began to look uncertain.

And France turned the game on its head on 80 minutes when Blaise Matuidi was hacked down by Mats Hummels in the penalty area to win a penalty, and up stepped Griezmann to fire home his second.

Low must wonder what he can do next to lift his team. Having exited the World Cup in the group stage, Germany now look favourites to be relegated in the Nations League. Strange times, indeed.

Key statistics

With France joint top and Germany joint 12th of the FIFA rankings, this was always a game Les Bleus should win at odds of 1.82 with SBOBET.

Low’s team had over 60 per cent possession in the first half, but France turned the game around and ended up winning the shot-count by 14 to 11.

France haven’t lost in five against Germany and are now unbeaten in 16 matches, while the Germans have lost six in 12. It’s the first time they’ve lost six games in a year.

Germany suffer their first loss in the UEFA Nations League after bowing down to the World Cup champions
Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Mueller walks off the pitch after losing to France at the Nations League

Toni Kroos was the fifth Germany penalty taker to score their last five penalties. Maybe they need a more settled team…

What’s next?

A resurgent Netherlands team destroyed Germany last week and will be ready to meet France in November when the two will fight it out for the top spot. You have to fancy the World Champions with a four-point advantage. But if they lose, they will rely on Germany, who then host the Netherlands after a friendly with Russia

Can it get any worse for Germany? Well, make sure you keep up with the UEFA Nations League 2018 news with us, right here at SBOBET.

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18-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 2:49 PM (62 days ago)            #49
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UEFA Nations League Results: Streaks Maintained, Streaks Lost

UEFA Nations League - League D

All of the participants in the UEFA Nations League have played their opponents at this point of the season, and fans now have a slight idea of how teams are shaping up in this new competition. Some fans are starting to warm up to the idea of the league system in place of international friendlies.

The nations competing in League D are especially loving the new attention they are getting and have put on some great performances to start the season. At one point, Georgia, Belarus, Kosovo and Macedonia were favoured by UEFA Nations League 2018 odds to make the jump to League C.

However, it seems that the table has changed a bit. Luxembourg have jumped over Belarus with a one-sided win while Azerbaijan are creeping up on Kosovo by keeping their undefeated streak alive.

It will be interesting to see how the league will shape up once the tournament is over, and you can be sure that SBOBET will be there to chronicle every result in this obscure but interesting league.

Group 1

Georgia have truly established their form in the Group, a run they have started since Day 1 of the competition. Their 0-3 dismantling of Latvia secured their promotion from Group D1 for the next Nations League tournament.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan have secured their status as the second-best nation in the group after dismantling Andorra to the tune of 4-0 in front of their home fans at the Astana Arena. While Jordi Alaez was ejected in the 64th minute, that does not take away from the superb performance of Stanimir Stoilov's men.

Highlight of the Group: Given that there were seven goals on show for that game, it was quite hard to pick a favourite. However, Jaba Kankava's first-time howitzer into the top-right corner of the goal is one that is hard to top.

Key statistics: Georgia are one of the two sides in League D that haven't conceded a goal in the competition, the other being Belarus. They are also the last team in the League to have won every single game they have played.

Group 2

Luxembourg made it to the Group C following their UEFA Nations League 0-3 victory over San Marino
Luxembourg midfielder Daniel Sinani during the UEFA Nations League match against San Marino

Group 2 bore witness to a surprise shake-up as Luxembourg retook the top spot from Belarus with a dominating win against San Marino at the Stade Josy Barthel. Great team football and a fantastic solo effort ensured that the Red Lions will get the three points. It also helped that Alex Gasperoni was ejected early in the second half.

Belarus were able to secure a point against Moldova and keep their win-loss record in the tournament unblemished, but their inability to score against their guests is something they'll rue if they fail to get themselves promoted.

Highlights of the Group: Danel Sinani scored the most beautiful goal in the group after he made space for himself amidst a sea of white kits and fired a long-distance cannon that escaped Elia Benedettini's hands. It was a great goal to redeem themselves from their bitter loss to Belarus.

Key statistics: Alexei Koselev is the biggest man in Group 2 after denying Belarus of countless goal opportunities in their draw. He stopped five goals from going in to help them leave Stadion Dinamo with a point.

Group 3

Group 3 is easily the tightest group in League D as both games ended in a 1-1 draw. Two points are all that separates Kosovo and Azerbaijan, and the Faroe Islands can possibly bounce back and make a stunning run to the top.

The final score isn't the only thing the two games share: the visitors took the lead in the first half, and the hosts caught up early in the second half. Milot Rashica and Rowen Muscat scored for their respective countries in the first half, while Rene Joensen and Araz Abdullayev were credited for the equalisers.

Highlight of the Group: Rashica's ninth-minute howitzer is a thing of beauty. He fired from at least 25 yards after the ball just rolled into his foot. The Werder Bremen midfielder will definitely not forget that goal any time soon.

Key statistics: Some of the people who watched the Azerbaijan match would say that Malta mugged them of the score after such a superb performance from the Milli. They dominated the ball with 64% possession and had 20 goal attempts with eight on target. They forced Andrew Hogg to make an impressive seven saves.

Group 4

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is enjoying life at Arsenal and is probably thrilled that his good fortune at the league has spilt over to his international duties.

Armenia's 4-0 victory over Macedonia is surely the most significant among the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights as their win places them closer to the group leaders. It also stopped their opponents from instant promotion.

Gibraltar are also gaining steam after losing their first two games of the Nations League by returning the favour to Liechtenstein and winning 2-1 at home. Dennis Salanovic struck first for the guests in the first half, but George Cabrera and Joseph Chipolina helped secure the W when it mattered.

Highlight of the Group: Henrikh Mkhitaryan reminded everyone in Group F why he is earning a huge £120,000 weekly wage. He is the architect behind two of the hosts' goals and added a strike of his own just for laughs.

Key statistic: Macedonia, who enjoyed high-scoring games over the last three fixtures, forgot their shooting boots for this match. They only had 10 shots compared to Armenia's 14, and only three of those shots were even on target.

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18-Oct 2018 Thursday @ 2:59 PM (62 days ago)            #50
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UEFA Nations League: Changes, Challenges Define League C!

UEFA Nations League – League C

While the two top-tier competitions of the UEFA Nations League continue to grab headlines, League C is also making its case as the most exciting division to watch.

The league may lack the high-profile teams comparable to Germany, France, Belgium, Wales, Sweden and the likes. However, when it comes to action-packed football and drama, League C isn't falling behind.

Matchday 3 already provided some thrilling games and storylines, and that continued this Matchday 4 with some League C teams keeping the fight close for the top spot, some taking over the lead, and another totally dominating the competition.

Seriously, what's not to love?

GROUP 1

The biggest talking point last week was Israel's controversial win over Scotland through a late own goal. Fans and pundits alike believe they do not deserve all three points in that match, so Israel came out with the hunger to win and shut down all their critics with a convincing performance against Albania.

Tomer Hemed opened the scoring for the Israelis on eight minutes before substitute Dia Saba closed the door to any chance of a comeback with a deflected shot from 20 yards.

Highlight of the Group: Goalkeeper Ariel Harush was the best player for Israel against Albania, and by far the most important. He parried away a Bekim Balaj header early in the game before setting up Hemed with a long pass for their first goal.

Harush denied another headed effort from Balaj after that, further frustrating the visitors who eventually went down 2-0.

Key statistics: The victory is only Israel's second win under new boss Andreas Herzog since he took over the national team last September. It is also their first back-to-back wins since the World Cup qualifiers back in 2016.

GROUP 2

Finland are just unstoppable, plain and simple. The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds at SBOBET had them chasing Greece for the top spot, but they quickly turned things around and established their domination in Group C2.

Now, the Finns stand atop the group with 12 points after blanking the Greeks 2-0 in their latest meeting. Pyry Soiri and Glen Kamara were both on target in the second half as Markku Kanerva's Finland pulled away for good.

On the other group match, Estonia and Hungary played out a pulsating 3-3 draw that saw the lead change three times. In the end, the two had to settle for a stalemate after Hungary skipper Adam Szalai completed his brace with an 81st-minute equaliser.

Highlight of the Group: While Finland's display is noteworthy, it's the Estonia-Hungary tie that deserves the spotlight. Szalai's performance was particularly impressive, keeping the Hungarians in the game throughout.

Szalai put his team ahead midway through the second half, and when they found themselves in trouble again, he rose up to the occasion and headed home off an Istvan Kovacs corner.

