Free Soccer Picks For The Euro 2020 Qualifiers

As the European Championship qualifiers move towards their conclusion, the group matches across the continent this week look particularly enticing. All of the home nations are in with a shot of qualifying for the expanded tournament next summer and yet, aside from England, none are in a particularly favourable position at the moment. This will be a decisive week of action.

The pick of the games takes place in Iceland, where the national team welcome France in what could prove to be difficult autumn weather conditions for the world champions. A famous win for Iceland is not out of the question.

Here are six match previews and betting tips:

Slovakia v Wales

Thursday, 10/10/19, 19:45

There is still time for Wales to save this qualifying campaign, but only just. Ryan Giggs has frankly been an appalling manager, overseeing a degradation in their tactical identity until the current crop appear completely disordered – which is a serious concern given their hugely talented group of young players. For this reason, Slovakia will get at least a point on Thursday.

The home side are three points above Wales despite losing 1-0 in Cardiff courtesy of a Daniel James goal. Unfortunately for Giggs, the problem is that their youthful energy – via Harry Wilson, James, and James Lawrence – is evaporating fast, and is certainly in short supply without the raucous support of their home fans. On the road, Wales have lost four of their last five.

Back the draw at 3.22

Russia v Scotland

Thursday, 10/10/19, 19:45

A lot of fans will be calling for Steve Clarke’s head if things don’t improve for Scotland, who are underperforming even in spite of the low quality of their squad these days. Two wins from six isn’t good enough, and defeat in Russia would mathematically confirm that they are unable to finish in the top two. Russia, by contrast, have won five from six and will expect to build on their 2-1 win in Scotland a month ago.

The Scottish have a very strong central midfield in Scott McTominay and John McGinn but little quality elsewhere, which is why they repeatedly slump to defeat under the unimaginative Clarke. That doesn’t bode well for the trip to Russia, who have won all of their home matches so far without conceding a single goal.

Back Russia to win to nil at 2.07

Netherlands v Northern Ireland

Thursday, 10/10/19, 19:45

In eight years managing Northern Ireland, Michael O’Neill has come close to qualifying for a major tournament on several occasions, but rarely has it seemed as plausible as it does right now. They are second in their group of death, yet unfortunately must travel to a rejuvenated Netherlands this week, to face a team who are surely too strong at the back to fall to defeat.

Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk lead the way, and while in front of them the quality drops, the Netherlands will have enough guile with Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum to weave through a narrow, uber-defensive Northern Ireland setup. This will be an attritional match – certainly not pleasing on the eye – in which the hosts will ultimately triumph.

Back Netherlands to score over 2.5 goals at 1.86

Czech Republic v England

Friday, 11/10/19, 19:45

England have breezed through qualifying so far, playing with a creative freedom and strong identity not seen in the side for generations. Gareth Southgate has successfully built on their World Cup semi-final appearance by moving to a more modern and fluid 4-3-3, and England have subsequently scored 19 goals in four matches, including five in the reverse fixture against Czech Republic. They should therefore comfortably continue their 100% record on Friday.

Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, and Raheem Sterling were devastating in the 5-0 at Wembley in March, and nothing has changed since then to expect a different end result. Away matches don’t even seem harder than home games for England these days, while the Czechs lost 2-1 to Kosovo just last month.

Back England to win with a -1.25 handicap at 2.10

Iceland v France

Friday, 11/10/19, 19:45

After failing to win any of their five post World Cup games in 2018, Iceland have stabilised again and find themselves just three points behind both Turkey and France in qualifying for the Euros. This is theoretically the hardest match of the group – France beat Iceland 4-0 in the reverse fixture – but the form guide actually suggests we could be in for another famous result.

France lost 2-0 away in Turkey earlier in the group, reflecting on-going tactical problems under Didier Deschamps (they are far too conservative for such a talented group) while Iceland have won all three of their home matches so far. Nobody enjoys the trip, and with temperatures dropping to six degrees celsius on Friday night, France are likely to become yet more stilted and aimless.

Back Iceland to win with a +1.25 handicap at 1.88

Georgia v Ireland

Saturday, 12/10/19, 14:00

Republic of Ireland are enjoying an excellent qualifying campaign and are closing in on making it to next summer’s tournament, but anything other than a win in Georgia will hand the advantage back to the two favourites Switzerland and Denmark. Unfortunately for Mick McCarthy’s side, they are poor away from home, only just beating Gibraltar 1-0 and very lucky to draw 1-1 in Denmark.

Georgia aren’t much of an attacking threat, which is why this is bound to be a low-scoring game similar to Ireland’s 1-0 win in the reverse fixture back in March. Conor Hourihane is in good form for Aston Villa, but Ireland desperately lack a forward with quality. A disappointing draw seems probable.

