The UEFA Nations League returns this week as international teams go head to head to win… something. Whilst the competition may not have any glamour attached, it does mean we get to see games that are more competitive than international friendlies, and on Friday it will give England a chance for retribution against their World Cup semi-final opponents Croatia.
Gareth Southgate has picked a young squad once again, which includes Leicester’s James Maddison, Derby’s on loan midfielder Mason Mount and Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho for the first time, as the boss looks to bring in even more of the next generation in preparation for Euro 2020.
The game on Friday night will be an experience for the players in more ways than one, as it will be played behind closed doors thanks to UEFA sanctions on the hosts after a swastika was drawn on their pitch before a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.
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Of course here at Football FanCast we’re predicting an England win, and not just because we want to get back at the Croats for stopping football coming home in the summer. In their first Nations League game against Spain, Zlatko Dalic’s side were thumped 6-0 by Spain, and this is an extremely exciting looking England squad.
If Southgate offers starts to men in form such as Maddison and Ross Barkley then the Three Lions could certainly come away with victory. 5P0RTZ are offering to triple your points for selecting an England win here and that would be our bet.
We’ve gone for one of the reasonably safe options here, selecting 3 or more goals which won’t get you any multipliers on your score but is quite likely to come in. Southgate’s side don’t often protect their back three that well and are likely to concede if the attacking midfield trio of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic find their World Cup form.
For England, Harry Kane’s record of 19 goals in 32 appearances for his country speaks for itself and we wouldn’t put it past one of the new boys to get themselves on the scoresheet if given the opportunity.
If you avoid Harry Kane here there are some good points multipliers on offer. Picking Marcus Rashford will double your points and could be a good bet after he netted both the goals in England’s last international break, although it is never a given if he or Raheem Sterling will start as the man to play off Kane.
Ivan Perisic will also get you double the points and he has 22 goals in 75 caps for Croatia, which included three at the World Cup in the summer. However, for a real throwback we’ve gone for Kieran Trippier at five times the points after his sumptuous free-kick five minutes in to the semi-final in Russia.
A very tough one to call, but we think this will be an attacking game so would go with 12 or more corners to be awarded throughout the 90 minutes. With both teams having specialist set-piece takers in their squads, it could be a source of goals and with England playing three centre-backs they have no shortage of aerial threat. Picking this option will get you double the points from 5P0RTZ.
5P0RTZ offer eight different options here with varying multipliers, and we would have to go with a sub scoring a goal thanks to the changes that the managers will most likely make. Both sides have strong squads with plenty of attacking options, and with so much football played recently don’t be surprised to see a raft of substitutions around the hour mark when some start to tire.
While there are plenty of other options, we can’t see a penalty being scored or a red card being shown as the lack of atmosphere with no fans could make the game a less competitive affair and will mean the referee has nothing to cloud his judgement. 5P0RTZ are offering to double your points if a sub scores so that’s our pick of the bunch.
Plenty of contenders for this one, but our choice would be one of the Croatian centre-backs so Domagoj Vida or Dejan Lovren. Neither of these will get you any extra points but they have to be considered the most likely. Lovren was extremely lucky not to give away a penalty for Liverpool against Manchester City last Sunday and Vida could struggle up against the pace of Sterling, Rashford or Sancho.
The final question – nearest to the actual minute wins. Seen as we’re expecting three or more goals we’ve gone for the 12th minute in the hope that the game will burst into life early on.
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking as we hope for something interesting to watch on our Friday evening, but a goal in the opening stages could make this a properly good game between two sides that will be hoping to reach the final few rounds of the next proper international tournament in two years time.
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