Key statistics: With their fourth straight clean sheet, Finland remain one of only four teams in the whole competition (from League A to D) not to concede a goal. They are also one of six teams that boast a perfect record (with four consecutive wins).

Estonia, meanwhile, logged their first points in the tournament.

GROUP 3

Norway beat Bulgaria 1-0 and took the top spot in the process by virtue of goal difference.

The Bulgarians saw little opportunity to score in the match, and after Mohamed Elyounoussi put the Norwegians ahead at the half hour, the visiting side was doomed.  All Norway had to do was play defence, and they did so impressively to move up to nine points.

Slovenia and Cyprus, for their part, played out a 1-1 draw in a highly physical and intense game that ended with 31 fouls committed.

Highlight of the Group: Norway are certainly satisfied with Elyounoussi's goal. The 24-year-old midfielder deservedly gave the hosts the lead after Omar Elabdellaoui sent him a cross which he converted from close range.

Key statistics: It's interesting to note that Norway had only one chance on target against Bulgaria and brilliantly made the most out of it. The most interesting statistic from the Group C3 match though is the six yellow cards and three red cards shown in the Slovenia-Cyprus encounter.

GROUP 4

Serbia were held to a goalless draw against Romania in the UEFA nations League
Serbia were lucky to snatch a point and maintain their lead in Group 4

Montenegro intensified the battle at the top of Group C4, thanks to their 1-4 thrashing of Lithuania and Serbia's goalless stalemate with Romania.

Stefan Mugosa scored twice in the first half to pace the Brave Falcons to victory. Lithuania's Rolandas Baravykas found the back of the net late in the game, but it was a mere consolation in a largely one-sided affair.

Meanwhile, Serbia failed to extend their lead at the top as Romania held them to a draw for the second time in the tournament.

Highlight of the Group: One of the key UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights of Matchday 4 is actually a lowlight. Dusan Tadic had a chance to win the game for Serbia from the penalty area, but he sent his first-half spot-kick high and way off the pitch.

Key statistics: Serbia dominated against Romania throughout, winning 66 percent of the possession, but were wasteful in front of the net. Their five offsides are a bit surprising, though.

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14-Nov 2018 Wednesday @ 12:58 PM (35 days ago)            #51
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UEFA Nations League: Another Game, Another Easy Win For Belgium?

Belgium vs Iceland

Belgium are almost through to the last four of the UEFA Nations League, and their match with struggling Iceland presents a great opportunity for them to get one step closer to making that a reality.

The Red Devils need just four points in their last two games to make it to the final round of the competition's top-tier league. With that said, a win against Iceland will leave the Belgians needing just a draw against Switzerland to secure the top spot in Group A2.

Iceland aren't in their best form right now though, and it might take a miracle and a lot of prayers for them to pull off a momentous upset against the top-ranked nation in the world.

Talking Points

Seriously, who can stop Belgium right now? They are the best team in the world and recently edged out France in the rankings to claim the solo lead at the top.

While they did lose to the French in the semi-finals of the World Cup, they have been undefeated since then. They even went on a four-game winning streak before playing out a 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands last month.

Belgium thrashed Iceland in their first game in this tournament—grabbing the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights with a dominant 0-3 away win at the Reykjavik—and it's likely that they will be able to replicate that success when they play at home.

Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard scored in that victory, and Coach Roberto Martinez will surely rely on his star strikers to produce for the team once again.

While there are injury concerns on the two players, they are still included in the squad and are expected to be in action—though a limited playing time or a substitute role could be an option given their recent setbacks.

Romelu Lukaku hopes to play for Belgium against Iceland in their aim to reach the UEFA Nations League final
Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring a goal for Belgium during the 2018 World Cup

Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen are out for the team due to injuries while Marouane Fellaini has been omitted due to a lack of fitness, but Belgium are deep enough to survive the absences. The so-called "Golden Generation" has the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Dedryck Boyata, Thomas Meunier and Axel Witsel to pick up the slack.

Against the best team, Iceland will hope that everything will go in their favour. The past few months after the World Cup hasn't been kind to them, losing three times and drawing once in their past four matches.

The small Nordic island nation captured the hearts of many with their displays in the Euro 2016—a performance that soon translated to a first-ever appearance in the world stage.

However, new Iceland manager Erik Hamren failed to continue what Heimir Hallgrimsson started and seemingly set the team on their way to disaster. The nation—nicknamed Our Boys—kicked off the Hamren era with a 0-6 defeat to Switzerland and everything went downward spiral for them after that.

The Icelanders showed some spirit when they held reigning World Cup champions France to a 2-2 friendly draw, but that was the best result they could muster under Hamren. They have already conceded 13 goals so far and scored just three under the new boss.

It remains to be seen how the team will adjust defensively against Belgium in their second meeting this year, though hopes aren't high that they can put up a fight.

History

If Iceland fans want a further reminder of how one-sided this affair is, they need not look further than their head-to-head record. Out of their 10 meetings overall, Iceland have never won or played out a draw—NEVER.

Belgium won all matches between the two European sides, with their last three finishing with at least a two-goal lead. Besides their September meeting this year, the Belgians also won in a friendly game in 2014  with a 3-1 scoreline.

Belgium have been solid at home as well, last losing at Stade Roi Baudouin in 2016 against Spain. They are currently riding a 14-game unbeaten streak at home.

Betting Tip

??

Belgium vs Iceland Belgium Correct Score 2-0 @ 5.40
November 16, 03:45 (GMT+8)

It's easy to see why the UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds at SBOBET favour Belgium. Besides, who will bet against the No.1 team?

With all due respect to Iceland, they can undoubtedly produce moments of magic. They also have a penchant for upsetting big teams (case in point: their 1-1 draw with Argentina). Unfortunately, I just haven't seen enough to convince myself that they can do it in Brussels.

Not to mention there is nothing left for them to fight for (aside from their pride) as they have already been relegated to League B.

I predict Belgium to get another victory here, though injuries to key players will likely affect the team and slow them a bit.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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14-Nov 2018 Wednesday @ 5:00 PM (35 days ago)            #52
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UEFA Nations League: Koeman Plans to Lift the Oranje Nation

Netherlands vs France

The world champions are virtually home and hosed as far as the UEFA Nations League is concerned.

Very few SBOBET fans or tipsters would predict them finishing in anything but the top spot in Group A1.

Nonetheless, should the Netherlands manage to upset France in Rotterdam, it would provide one of the UEFA Nations League 2018 news stories to date.

Talking Points

The Netherlands have already shown they can beat the best on home soil. While a closer game than the scoreline suggested, last month’s 3-0 victory over Germany was proof of that.

Now, they need to win again to maintain their hopes of winning the group.

France are keen to maintain their dominant form when they head to UEFA Nations League
France players lift the trophy after their 4-2 win against Croatia at the 2018 World Cup

France only need a draw to progress and, in theory, would then have a more straightforward passage to Euro 2020.

The atmosphere inside the Stade De Kuip on Friday night will certainly be lively as the favourite son of Dutch football, Ronald Koeman, tries to restore the good days and return his nation to the top table of international football.

It’s easy to forget that Koeman has more pedigree than many realise.

He was coached by the legendary Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff and Guus Hiddink. Furthermore, he remains the only person to have not only played for but also managed the Dutch ‘Big Three’ of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord.

Yet, his own management career has been little more than mediocre, so his job is about strengthening his reputation as much as reinvigorating the poor performances of the national team.

He has placed his faith mainly on youth so far, with the likes of Memphis Depay, Justin Kluivert, Quincy Promes, Denzel Dumfries, Frenkie de Jong and Steven Bergwijn all getting game time as Koeman builds momentum.

Momentum that is much needed after four years of misery since Louis van Gaal guided them to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.

Then there are the more experienced men shining such as Liverpool duo Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Dutch football has long been tied up with issues of style and identity.

Indeed, the Total Football revolution of the early 1970s under Michels still defines Dutch football, and memories of that continue to shape perceptions of what football ought to be.

However, the grim post-Van Gaal years of failing to qualify for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup have led to much soul-searching. Koeman seems to be lifting spirits again, slowly but surely.

This is a key barometer.

Back to France briefly.

It is this observers’ belief that, while France won a superb World Cup, they did so by being the best of a number of nations where the quality had dropped from the tournament four years previously.

That is not the fault of Didier Deschamps, of course, but does this French team really live up to some of the world champions of the past?

It’s good to talk!

History

Their most recent meeting two months ago went the way of the world champions on their triumphant return to Paris.

Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud netted in a 2-1 win to spark a mini-run which has put them on the brink of sealing top spot in the group.