Back the draw at 2.99

The first international break of the 2019/20 season is upon us, much to the apathy of Premier League fans. But once you get over the loss of a weekend of club football there are actually some very interesting games to look forward to as the race heats up for Euro 2020 qualification.

This is a make or break week for several nations, with Ireland desperate to continue their good start against Switzerland and Wales needing to recover against Azerbaijan. Along with Scotland’s crunch match against Russia, three of the home nations will more or less have their fates decided this weekend.

Ireland v Switzerland

Thursday, 05/09/19, 19:45

Ireland have won all four of their qualifying matches so far but face their first big test on Thursday against the Nations League semi-finalists Switzerland. Mick McCarthy’s side will be forced into a deep formation in the hope of absorbing pressure, but with Shane Long and Robbie Brady unavailable for selection, Ireland will probably lack the pace to get up the pitch and launch counter-attacks.

Switzerland are not in good shape themselves, lacking a cutting edge in a 3-5-1-1 formation in which Xherdan Shaqiri remains their most creative player. Young striker Breel Embolo has a big role to play but could be bullied by an experienced Irish defence, while Granit Xhaka will need to move the ball quickly to avoid a stale match. The Swiss will probably edge it, but either way it will be low on quality and goals.

Back under 2 goals at 1.86

Germany v Netherlands

Friday, 06/09/19, 19:45

Northern Ireland’s 100% start to Group C puts the two favourites under some pressure, and victory for Germany on Friday will leave the Netherlands in trouble. The hosts should win this one having already beaten their opponents 3-2 in the away fixture, particularly because Ronald Koeman’s young side are vulnerable down the flanks.

Germany have serious pace on the counter with Serge Gnabry joined by flying wing-backs in a 3-5-2 formation. That should be enough to outscore the visitors, who are beginning to play fluid possession football again thanks to the introduction of Frenkie de Jong in midfield. They will hold most of the ball but will be too open, leaving space for Germany to break quickly into the final third.

Back Germany to win at 2.02

Scotland v Russia

Friday, 06/09/19, 19:45

New Scotland manager Steve Clarke faces an uphill battle to get the nation qualified for the Euros after his predecessor oversaw a 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in the first game. They simply must beat Russia on Friday, which seems unlikely given the defensive sturdiness of the visitors.

Russia are very well organised, while Scotland do not have the quality in attack needed to break them down. What’s more, AS Monaco’s Aleksandr Golovin and Valencia’s Denis Cheryshev have the attacking quality to overcome a very poor Scottish back four.

Back Russia to win at 2.72

Wales v Azerbaijan

Friday, 06/09/19, 19:45

Wales have looked dreadful ever since Ryan Giggs was appointed manager. Their tactics are non-existent and their football is ambling; a stark contrast to the organisation of his predecessor Chris Coleman. Their 1-0 defeat in Hungary probably ended their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020.

However, even Wales should be able to beat Azerbaijan, who have lost all three matches so far – and were beaten 5-1 at home to Slovakia last time out. Harry Wilson has enjoyed an excellent start to the season at Bournemouth, plus Aaron Ramsey returns to the squad for the first time in 2019. These two, along with Gareth Bale, will have far too much for the visitors.

Back Wales to win with a -1.5 handicap at 1.95

England v Bulgaria

Saturday, 07/09/19, 17:00

Gareth Southgate’s attempts to move England away from a 3-4-3 and towards a 4-3-3 have provided mixed results so far, but clearly he has no plans to revert to three at the back given Kyle Walker was omitted from the squad. England’s formation hardly matters for this one, mind, with Bulgaria having been beaten by Czech Republic and Kosovo so far this campaign. They are a poor side.

England’s attack looks considerably faster than it did at the World Cup, with Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, and Harry Kane creating a lively front three bound to hurt Bulgaria. The visitors will sit deep and await the onslaught, potentially creating space on the right flank for Trent Alexander-Arnold to pepper the box with crosses. He will lead England to an easy win.

Back England to win with a -2.5 handicap at 1.84

Serbia v Portugal

Saturday, 07/09/19, 19:45

Arguably the most interesting game of the international break is in Serbia, where Portugal are hoping to record their first win in the group following disappointing draws against Ukraine and Serbia. Their place at Euro 2020 was secured by winning the Nations League, but nevertheless this is an important fixture; their confidence will drain away should the qualification campaign continue to go badly.

Cristiano Ronaldo has not had a particularly good start to the season at Juventus, meaning we could see a repeat of the frustrating 1-1 draw when Serbia came to Portugal. Aleksandr Mitrovic has already scored twice in qualifying, and along with Dusan Tadic’s crossing ability gives Serbia a direct approach that should hurt an ageing Portugal back line.

Back the draw at 3.51

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Posted on 2019-10-08

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