Ireland vs New Zealand: Ireland (-1) – 5/6
This one isn’t high on the list of glamour friendlies, but there is plenty of incentive for Irish players to play well.
Injuries and loss of form have cast a cloud over the starting XI against Denmark and Thursday represents one last opportunity for certain fringe players to make their mark.
Thursday night’s opponents New Zealand are something of an unknown quantity. The All Whites haven’t played an international fixture since they beat India 2-1 in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup in June last year.
It is hard to gauge where New Zealand are at and their place in the World Rankings has dropped accordingly. New Zealand have plummeted to 121st place due to inactivity and are currently sandwiched by Kazakhstan and Angola.
Such a prolonged period of inactivity is highly unusual and New Zealand should be rusty on Thursday night.
Between that and the need for Irish players to impress, it should be a comfortable win for the Boys in Green.
Czech Republic vs Kosovo: Czech Republic to win – 8/13
Avoid defeat at home to Kosovo on Thursday night and the Czechs are as good as qualified for Euro 2020.
A defeat, however, would see Kosovo leapfrog them into second place and leave their participation in next year’s finals uncertain. The Czechs have their home form to thank for finding themselves in a qualifying place, winning all three qualifying games in Prague.
They inflicted England’s first qualifier defeat in just over 10 years in a shock victory last month and their performance in Prague was in stark contrast to their utterly abject showing in England earlier in the year – further highlighting that they are far more comfortable playing with home comforts.
Meanwhile, Kosovo have the fallback of a Nations League qualifier if they do fail to qualify from the groups, so there is far less pressure on them to get a result.
The Kosovans caused England plenty of problems in St Mary’s in September and beat the Czechs at home earlier in the year, so they will be no pushovers by any stretch of the imagination. Still though, Czech Republic’s home form, coupled with a greater need to win on Thursday, should see them home.
Turkey vs Iceland: Turkey (-1) – 21/10
Mathematically at least, Turkey need a result at home to Iceland on Thursday to secure their place in next year’s Euros. However, with a four-point buffer over Thursday night’s opponents and a facile fixture against Andorra to come, Turkey are qualified in all but name.
In terms of Thursday’s game, Turkey should still have too much for Iceland. They boast an impeccable home record of four wins from four games and no goals conceded – that includes a 2-0 win over world champions France.
Iceland have collected just one win from three away games and suffered a hugely damaging defeat at the hands of Albania the last time out.
Turkey should get a win and book their place in next summer’s finals, consigning Iceland to the Nations League play-offs in the process. They should do it in relative comfort too.
* All odds correct at time of posting.