Of the 27 meetings between these nations, Les Bleus have the edge with 14 wins to Holland's10 successes and three draws.

Two of those victories came in qualifying for this summer’s World Cup—a tournament the French memorably triumphed while the Oranje were at home watching the action.

Funnily enough, though, the Dutch have not been beaten in their most recent competitive meetings.

In Euro 2000, a tournament the French went on to win, the Netherlands ran out 3-2 winners in the group stage. Fans of a certain vintage will nostalgically remember the goalscorers that night: Patrick Kluivert, Frank de Boer and Bolo Zenden.

Holland also romped to a 4-1 success at Euro 2008, but they were knocked out by Russia in the quarter-finals.

Betting Tip

??

Netherlands vs France 1X2 Draw @ 3.15
November 17, 03:45 (GMT+8)

UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds give France the edge as expected. The1X2 market has Les Bleus winning at 2.31, with the Dutch backed at 3.00 and the draw at 3.15.

However, I think a draw is a more likely result. Sure enough, there is a certain appeal with Asian Handicap betting for the Netherlands Draw No Bet @ 2.25—whereas France are priced -0.25 @ 2.06.

Over 2.75 goals will also get you odds of 2.08. A low-scoring affair is unlikely given that Total Goal 0-1 is priced at 3.45.

Moreover, a repeat of France’s 2-1 win with correct score will pay out at 8.25.

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15-Nov 2018 Thursday @ 2:59 PM (34 days ago)            #53
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UEFA Nations League: Can Croatia Avenge Their Humiliating Loss?

Croatia vs Spain

There are plenty of superb football games to catch this week. If you're looking for a great match with a bombastic storyline to match, I reckon that there are only a few matches that can outdo the hype produced by the upcoming UEFA Nations League duel between Croatia and Spain.

La Furia Roja have gone through a resurgence of form after going through a controversial FIFA World Cup but stumbled a bit as of late. Meanwhile, the Vatreni have gone through a mixed bag of results after making one of the most improbable runs in the tournament.

Both teams boast outstanding players that can play brilliantly on any given day. While their prior match was a rather one-sided affair, the dignity of the World Cup runner-ups cannot be easily extinguished. Moreover, the Spaniards haven't played their best football in their last Nations League match

Will the World Cup runners-up be able to avenge their embarrassing defeat to the Spaniards? Or will the Spanish red fly high at the Stadion Maksimir?

Talking Points

Spain still struggling for stability

Spain have thrived a bit under Luis Enrique after their embarrassing World Cup exit, but that doesn't mean they finally found the right formula to help them succeed in the tournament.

While La Roja currently sit atop League A Group 4 with six points, their surprise defeat to England in last month's drama-filled game has left the door open for the Three Lions and Vatreni to make the battle more interesting.

The biggest problem for the former Barcelona coach that was exposed by the England game is finding the right replacement for Gerard Pique. The Barcelona centre-half has called it quits on his international career, and his quality at the back hasn't been replaced yet. There are plenty of options to pair up with team skipper Sergio Ramos, but it remains to be seen which man will be standing beside him against Croatia.

The most recent Spanish delegation might also be something a good number of Spanish footballing fans should be concerned about. The team's current iteration is again different in composition, with plenty of players previously not called up for the October games getting the nod this time around.

Of course, this can be seen as a testament to Spain's ability to produce top-quality talents. However, it can also be seen as a valid worry for some that Enrique hasn't still found his best team. Fans will be hopeful that Spain find the right mix soon, as Croatia will be a good challenge.

Can Croatia Crack Past the Spaniards?

With Spain struggling to find consistency, the normal SBOBET UEFA Nations League punter would think that this is the perfect time for Croatia to take the momentum and bring the table into a further state of chaos.

However, even I doubt this current Croatia team would be able to stomp the Spaniards the way they are at the moment. They failed to grab a victory against England in a closed-door game as their Nations League game ended goallessly. That result compounds a horrible run of form that has beleaguered the team since losing to France in the final.

However, the Vatreni could be coming to this game with great confidence. Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic awarded the World Cup runners-up the Order of Duke Trpimir with Neck Badge and Morning Star, one of the highest honours that can be given by the Republic.

With Luka Modric, Ante Rebic, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren ready to suit up for Croatia, the Vatreni will be ready to roll out against the Spaniards. If they want to avenge their embarrassing loss last time out, they must make a stand here.

History

Croatia have struggled to find their footing after coming up short against France losing or drawing against equal opposition. While their latest friendly has been a successful one, there's no doubt that their triumph over Jordan is nothing but a pick-me-up. Meanwhile, Spain have won almost every game they have played since exiting the World Cup sans their England game.

La Furia Roja also stand atop the Croats when it comes to their head-to-heads. Of the seven games they have played, four of those were won by the Spaniards. Croatia won two, and their friendly draw in 2000 is the only split in the two teams' footballing history.

However, the latest match between the two gives extra fuel for both nations to push harder in this match. Spain scored three goals in each half as Croatia were rendered helpless in their attempts to defend their goal.

Betting Tip

??

Croatia vs Spain Over 2.50 Goals @ 2.19
November 16, 03:45 (GMT+8)

The picture painted by Croatia vs Spain odds showcase Spain as the slight leaders. They have a slightly better squad compared to their hosts and have played much better football during the second half of the year.

However, it is important to note that fans will be in attendance in this game, and Croatia supporters will be eager to cheer for their national team. I think this game will be a tight game. I reckon a couple of goals to be scored in this match, with Spain edging them out with a late goal from either Marco Asensio or Alvaro Morata.

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15-Nov 2018 Thursday @ 3:01 PM (34 days ago)            #54
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UEFA Nations League Wales vs Denmark: Can Giggs Do It Again at Home?

Wales vs Denmark

Wales are in an interesting place if we consider world football.

They have one of the biggest legends to ever play for the Dragons in charge at the touchline. They have one of the world's best in Gareth Bale. They have top-quality youth talent coming up through the ranks to help push the national team forward.

While Giggs' Wales haven't proven much yet, the fact that the UEFA Nations League: Wales vs Denmark is already billed as one of the most exciting fixtures in the international break proves just how big of an expectation there is on Giggs' men. I'd love to think that his lads will be up for the challenge as their opponents will be prepared for whatever they throw their way.

Will the Dragons be able to walk away from the Cardiff City Stadium in smiles? Or will the Danish Dynamite prove their dominance once more in what is expected to be another tough game?

Talking Points

Wales: The Dragons Roar Anew

The buzzing positivity that took over the nation after Wales' overwhelming triumph over Republic of Ireland has diminished a bit, but the hype surrounding Giggs' team is still to fully dissipate into heavy criticism. There's still a heavy belief among the fans that the former Manchester United man can finally bring the Dragons back to the biggest stages of world football.

Of course, not everything has been rosy for them. Their 1-4 humiliation to a visiting Spain side showed the team and the crowd the amount of improvement they still have to make if they want to make it to the top of the FIFA rankings.

Whether or not they succeed against the Danish Dynamite will be highly dependent on the availability of Gareth Bale. The Real Madrid star is going through treatment after suffering an ankle injury during Real Madrid's Celta Vigo win. Bale will be a key loss if he's not deemed fit to play, but it's not like the Dragons will be out of quality players to deal with Denmark.

Sam Vokes will be able to bring in goals in place of Bale. Matt Smith is a young talent that has been making noise in Manchester City's youth program. David Brooks is a great boon for the Welsh midfield as the Bournemouth midfielder is making waves for both club and country.

 I don't think Wales would perform horribly without Bale in front of their faithful crowd. However, things would be much better if they had their star man ready to duel it out with the best Denmark have to offer.

Denmark: Begin a Solid Away Form in Wales

Denmark have done reasonably well after narrowly losing to Croatia in the World Cup's knockout stages, but Age Hareide wants more out of his Danish Dynamites. Their last Nations League result was a bore draw against Republic of Ireland that saw the Boys in Green holding down the fort as Denmark struggled to find the back of the net.

Christian Eriksen is all set to lead his side and win in the upcoming UEFA Nations League Wales vs Denmark fixture
Denmark players Kasper Dolberg, Christian Eriksen and Andreas Christensen stand on the pitch during their World Cup match with France last June

However, we must remember that that clash was done without their key man, Christian Eriksen, running things up the middle of the Danish midfield. Should the Tottenham midfielder have started that game, the match could have easily become one of the most lopsided results in the tournament.

