International breaks can be a frustrating time for any football fan, particularly as the season felt like it was just getting underway. No one really wants this one, and every team is either frustrated that their momentum has been stopped or that they are left wondering about their last defeat for a fortnight.
The tedium of international football hardly softens the blow, either. This break will, however, be pivotal in the qualifying for next year’s World Cup, so there’s at least that. Oh, and there’s a few cracking fixtures.
‘Where’s the value?!’ we hear you shout, well, it’s here:
France v Netherlands
What a belting matchup this is. It looks it at first glance, at least. In reality, France are the next international footballing force and the Netherlands are a team in disrepair, leaning on veterans whose best years were in the early knockings of this decade.
France are in a precarious position at the moment, mind, having dropped points twice in the group already and are level on points with Sweden in a highly competitive Group A. Defeat here could put them in real trouble, with the Netherlands only three points behind them.
Seeing past the runners-up at last year’s European Championships is tough given their quality though. Arjen Robben’s performance will have to be magical if the Dutch are to get anything here.
Tip: France to win and BTTS at 22/10
Denmark v Poland
Group E is one of the weaker ones on paper. Without any of the traditionally successful European nations, the Danes and Poles will have been delighted when handed this draw. Montenegro and Romania are challenging competitors, but these two were the undoubted favourites for qualification.
Denmark are level on points with Montenegro, however, and sit six points short of Poland, who pipped them 3-2 in the return of this fixture earlier in the group. Defeat at home to the Montenegrins and failure to beat Romania away has cost the Danes, and has put them in a must-win position for this one.
Their goal scoring troubles will likely remain, and Poland have the firepower – mostly through Robert Lewandowski – to find the net themselves.
Tip: Poland to win at 43/20
Spain v Italy
Neck and neck at the top of Group G and have built a seven point lead from third-placed Albania. Having conceded three and four goals respectively in their matches to date, their 1-1 draw earlier in the groups was a testament to the resilience of the Italians even when their squad is at a weak point.
The dominance of this pair in their group is hardly a surprise, but Italy keeping pace with the Spaniards has been. Spain’s team will be littered with stars, and will once again be one of the favourites ahead of the World Cup next summer.
Italy’s defence will be resolute as ever, but Spain’s attacking flair and quality from the bench should see them prove too much for their Euro 2012 final opponents.
Tip: Spain to score over 1.5 goals and win at 3/1
All odds correct at the time of writing, click here for the latest odds for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers...