Greece v Finland: Finland (+1) – 8/11
It’s funny. Finland sit top of Nations League Group C2, are six points clear of Greece in second and beat their Thursday night rivals 2-0 at home a month ago.
And they’re the 3/1 outsiders?
The betting has a distinctly lob-sided look to it, especially when you consider that Finland are on a five-game winning streak having also beaten Estonia home and away, as well as Hungary at home in this campaign and seeing off Belarus before that.
There is always the danger that with promotion assured, Finland will ease off the gas a little, while Greece do need a result if they’re not to have their pockets picked for second place.
However, Finland have momentum having lost just once in their last 14 games and look to be building something. We fancy them to win, but we’ll give ourselves a head-start for treble purposes by taking the 8/11 (+1) on the handicap.
Belgium v Iceland: Home Team Over 2.5 Goals – 4/5
The Icelanders defence has frozen since the World Cup – they’ve conceded 13 goals in four games since returning from Russia. We don’t think they can put that down to anything Vladimir Putin did at this stage.
They did earn a 2-2 draw in a friendly against France. Now, Didier Deschamps and co seem to be taking to the title of world champions in a matter-of-fact fashion their collective talent affords, but we wouldn’t read too much into that result.
Rather, the Nations League hammering by Switzerland and Belgium already – 6-0 away and 3-0 at home – suggests that their formidable defence of their 2016 European Championships run may not return.
The Belgians have shown already what they can do against this Nordic foe. Romelu Lukaku may not be getting a game for Jose at the minute, but he’ll be in Roberto Martinez’s plans for this, and will expect to add to his impressive international goal return.
The Rode Duivels also do not hold back when they take the lead, and with the likes of Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens supporting their leading scorer – and big Marouane to come off the bench for a plan B – we think they should hit at least three here.
Croatia v Spain: Spain (-1) – 3/1
You’d be hard pressed to express the opinion that the Nations League doesn’t matter to players after watching the England v Spain instant classic in Seville last month.
Spain were probably unlucky not to get something out of the game, given how Jordan Pickford somehow pulled the wool over the referee’s eyes in the second half. Although Luis Enrique’s men lost 3-2 on the night to Super Southgate’s charges, Spain again showed their mouth-watering ability to find the net.
Since exiting the World Cup at the hands of Russia, Spain have netted an incredible 14 times in four games. That stat includes a 6-0 success over Thursday’s hosts Croatia, so Zlatko Dalic is well aware of the uphill battle his outfit faces in Zagreb.
Croatia may have had that magic run to the World Final in July, but their only win since then was against lowly Jordan last month.
We reckon the Croats are in for a backlash on Thursday and we’re confident Spain can cover the (-1) handicap at 3/1.
* All odds correct at time of posting.