They are billed as slight underdogs ahead of this match, as the draw exposed their lack of creative options in the final third. With that being said, Eriksen is approaching this game with the mentality of "a big cup final". Denmark will win an important three points and superb away form if they win in Cardiff.

The team will be extra wary of Wales regardless of Bale getting the go-ahead from the team doctors. If the game starts with two of the best players in European football ready to play, we have one of the potentially most interesting Wales vs Denmark results in our hands.

History

There isn't much separating the two football-crazy nations when it comes to head-to-head history. Of the nine games played, Denmark won five of those, and no draws have been made as of yet. There's not much separating the two goal-wise, with Wales' eight just two short of Denmark's 10-goal tally.

Denmark have had the more consistent form, getting good results in three of their last four matches after their World Cup exit. Meanwhile, Wales ceded six goals and scored only once in between their matches against Republic of Ireland.

Betting Tip

??

Wales vs Denmark Wales Asian Handicap
-0.25 @ 2.33
November 17, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Wales vs Denmark odds at leading bookies like SBOBET favour Wales due to the recent draw Denmark endured against Ireland. Moreover, the Cardiff City Stadium should be loud as ever as Giggs try to get the three points.

I think Wales should have enough quality and passion moving forward to overtake a very capable Denmark team and finish their maiden Nations League voyage at the top of their group.

If you're interested in other markets, the 1X2 market has Wales @ 2.67. If you favour a repeat of what Denmark did last time out, though, a 0-2 Correct Score is available at a lip-smacking 13.50.

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16-Nov 2018 Friday @ 1:44 PM (33 days ago)            #55
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UEFA Nations League: An All-Important Match for the Top Spot!

Italy vs Portugal

Portugal already have one hand on the top spot of Group A3 in the UEFA Nations League, but the fight isn't over yet as Italy still have a chance—albeit slim—of toppling them from the summit.

The Portuguese need only a draw at the San Siro to secure their place in the tournament final. However, an Italy home win will see the Azzurri go no.1 and leave Portugal needing a victory against Poland in the final game of the group stage.

Italy, of course, will be determined to get all three points and boost their chances of winning another international silverware. After all, their players are hungrier than ever after missing last summer's World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Talking Points

Where's Ronny?

Unarguably one of the best football players in the world right now, Cristiano Ronaldo didn't join the Portugal squad in the opening games of the tournament. The nation's top scorer opted to stay with his new team, Juventus, as he adapts to his new environment.

Nevertheless, there were reports that Ronaldo could re-join the reigning European champions in this game, considering that it will be held in Italy where he is currently plying his trade.

Unfortunately, the 33-year-old striker was once again omitted from Fernando Santos' squad—with the latest reports claiming that he will return to international duty next year.

While the Portuguese could do without their talisman, as they have proven in their past two games, there's no doubt that his presence would have been a welcome boost to the team.

To recall, Portugal won over the Italians, albeit by just one goal. The Azzurri held them for the most part as their usual deadly attack was nowhere to be found.

Ronaldo, for his part, has already hit nine goals and made five assists for the Bianconeri this 2018-19 campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be once again absent from international duty as they face Italy in the UEFA Nations League Cristiano Ronaldo in action during Juventus' game against AC Milan in the Serie A

With the absence of the so-called CR7, Portugal are likely to lean on the "Silvas" to spark the nation's frontline. Sevilla striker Andre Silva grabbed the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights when he scored the winner against Italy, and he followed it up with an equaliser against Poland.

On the other hand, Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva was also on target against the Poles to help keep Portugal undefeated in the competition.

Old and new faces combine in Italy

Italy will also be without a "renowned" player, but it's a player of a different level in a whole different situation.

Controversial striker Mario Balotelli, who made his return to international duty against Saudi Arabia last March, was not included in Roberto Mancini's latest squad. The 28-year-old OGC Nice forward has been struggling for form and looked out of sorts in their September encounter with Poland.

Balotelli wasn't part of the team that played against Ukraine and Poland in October, and Mancini remained firm with his decision as he excluded the player again.

The new Italy boss, however, continues his rebuild and focuses on youth this time. Mancini called up three new players for this crucial match, headed by teenage sensation Sandro Tonali.

Tonali, who is playing as a midfielder for Serie B outfit Brescia, has often drawn comparisons to Serie A legend Andre Pirlo for his look and playing style. And his passing and ability to dictate the tempo of the game will be valuable additions to the team.

Besides the 18-year-old rising star, Sassuolo midfielder Stefano Sensi and Hoffenheim forward Vincenzo Grifo have also been named to the Italy international team.

The three players are expected to complement and provide much-needed depth behind the likes of Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Giorgio Chiellini who are expected to lead the team's attempt to get to the top.

History

It's safe to say Italy have history on their side. Out of their 26 meetings overall, Italy have won 18 times and lost just six, with the other two ending in a draw.

In fact, the Azzurri have once gone on a six-game winning streak against the Portuguese from 1993 to 2008.

Nevertheless, while that may be the case, Portugal have the present. In their two meetings at the turn of 2010, the Navigators won in both occasions by a 1-0 scoreline.

The two nations are also far from each other in the FIFA rankings. Portugal are the seventh best team in the world right now, while Italy are currently 19th—a slight improvement from their 20th place before the World Cup.

Betting Tip

??

Italy vs Portugal Portugal 1X2 @ 3.20
November 18, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Italy are always hard to beat at home. They last lost on their turf in 2016, against France, so it's not that startling to see the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds at SBOBET swinging in their favour.

Despite that though, I doubt Santos' charges will let loose of their grip on the top spot. They know they need to score only one and defend throughout to ensure their place, and I think that is what's going to happen here.

I'm not counting out a draw too, but I do think Portugal have a slight edge.

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16-Nov 2018 Friday @ 1:53 PM (33 days ago)            #56
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UEFA Nations League Review: Jedvaj is Croatia’s Saviour!

Croatia 3-2 Spain

This game was supposed to be Croatia's swan song at the top of the UEFA Nations League. It was hard to forget what Spain did last time out, and their previous result against England didn't really give them any encouraging signs.

However, a man named Tin Jedvaj decided to put his big-boy boots on and stun both his team and his opponents as he scored two important goals to help keep their Nations League hopes alive!

There's definitely no doubt that Jedvaj's name is on the mouth of every Croatian football fan at the moment. What he did was simply spectacular!

Highlights of the game

Both teams played the strongest XIs they could field, and the Stadion Maksimir crowd was in full support for their lads as the game began. Many were especially looking forward to the duel between Real Madrid team-mates Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos. Both are captaining their sides, and Modric spoke highly of the defender.

The game started with Spain and Croatia trading blows in the early minutes of the match. La Furia Roja wanted to stoke the flames of Croatia's painful defeat anew and did everything they can to put themselves in an advantageous position.

However, Croatia were the ones who first got their scoring opportunity. Ivan Perisic got a hold of the football and fired a low effort to the bottom-left corner. However, David de Gea managed to produce a superb save to deny the shot.

Perisic had another shot at goal in the 14th minute when he beat the defence once more. However, his toe-poke of a goal attempt flew past the right post.

From that point on, though, the flow of the game ebbed towards the Spaniards. They had a superb midfield and were making precise passes into the box. Croatia were clinging defensively as Sergi Roberto, Rodrigo and Jordi Alba made prying moves deep in the Croatian half.

The first half ended with seemingly no UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights being made. Luis Enrique understood how important of a game this is for their Nations League hopes, and a positive result here would have secured the victory of their group. He motivated his team to do better in the reset.

That's exactly what the Spaniards did. They upped the pressure and made more elaborate build-ups that started from the back. The momentum was on the up, and this was a type of game that would eventually snag a goal. While the goal did arrive, it came from an unexpected source.

A safe clearance from the David de Gea saw the football with the right side of the Spanish backline in the 54th minute. They passed the ball around, but a Croat shirt was able to intercept the football. Andre Kramaric was quick to latch himself to the ball, run towards the goal and produced a near-post shot that beat De Gea.

The progress was against the run of play, and live UEFA Nations League odds were rattled by the action witnessed. However, La Furia Roja were able to quickly get back on the game two minutes later. They crowded the Croatian box, and Isco found a running Daniel Ceballos. With a Croatian defender latched onto him, the Real Madrid man was able to find the back of the net.

It definitely blew the wind out of Croatia's sails, but their captain had something to say about that. Luka fired a beautiful cross from the left onto the far post. Tin Jedvaj, a young full-back plying his trade at Bayer Leverkusen, rushed in and headed the ball past the Manchester United stopper. The stadium roared to life as they celebrated.

