European football weekend preview22nd Mar 2018 |
Germany vs Spain (International friendly)
The winners of the last two World Cups will go head-to-head in what should be a highly entertaining friendly match this week. Germany are widely considered the favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy again this summer, with manager Joachim Low possessing plenty of quality, depth and experience within his ranks. Spain will also be confident of their chances of glory, particularly as coach Julen Lopetegui has done a fine job of blending the nation’s traditional style of play with added speed and freshness since he replaced Vicente del Bosque after Euro 2016. Over 3.5 goals could be a good shout at 23/10.
Argentina vs Italy (International friendly)
It still has not fully sunk in that Italy will play no part at this summer’s World Cup. The three-time winners missed out on qualification due to a play-off defeat by Sweden over two legs, meaning they will not be at the planet’s foremost football tournament for the first time since 1958. Argentina also had problems in qualification but were ultimately successful in their bid to reach Russia, and manager Jorge Sampaoli will be looking to use friendlies such as this to put his own stamp on the team. The Albiceleste have looked shaky defensively in recent times, so both teams to score looks like a must at 1/1.
Netherlands vs England (International friendly)
The last few years have perhaps been the worst in this history of the Netherlands national team. Three-time World Cup finalists in 1974, 1978 and 2010, the Dutch have gone backwards in recent years and will play no part in Russia this summer. They also failed to qualify for the European Championship two years ago and must now embark on a rebuilding job if they are to compete in the latter stages of future tournaments. There is also a degree of pessimism surrounding England at present, and a draw – available at 43/20 – could be on the cards here.
Sweden vs Chile (International friendly)
Chile may have won the last two editions of the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, but an ageing team showed signs of burnout in World Cup qualification and ultimately failed to get over the line. La Roja will therefore be looking towards next year’s Copa America rather than the upcoming competition in Russia, which will feature Sweden among the 32 qualified teams. The fact the Swedes made it and Chile did not may suggest the former are the favourites here, but I fancy Chile to come out on top – so consider backing them at 31/20.
France vs Colombia (International friendly)
France fell short at the European Championship on home soil two years ago, going down 1-0 to Portugal in the final. Les Bleus are still well fancied to go all the way at this summer’s World Cup, with Didier Deschamps able to call upon a whole host of talented players in every position on the pitch. There is, however, still a feeling that France have not yet fashioned a collective which is equal to the sum of its parts, and that could prove costly in the summer. Despite that, I would advise putting some cash on a French victory over Colombia with both teams to score.
Turkey vs Republic of Ireland (International friendly)
In terms of underachievers on the global stage, Turkey are right up there. Although the Crescent-Stars reached the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, they have still only appeared at the tournament twice and have not even qualified since that fantastic achievement 16 years ago. Ireland also missed out on a place in Russia and would probably settle for a draw in this one – that’s offered at 41/20.