UEFA Nations League Matchdays 5 and 6 – Preview and Tips

There’s a break from the Premier League this week as we have the final rounds of fixtures in the inaugural UEFA Nations League and the structure of the tournament is such that there is still plenty to play for in every group in the tournament, with very few issues settled ahead of the final two sets of games.

In truth, while it was initially criticised, especially by club managers, the Nations League has been a big success for UEFA with teams taking the tournament very seriously and there being a number of high-quality games involving the top teams, while other teams have played opponents more suitable to their level. This has led to better quality games than you would get with friendly matches, and far more interesting games as a result.

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This final selection of games comprises of Matchday 5 (Thursday to Saturday) and Matchday 6 (Sunday to Tuesday). By then, all games in the group stages across the four leagues will be complete and the teams that have earned promotion, from Leagues, B, C and D up to Leagues A, B and C respectively, will be known.

In addition, the four group winners from League A will be finalised, thereby moving forward to the draw at the end of the year for the semifinals of the tournament, which will be played next year, on the 5th and 6th June, followed the one-legged final and third place match, which will both be played on the 9th June.

There are so many games in the tournament that it is hard to tip them all across both matchdays, so we will focus on the bigger games taking place on the Matchday 5, with the odds as always provided by bet365 Sport. Remember you can sign up with bet365 Sport today and claim the latest bet365 Sport New Player Bonus when you do.

Matchday Five – League A Key Games

Thursday 15th November

Belgium v Iceland

This is the one game in League A’s four groups that doesn’t have a huge bearing on the outcome of the group. A win for Belgium would make them almost certain to win the group, as they’d only need a draw to be sure of qualifying ahead of Switzerland. Iceland are already doomed to relegation after losing all of their opening three games scoring just once and conceding 11 in the process.

Unsurprisingly, Belgium are the clear favourites to win this game and are heavily odds on with the bookmakers for the win at full time. As such, I’d opt to make a different type of bet and back Belgium to win to nil, which is an 8/11 shot with bet365 Sport and offers much better value than the standard bet.

Regardless of the result in this game, Belgium will take on Switzerland on Matchday Six knowing that a win or a draw will be enough for them to qualify on the head to head rule.

Croatia v Spain

The penultimate game in England group has now been given fresh importance following England’s 3-2 win over Spain and their 0-0 draw in Croatia across Matchdays 3 and 4. Those wins mean England now have four points to Spain’s six, with Croatia bottom of the group with one point.

This means if Croatia win both their next two games against Spain at home and away to England, they would top the group, If Spain win this game, then they will win the group and England will take on Croatia needing a draw or better to stay in League A. If the game ends in a Croatia win or a draw, then England will win the group, if they can beat Croatia at Wembley on Matchday Six.

Spain did hammer Croatia 6-0 when they met on Matchday 2 of the competition in Spain and the Croatian team will be desperate for at least some form of revenge. Spain looked very shaky defensively against England last time out too, although they did battle back well in the second half.

This is a huge game in the context of the group and the odds on the teams to win the game and on the draw are all very enticing, so the question is simply which is the best bet.

Croatia are a tough proposition on home soil as England found out and with Spain looking defensively suspect in their last game with England, I am backing the Croatians to take a point from this game, setting up a mouthwatering final clash with England at Wembley. Back the draw here at 23/10 with bet365.

Friday 16th November

Netherlands v France

The equation in Group 1 of League A is simple. A win or a draw for France in this game will confirm them as the winners of the group. A defeat would see France still top the group, but the Netherlands would have a chance of winning the group, if they beat Germany in their final game, or if they draw against Germany and beat France by a greater scoreline than the 2-1 victory France managed over the Netherlands on Matchday 2.

In truth, the French should be the strong favourites to progress, and a point here would be enough for them and almost certainly condemn Germany to relegation to League B, unless the Germans can beat the Dutch by better than the 3-0 scoreline they were defeated by in Holland on Matchday 3.

The Dutch seem to be getting their act together after two very poor qualification campaigns for Euro 2016 and the World Cup 2018 but it is a big ask for them to defeat the World Cup Winners here on home soil. As such, I think the 5/2 on this one finishing in a draw is the best option here.

Saturday 17th November

Italy v Portugal

The final game from League A in matchday one sees Italy take on Portugal in what could be a defining game in League A Group 3. Portugal top the group after having played just two games, with Poland already certain of relegation to League B.  Italy know that only a win against Portugal here wil be enough and even then, it may not be as Portugal still have their final game to go, at home to Poland.

Italy need to win and need really to win by a better scoreline than the 1-0 defeat Portugal handed to them when they met on Matchday 2. If they can improve on that scoreline, then a draw for Portugal against Poland would not be enough and force the Portuguese to go for the win.

Italy have gone in a new direction under Roberto Mancini, with a number of more established stars being replaced by younger players and this is still very much a team in transition. Portugal are more established and they have achieved their two opening wins without Cristiano Ronaldo being selected. The legend will also not feature in this game.

That I feel could backfire as I fancy on home soil, Italy to grab a win here and heap the pressure on Portugal heading into their last game on Tuesday. Back Italy to win this one at 23/20 with bet365.

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