Another Madrid star stole the nation's thunder once more, though. Sime Vrsaljko committed a handball inside the box, and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot. The crowd jeered as the centre-back prepared his shot. Lovre Kalinic, who was making good saves in the game, was sent the other way as Ramos masterfully fired the second goal.

UEFA Nations League : Sergio Ramos scored an equaliser for Spain with an unstoppable penalty kick
Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring the penalty for Spain against Croatia

It seemed like all hope is lost for the hosts as they struggled to get going against a resolute Spanish side, but Jedvaj shone once more and scored in the most emphatic fashion.

Two minutes into added time, the Croatia attack fired shot after shot to the Spanish goal, but De Gea and the defence were making some important stops. Josip Brekalo made a low-driven shot that was brilliantly saved by De Gea, but Jedvaj was there once again to run to the rebound unmarked and score the third goal.

Zlatko Dalic was absolutely delighted. Everyone ran towards the 22-year-old. The 32,500 in attendance at Stadion Maksimir were shouting Jedvaj's name. He is the hero who helped Croatia complete their sweetest revenge.

Key Statistics

With the bounty of goals we got in this game, it's incredible that all of them were scored in only 40 minutes of second-half play. Spain had 61% possession and had the goals to show off their effectiveness, but the Croats had their number as they were caught offside four times.

Croatia were pesky on the attack, making 16 goal attempts with seven of those on target. They also forced De Gea, arguably the best keeper in the game, to make four fantastic saves in his 90 minutes of action.

What's next?

Everyone, from casual football fans to calculated SBOBET punters, is already buzzing about what this result means in their Nations League campaign. While Spain are still ahead by two points, a positive result for Croatia against England would mean La Roja ceding their top spot in the league.

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28-Nov 2018 Wednesday @ 6:12 PM (21 days ago)            #57
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UEFA Nations League: Red Devils Have a Point to Prove

Switzerland vs Belgium

The UEFA Nations League Group A2 reaches its climax at the Swissporarena in Lucerne on Sunday, where Belgium take on Switzerland in a winner-takes-all match.

The Red Devils are the best side in the world, according to FIFA, a position they have occupied frequently in recent years. But they still haven’t won anything. Surely, these world-class players will emerge from the shadows of tournament winners and shake off the mantle of nearly men pretty soon.

When you look at the riches Roberto Martinez has at his disposal in Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku…we could go on…it’s becoming high time that Belgium turned potential into silverware. Okay, it’s not the World Cup, but why not start with the Nations League? Win something, anything, and it can become a habit.

The Group A2 UEFA Nations League 2018 results so far mean Martinez’ men just need a point in Lucerne, and that is the least they should expect against a Switzerland side which is solid but not spectacular.

Talking points

Switzerland is no longer unbeatable

Vladimir Petkovic’s side has long had a reputation of being a tough nut to crack. Defeat to Sweden in the World Cup Round of 16 was only their second defeat in 26 games, a run which had taken them up to sixth in the world rankings. But losing has become more habitual since their return from Russia. The Swiss have already lost a game in this tournament, being their 2-1 loss to Roberto Martinez’ team, to add to defeats to England, Qatar and Sweden.

Granit Xhaka look forward to beat Belgium in their home as they clash in UEFA Nations League
Granit Xhaka struggles to control the ball against Assim Madebo

But you don’t become a pushover overnight, and Switzerland won’t make it easy for Belgium. The Red Devils’ Premier League contingent knows very well that Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka is toughness personified. And Petkovic has a real jewel in his ranks. Since his transfer from Stoke City to title contenders Liverpool, Xherdan Shaqiri has become a more complete player. The attacking midfielder scored in the Reds' win over Fulham last weekend, becoming a favourite among Liverpool fans. And his dead-ball delivery makes set-piece situations a real threat.

Belgium must add steel to style

The UEFA Nations League 2018 odds are stacked in favour of the Red Devils reaching the last four of the tournament after a hard-fought 2-0 win over Iceland on Thursday. But Roberto Martinez' men can learn something from the Swiss: how to tough it out and make the most of your talent.

Can Michy Batshuayi score against Switzerland in UEFA Nations League?
Michy Batshuayi’s goal put Belgium in top place in UEFA Nations League

Belgium had a very useful test against the stubborn Icelanders, and Michy Batshuayi had an outstanding game, scoring a second-half brace. Thomas Meunier played a brilliant ball to put a goal on a plate for Batshuayi, and he is becoming an ever-increasing influence in the Belgium side. The PSG wing-back scored the fastest Belgian goal in World Cup history at Russia 2018, and he’ll give the Swiss back line a severe test.

History

Belgium come into this clash in superb form, with three wins from three in the competition. They also won their last five games away from home. In contrast, Switzerland has three of their last four but have kept eight clean sheets in the last 11 home games. But the Red Devils have a strong record against the Swiss. In the four games played since 1988, they have won three and drawn one, so Switzerland need to break that mould to progress any further in the Nations League.

Betting tip

??

Switzerland vs Belgium Over 2.25 goals @1.80
November 19, 3:45 (GMT+8)
This looks like being a great game; and with SBOBET odds of Switzerland at 3.25 the draw at 3.20 and Belgium at 2.19, every result is possible. Form is very much in the Red Devils’ favour, but home advantage counts for a lot, and a win on Swiss soil would reinforce Belgium’s reputation as the world’s best team. It is difficult to score against them for sure, but Petkovic’s side has shown it can score plenty, too, in a recent 6-0 destruction of Iceland. Belgium have attacking flair in buckets, and both of them need a win: the Red Devils for reputation and the Swiss for progress. And that is why I expect an entertaining game. I just can’t see Belgium coming to shut up shop, and their aim will simply be to score more than their opponents. Five of the six games involving Belgium and Switzerland in the Nations League have yielded over 2.50 goals, and I think we may well have another one here.

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28-Nov 2018 Wednesday @ 6:36 PM (20 days ago)            #58
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UEFA Nations League Preview: A Grand Finale for Pride and Glory!

England vs Croatia

Not everyone expected such a compelling story to end one of the most competitive UEFA Nations League groups in the tournament's debut season, but I don't think many of the fans who have grown to like this new approach for the international break would like this happening any other way.

Spain blew their chances of ending at the top of their group as Croatia gave us plenty of UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights in their recently concluded game. With their fate now in their hands, the Vatreni head to England's holy ground to do battle with the Three Lions.

The recent history between these two teams already makes for big drama ahead of the game as England may have felt robbed of the opportunity of their lives during the summer by Croatia. Meanwhile, the visitors will be eager to prove that their magical summer form didn't stay behind in Russia.

A win here will see either nation stand atop their group. This is probably the most important three points they've seen since that Russia semi-final. Which side will emerge victorious?

Talking Points

Croatia: Make England Bite the Dust at Wembley!

Croatia must be buzzing after the fantastic display of football they displayed against Spain in their return fixture. The second-half resurgence from the Croats is something that plenty of fans in the country were hoping for, but they must now focus on the task ahead.

They might not love the idea that they have to face the Three Lions once again on the way to glory, but it's not like they're shaking in their boots against this Three Lions team.

Croatia are more than familiar with the England national team as they faced each other in the semi-final. It was a big tussle that saw the ball head to extra time. Mario Mandzukic pulled off an incredible goal during extra time in order to secure the goal.

Of course, that game was not all cheers as Ivan Rakitic emphatically remembers wanting to stop the Football's Coming Home chants with his Croatian brothers. The Barcelona midfielder said of the tactical adjustments they made in the game that helped them pull off the victory.

Of course, Rakitic will be a key man for the Croatian team once more. Luka Modric will be a central figure in Zlatko Dalic's midfield-heavy formation. Tin Jedvaj is also a superb option on offence and defence that can bring in goals the same way he did during their fantastic comeback against La Furia Roja.

However, it is important to remember that they weren't able to stop the retooled Three Lions when they met in an empty stadium last time out. Of course, the victory would be all the more sweet for Croatia if they stomp the Three Lions in their own home, the fabled Wembley.

England: Can They Rock the Croat Boats?

 The Three Lions are in incredible form at the moment, and not a single eyebrow will be raised if Gareth Southgate's men ever take the three points in their last group game. They have showcased incredible class from the bottom to the top, and this England team hasn't looked this dangerous in quite a while.

At the centre of this team is Harry Kane. The Tottenham ace wasn't cutting out to be the most impressive person during their semi-final defeat, but he has become an important core in this team. Without Kane leading the team from the front, this England side wouldn't be as terrifying to play against.

Can Callum Wilson match his International debut performance as they face Croatia in UEFA Nations League this Sunday?
Callum Wilson in action during their match against USA

Kane isn't the only man Croatia have to be wary of, of course. There is a rich pool of talent Southgate can choose from, and his current team looks like they are meant to win football games. During their friendly triumph over America, Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson flourished and made their impacts known.

This Three Lions team will be hoping that they will be able to bring cheers to the countrymen who will come see them play at Wembley.

History

Their World Cup semi-final is the biggest fixture out of the nine games they have played in the two countries' head-to-head history. The game was a close affair that showed just how close the two countries are in terms of talent and coaching. England's four wins and Croatia's three also showcase the tightness of the contest.

It is also important to note that both teams have won their last two games, one of those were against Spain in their Nations League fixtures. This result has opened the table for the two countries.

Betting Tip

??

England vs Croatia Total Goals 4-6 @ 3.05
November 18, 22:00 (GMT+8)

Both of these teams have been scoring goals as of late as they both have outstanding attacking units. I don't doubt the ability of both teams to get goals at the drop of the hat, and I see a highly entertaining game to the end of this group.

The SBOBET UEFA Nations League market have more interesting England vs Croatia odds if you are looking for other opportunities to win. England get 2.13 for a -0.75 Asian Handicap. Over 2.75 Goals is at 2.08, while a repeat of their 0-0 draw last time out has 11.00.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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28-Nov 2018 Wednesday @ 6:42 PM (20 days ago)            #59
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UEFA Nations League Review: Not Even Bale Can Stop the Danish Dynamite

Wales 1-2 Denmark

It was a much-anticipated battle between two of the more intriguing sides in the UEFA Nations League.

It was billed as a must-win for the hosts against a team that has comfortably beaten them once. Some saw this as a grand duel between Gareth Bale and Christian Eriksen.

While the game did provide its share of thrills and spills, it was Denmark that would triumph once more. Bale definitely gave them the scare, but the Danish Dynamite did just enough to secure the three points.

Highlights of the game

Wales forward Gareth Bale wants a UEFA Nations League win against Denmark
Wales talisman Gareth Bale reacts during the UEFA Nations League defeat against Denmark

With promotion to the prestigious League A at stake for the winning team, there was no question that both nations put a premium on getting the most positive UEFA Nations League 2018 results. Both Age Hareide and Ryan Giggs used their best rosters to get the all-important three points.

It seemed like Denmark would continue having fun against the Dragons as they had the first bit of action. Christian Eriksen got a pass from the edge of the box and fired his shot. However, the ball flew over the crossbar by only a whisker.

Of course, the Wales team didn't want to be shown up in the Cardiff City Stadium and got on with their attack. Tom Lawrence made a beautiful pass into the box, and James Chester beat his marker to send a powerful header towards the left power. Unfortunately for him, the ball flew just wide the intended destination.

The game continued to be a close one as both teams played good, organised football. There wasn't anything completely separating the two sides, and the crowd has been showered with top stuff from two of world football's great teams.

Gareth Bale almost gave his home fans something to cheer for when he got a lofted pass from Connor Roberts on the edge of the six-yard box. However, the Real Madrid man would share the fate of the 29-year-old defender and see his header fly wide of the left post.

That missed opportunity would turn out to be one they regret not converting as Nicolai Jorgensen struck first for the Danish Dynamite. A quick counter saw Yussuf Poulsen make a beautiful lob pass for the Feyenoord forward to quickly dash to the box. He easily beat an out-of-position Wayne Hennessey with a low-driven shot to the bottom-left corner.

The first half ended with the Cardiff City Stadium stunned on their feet. They were playing just fine until the goal, but the sudden arrival of the opener definitely put a dent on their hopes of making it to the next league.

However, it seemed like Giggs managed to pull his boys back together during the half-time break and repeat what they did in their first game against Ireland. The fans deserved at least that much from them, and it seemed like the boys responded positively to his calls.

David Brooks, the young Wales midfielder who scrapped his way to the top of the English football pyramid, created two brilliant chances that almost got the Dragons back in the game. He forced Kasper Schmeichel to make a fantastic save in the 53rd minute, and his subsequent long-range range effort five minutes later just flew wide of the left post.

Wales would continue to play heavy attacking football against the Danes as they searched for the equaliser. They had another shot at glory in the 84th minute when Wales had a corner. Bale launched towards the corner with a header only to be denied again. The ball hit the post and headed to Schmeichel's grateful arms.

It would turn out to be another regret for Wales as Martin Braithwaite got control of a cross into the Wales box and launched a rocket to the top-right corner. There was nothing Hennessey could do about the goal; it was simply the stuff of dreams.

It was immediately after that goal that Bale showcased his wares. A long ball was launched to the Denmark box. The Real Madrid forward collected the ball after beating his mark. He made a brilliant first touch that beat the Leicester stopper and slotted the ball to the goal.

Wales would doggedly try another comeback, but time was against their side. The Danish Dynamite were determined to end things the way it is and engaged in delaying tactics. While it is to the chagrin of the supporters, they cannot blame Hareide's side taking the easy way out against an impressive Wales side that showed some fight in them.

Key statistics

There is just a stark difference between the two halves in terms of content. The first half saw Denmark dominate with 52% possession, with only two of their eight shot attempts on target. The second half saw Wales take over the attack. They made 10 goal attempts and made six shot attempts on target, forcing five incredible saves from Schmeichel.

The increase in pressure from Wales also saw Denmark tightening up their defence. They picked up nine fouls and five yellow cards in the second half alone as they tried to strong-arm their way to the three points.

What's next?

Despite the disappointing UEFA Nations League defeat, Wales manager Ryan Giggs is keen to return to winning ways
Wales manager Ryan Giggs gestures during the UEFA Nations League match

Now that Denmark have won their group, they can now take it easy for a bit and let go of the gas pedal when they face the Republic of Ireland. The Boys in Green are already doomed to relegation and have big UEFA Nations League 2018 odds to beat at reputable sites like SBOBET.

Meanwhile, Wales can at least take their mind off the whippings they endured against Denmark and focus on ending the year right by beating Albania. This would be a great pick-me-up for Ryan Giggs and the boys: they lost three of their last four games.

 

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04-Dec 2018 Tuesday @ 1:52 PM (15 days ago)            #60
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UEFA Nations League: Holland Get Their Swagger Back!

Netherlands 2-0 France

That’s what they call Double Dutch!

This UEFA Nations League result will do wonders for Oranje who played with a swagger and style comparable to many of the Dutch greats of yesteryear.

They have endured four years of misery since Louis van Gaal guided them to a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But this morale-boosting scoreline against the world champions, fresh on the back of an emphatic win over the 2014 world champions, has put the country on a high again.

It also surprised many SBOBET fans that went against many UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds, not to mention my pre-match betting tip.

Highlights of the game

Few inside the De Kuip in Rotterdam could begrudge the Dutch national team this victory.

In fact, if not for French skipper Hugo Lloris, the winning margin would have been wider.

And there can few better times to score than when Holland did find a way past Lloris.

Firstly, a minute before half-time, after he parried a Ryan Babel effort, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum pounced from close range on the rebound.

Then, deep into stoppage time at the end of the contest, Moussa Sissoko’s poor touch let in Frenkie de Jong who the Spurs man then fouled in the penalty area — and up stepped a rejuvenated Memphis Depay to seal the points.

Wijnaldum and Depay had gone closest from the outset. Although the French, missing the injured Paul Pogba but backed by a vociferous away support, had their own moments.

Jasper Cillessen denied Antoine Griezmann early on during a rare French foray and Babel, sporting a bright red hairstyle, headed a Blaise Matuidi snapshot off the line.

Matuidi and Steven Nzonzi both saw efforts blocked but Holland had the clear edge. Moments after Babel had been denied, Wijnaldum broke the deadlock.

After the restart Babel (again), Virgil van Dijk and Denzel Dumfries came closest to adding a second. Lloris was the only reason Didier Deschamp’s men kept in touch.

For a brief time, it did look like his heroics and some late French pressure may force an equaliser, but Holland held firm.

In the closing stages, a Lloris fingertip save kept out de Jong. The young Ajax starlet was stopped unfairly moments later as Depay nonchalantly dinked the ball over Lloris from the resulting spot-kick – one of the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights so far.

It was just rewarding for Ronaldo Koeman’s men who had come out of the blocks with greater energy from the start and were rewarded with a result which further increases home belief in the national side.

It was also another display from Depay, which showed why van Gaal signed the promising young talent after he left Holland for Manchester United.

It remains a mystery to many why it did not quite work out for the now 24 year-old at Old Trafford. Indeed it was the right move at the wrong time for a player who is now shining for Lyon in Lique 1.

He is certainly flying now.

So are Holland.

The future is bright. Perhaps it’s Oranje!

Dutch fans are more than happy to get the UEFA Nations League win against France
Dutch fans excitedly waiting for the Netherlands' match against France

Key statistics

This result ended France’s 15 match unbeaten run. It also relegated Germany from the group (Group A1), although it is hardly critical as far as Euro 2020 qualifying is concerned.

Holland are the first side to have beaten Les Bleus since they were crowned world champions in July.

This was Wijnaldum’s 10th international goal.

It also means he has scored for Holland in successive games for the first time in 20 games.

This was Depay’s 23rd goal (combined for club and country) in the calendar year.

In total, he has been directly involved in 41 goals in 52 matches for club and country in 2018, which includes 23 goals and 18 assists.

Top of Form

What’s next?

Holland now travel to arch rivals, and what could be a wound-up Germany, in Gelsenkirchen where a draw would see them win the group.

That would take Koeman's side into next June's Nations League finals - at the expense of France, who had only needed a point here to seal top spot.

The winners of each group are also guaranteed a Euro 2020 play-off place if they fail to progress from qualification next year.

France are back in action in an international friendly at home to Uruguay.

Those games round off 2018 for both nations.

Their 2019 fixtures will be announced in due course.

 

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04-Dec 2018 Tuesday @ 1:54 PM (15 days ago)            #61
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UEFA Nations League: Who can Provide the Latest Twist in This Longstanding Rivalry?

Germany vs Netherlands

Hands up, SBOBET fans, if you remember the most tempestuous clash of Italia 1990.

It has never been forgotten by this observer as a schoolboy growing up, and this arguably set the tone for the modern-day rivalry between these two nations.

Now as they prepare to meet again in the UEFA Nations League, the stakes are hardly as high. But pride will dictate both sides as they strive for victory.

Talking Points

This Group A clash in Gelsenkirchen will certainly be well worth watching as Ronald Koeman’s seemingly rejuvenated Dutch go in search of the point that would take them into next June's Nations League finals.

Leroy Sane to feature in Germany's UEFA Nations League game vs Holland
Germany's Leroy Sane celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a friendly soccer match against Russia

Then there’s Germany who are destined to finish bottom of the group, whatever the outcome in this one. They also have revenge on their mind after last month’s clash in the Amsterdam ArenA caused ripples as well as providing UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights.

If you had looked at the UEFA Nations League 2018 betting odds at the start of the tournament, you would not have tipped Holland to beat both Germany and the nation which succeeded them as world champions, let alone win the group.

Yet that is the exact possibility with one match remaining after Holland’s 2-0 victory over Les Bleus on Friday meant they became the first side to have beaten them since they were crowned world champions in July.

It also marked Georginio Wijnaldum’s 10th international goal and Memphis Depay’s 23rd goal (combined for club and country) in 2018.

They are certainly the form team in comparison to Germany – just one win in five competitive matches.

While Joachim Low’s star may have fallen lately, Germany won’t want to go through the whole campaign without a victory.

They could definitely use the actions of the Holland manager 30 years ago as an incentive to up their game.

It was at Euro 1988 when the Dutch came from behind to beat the hosts in the semi-final, and the Germans were hit so hard they didn’t leave the dressing room for half an hour after the final whistle.

Most of the German players didn’t even shake hands with the opposition. Koeman, who scored in that win, revealed he had wiped his backside on the German shirt he had swapped with his opponent after the match.

Lowe could use that mark of disrespect to inspire his players to a much-needed victory three decades on.

History

These nations have quite a history.

They last met in a major tournament in Euro 2012 when a Mario Gomez double fired the Germans to a 2-1 success, despite a late Robin van Persie reply.

Germany have the edge in most competitive encounters with the exceptions being the 1988 and 1992 European Championships when, under the late great Rinus Michels, a Marco van Basten-inspired Dutch national side claimed two major victories.

Overall, the two countries have met on 41 occasions with the Dutch winning 11, the Germans enjoying success in 15 of the clashes and the other 15 ending up as draws.

However, the Germans have usually had the edge when it matters most, most notably in the 1974 World Cup Final when they bounced back from conceding a penalty under 60 seconds to be crowned world champions.

Betting Tip

??

Germany vs Netherlands Germany Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 1.91
November 20, 03:45 (GMT+8)

It may hardly be critical but, even at this level, Germany will be embarrassed the word ‘relegation’ has appeared in the same sentence as their national team.

That Low’s men have been relegated to League B of this competition will hurt.

Yet I think they will have a point to prove in this one and will be intent on stopping the Dutch from gaining the point they need to qualify for the top spot.

There were certainly signs of improvement the other night when Leroy Sane and Niklas Sule scored their first international goals to guide them to a 3-0 friendly success over Russia.

Serge Gnabry made sure of the victory before half-time as Low made a number of changes, and several young players impressed in a first-half showing packed with pace, power and goals.

It may only have been a friendly, but it showed Low’s men have more talent than their recent performances suggest.

To end a miserable year on a high and emerge from the ashes of Russia 2018, only victory against Holland will suffice.

I think they will edge it.

They are clear favourites with 1X2 odds which price Germany @ 1.90, the draw @ 3.50 and Holland @ 3.70.

Asian Handicap betting also gives them the edge. If you are backing the super-confident Dutch, then how about Asian Handicap Holland + 0.50 @ 2.01?

Over 2.75 goals comes out @ 2.03, under 2.50 goals @ 2.14 and a tight game of total goal 0-1 @ 3.50 – attractive looking odds.

If Germany were to exact the perfect revenge with a correct score of 3-0, you would receive a payout @ 17.50.

Or how about Double Chance Holland or draw @ 1.81? Worth a punt?

There’s much to consider.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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04-Dec 2018 Tuesday @ 1:56 PM (15 days ago)            #62
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UEFA Nations League: European Champions Thwart Wasteful Italy

Italy 0-0 Portugal

Portugal knew that securing a draw in Milan would mean they were home and hosed in the UEFA Nations League.

That would ensure they mathematically won Group A3 and go through to the final four at the expense of the Azzurri who had only taken four points from their opening three games.

However, the reigning European champions were missing world number one Cristiano Ronaldo as well as the suspended Pepe and the injured Andre Gomes against opponents who simply had to attack from the outset.

This clash at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza was going to be compelling for that reason alone.

And so it proved.

Highlights of the game

Portugal had not lost a competitive away fixture (apart from in tournaments) since a 2-0 loss in Switzerland in September 2016.

Yet even SBOBET fans of the most Portuguese of persuasions will know they were fortunate to still be on level terms after one of the most one-sided first halves you will ever see.

The UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights package regularly recorded Rui Patricio who denied Lorenzo Insigne early on before Ciro Immobile fired the rebound over.

Alessandro Florenzi drove just wide, Wolves keeper Patricio then denied Immobile again and even centre-back Leonardo Bonucci – jeered by home fans for leaving Milan after just one season – found the side netting as the Italians dominated chance-wise and territorially.

Such was their dominance that AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (who is hard to forget is still a teenager) was largely a spectator as he won his 11th cap in his home stadium.

Giorgio Chiellini’s experience as a veteran Italian players is not enough to beat Portugal in UEFA Nations League clash
Giorgio Chiellini and Andre Silva fights for the ball

So was Giorgio Chiellini as he celebrated his 100th senior Italy cap – precisely 14 years to the day since his debut against Finland.

They were hoping to keep out the ‘Silva’ Portuguese attacking duo of Bernardo Silva and Milan-owned Andre Silva who scored the only goal when these sides met in September.

Indeed, from the first whistle, it was easy to see why excitement is building in Italy over the style and longevity the ‘mister’ is focusing on.

The control they had was further highlighted by the fact Ruben Neves and Napoli full-back Mario Rui were booked and will be suspended against Poland on Tuesday night.

Yet for all of Patricio’s brilliance, it was clear to see why Italy have only scored 11 goals in their last 15 games.

They knew they had to win to keep their chances alive and initially began the second half as they had played the first.

Immobile has fired blanks in his last eight international appearances, and Insigne continued to lead the line with energy. Federico Chiesa’s first-time shot was deflected away when it seemed destined for the net, and Nicolo Barella saw a volley blocked. Despite continuing to dominate possession, the chances weren’t arriving for the Italians with such regularity as they had in the opening 45 minutes.

Naturally unable to maintain their first-half tempo, Portugal pushed themselves.

Joao Mario fired over the bar, and then the virtually redundant Donnarumma pushed away a William Carvalho ‘daisy-cutter’.

Slowly but surely, for the first time all night, the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds looked like they were heading in favour of the visiting side.

Slowly but surely, Portugal came more into the game and looked like a side unbeaten on their competitive travels for over two years.

Insigne fired just wide from distance, and substitute Lorenzo Pellegrini headed straight at Patricio but Italy, whose last six home matches have been stalemates, could not find a breakthrough.

Portugal held on – perhaps that’s one of the reasons why they’re European Champions.

Key statistics

Italy’s home run of six successive draws is now the country’s longest winless streak in the Peninsula since 1923-25.

They all finished 1-1 (Ukraine, Poland, Netherlands, Macedonia) save for a 0-0 draw (the World Cup play-off with Sweden at San Siro in November 2017).

The Azzurri last lost in Milan 27 games and 93 years ago.

Chiellini has become only the seventh player to reach 100 Italy caps.

Chiellini and Bonucci were the only players in the Italy starting XI aged over 30.

The only time Italy have managed to score more than once during the past six months was Roberto Mancini’s debut in charge, a 2-1 friendly over Saudi Arabia in May.

Portugal had lost their only four previous trips to Milan (in 1929, 1957, 1987 and 1993).

The latter game, a 1-0 Italy success in November 1993, saw Mancini come off the bench for the side, then managed by Arrigo Sacchi, who would go onto reach the World Cup Final the following summer.

Top of Form

What’s next?

Italy round off their 2018 with a home friendly against the USA on Tuesday (November 20).

Portugal complete their group campaign by entertaining Poland in Guimaraes at the same time.

 

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04-Dec 2018 Tuesday @ 1:58 PM (15 days ago)            #63
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UEFA Nations League: League C Teams Set Up A Grand Finale!

UEFA Nations League - League C

It's fair to say that the UEFA Nations League has somewhat become a darling to some international football fans. While the increased injury risk to players is something no good football fan should want, the increase in the quality of play displayed by these nations showcase the various styles of football that are spreading across the continent.

Today's series of matches was especially interesting for the discerning SBOBET punter as the most recent results of the day have set up some of the most dramatic finishes that we will ever see in this tournament.

Ready your chair and bring out your notebooks: it's going to be quite a bumpy ride through the wild jungles of League C!

Group 1

James Forrest spearheads Scotland in sealing a 0-4 demolition of Albania in recent UEFA Nations League match
James Forrest hits a goal for Scotland during their UEFA Nations League match against Albania

Scotland definitely remembered their bitter loss to Israel during their last Nations League clash and came to Albania with a purpose. They were there to win their group, and the unfortunate Eagles had to face the Scottish wrath.

Scotland converted four goals after making 18 shot attempts throughout the one-sided affair. It is important to mention, however, that Albania lost Mergim Mavraj to a red card early on in the game and had to play with only ten men in the field. They have now set up a win-or-go-home situation with Israel at Hampden Park.

Highlight of the Group: There are a good number of moments in this game that would make any UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights compilation, but James Forrest's second goal in the 67th minute would have to take the cake. The way he avoided the Albanian defender with some skill and finished the move with a volleyed effort is nothing short of impressive.

Key statistics: While Albania were the ones that got handed a red card, they weren't playing especially rough defence on the day. The Scots made 20 fouls and got booked four times.

Group 2

This group was supposed to be a one-boat race as Finland were cruising through the rest of the competition without any actual worries. However, everything changed when an unfortunate own goal from Albin Granlund doomed the Finns to their first loss of the season. They now only have three points to protect themselves against Greece.

Meanwhile, Hungary doomed Estonia to relegation as their 2-0 result at home ensured that they would stay in this League for a bit while longer. There was nothing Martin Reim's men could do about the situation as they found themselves outclassed by their hosts in every possible category.

Highlight of the Group: Both of Hungary's goals against Estonia were impressive as they came in the form of headers. However, Adam Szalai's goal is a bit more impressive as it came from open play.

Key statistics: Both of these games saw the hosts dominate the game in terms of possession and goal attempts made. However, Hungary were never caught offside by Estonia. Meanwhile, the Finnish defence managed to tag Greek attackers as offside thrice in 90 minutes.

Group 3

The tight deadlock between Norway and Bulgaria come to a head as the most recent results in Group 3 were all 1-1 draws. Benjamin Verbic gave Slovenia the early advantage against Norway, but the current leaders of the group managed to get back with a late equaliser from Bjorn Johnsen.

The Cyprus-Bulgaria game mirrored the first game as the hosts struck first. Panyiotis Zachariou gave the Cypriots an early with a long-range strike to the bottom-right corner. However, a penalty from Nikolay Dimitrov secured the point for Bulgaria, the nation that once led the group at a point in the competition.

Highlight of the Group: I would have to cede the best highlight to Cyprus' Zachariou. It's not easy to fire a long-range shot in front of a formidable Bulgarian defence, but he managed to make his shot work.

Key statistics: It is interesting to note that the visitors -- who are also tied on points at the top of the group table -- had to wait until they were past the 80-minute mark in order to score their equalisers. This strange observation sets up an interesting finale that will make for great UEFA Nations League 2018 odds.

Group 4

Aleksandar Mitrovic hits a winning goal for Serbia in recent UEFA Nations League clash with Montenegro
Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates after scoring Serbia's second goal during their UEFA Nations League match with Montenegro

Serbia are still the leaders of Group 4 after beating Montenegro 2-1. While Aleksandar Mitrovic did commit a howler with his missed penalty, his fantastic goal in the 32nd minute and Adem Ljajic's spectacular shot from open play managed to neutralise Stefan Mugosa's 70th-minute shot.

Meanwhile, Romania pulled off a systematic dismantling of Lithuania with a 3-0 victory in front of a rabid Stadionul Ilie Oana crowd. George Puscas, Claudiu Keseru, and Nicolae Stanciu overwhelmed an outclassed Lithuanian backline and ended the game in a comfortable tone.

Highlight of the Group: Mitrovic's 32nd-minute goal against Montenegro is easily the best bit of football you will find in the league. The way the Fulham striker changed the direction of the whipped cross to land into the net is mesmerising in itself.

Key statistics: While Lithuania suffered an embarrassing score, they cannot blame Ernestas Setkus for the quality he showcased on the pitch. He made five saves against eight on-target shots by the Romanians.

 

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04-Dec 2018 Tuesday @ 2:01 PM (15 days ago)            #64
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UEFA Nations League: It’s Not Yet Over in League D!

UEFA Nations League - League D

The fourth-tier competition of UEFA Nations League continues to entertain, and the penultimate round of matches just set up what should be a thrilling finale in League D.

Matchday 5 was supposed to be the day Luxembourg, Kosovo and Macedonia would establish their dominance in their respective groups and seal promotion to League C. Instead, the other dreamers staged a brilliant fightback to keep the chase for the top spot alive.

Georgia already secured promotion last month, and they remain the only League D team to have a confirmed place in the higher tournament heading to the final stage.

Group 1

There's nothing left to play for in Group D1, with Georgia already promoted and no threat of relegation for the remaining teams. With that said, it was unsurprising to see the two games end up in a 1-1 draw.

Andorra broke a two-game losing streak after a second-half free kick from Cristian Martinez cancelled out Giorgi Chakvetadze's ninth-minute goal and gave them a share of the spoils.

On the other match, just like the Andorrans, Latvia also left it in the second to find an equaliser. Deniss Rakels took advantage of a 48th-minute corner from Igors Tarasovs to score from the back post.

Highlight of the group: Martinez' goal is one for the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights, and for a good reason. It seemed impossible for him to score a free kick from wide, wide left, but the ball flew straight to the top right corner of the net—to the astonishment of Georgia and, perhaps, his teammates!

Key statistics: Georgia's draw marked the first time that they dropped points this season, having won four straight contests to start the campaign. Meanwhile, Latvia got their first away points in the tournament after losing to the Georgians previously.

Group 2

Luxembourg failed to show up when it mattered most, losing 0-2 to Belarus in the top-of-the-group battle that would have propelled them to League C. Stanislav Dragun scored on both sides of the interval to help the White Wings of Belarus gain control of their destiny.

In the battle for the standings, Moldova piled more misery on struggling San Marino with a 0-1 victory. The visitors left it late though and needed a fine close-range finish from