Turkey’s last roll of the dice, Croatia’s home fortress, Marco Verratti’s chance to shine, two coaches make their bows and Iceland find out if theirs will be an even longer journey home.
Netherlands v Turkey (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Can Turkey kick-start their campaign?
A trip to Amsterdam would not typically represent an opportunity to breathe life into Turkey’s faltering campaign, but despite a big win last time out, the Netherlands have not been tearing up trees either. The Oranje will be without Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Ron Vlaar but they do have history – not to mention Galatasaray AŞ’s Wesley Sneijder – on their side. This will be the Netherlands’ 52nd home tie in a UEFA European Championship qualifier or play-off – they are yet to lose.
Bulgaria v Italy (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Verratti’s chance to shine for Italy
The Azzurri’s midfield options are ever dwindling after Claudio Marchisio joined Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi on the sidelines ahead of their Group H match in Bulgaria. Time, perhaps, for Marco Verratti. “Marco is proving to be an important player for PSG and though he has plenty of room for improvement, he could really take a handle on our midfield line,” said Antonio Conte.
Andorra v Bosnia and Herzegovina (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Will Baždarević relight Dragons’ fire?
Andorra’s position at the foot of Group B is little surprise; that they are in touching distance of Bosnia and Herzegovina – more so. Nine months ago that the Zmajevi (Dragons) were enjoying their first FIFA World Cup. Two points from four qualifiers precipitated the end of Safet Sušić and Mehmed Baždarević has been tasked with getting them back where they belong, starting against Andorra. Andorra cannot be taken lightly, though – just ask Wales.
Belgium v Cyprus (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Belgium take on injury-ravaged Cyprus
Belgium have work to do having picked up five points from a possible nine in Group B so far and there will be no excuses if they fail to win at home to a Cyprus side decimated by injury. “I don’t think we have ever had so many first-team players absent,” admitted Charalampos Christodoulou. Romelu Lukaku and Steven Defour are out for the hosts but the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard should cause plenty of problems.
Croatia’s home fortress
The Netherlands are not the only team with an unblemished home record in this competition. Croatia have yet to lose in 28 matches and though only a point separates them and Norway in Group H, Niko Kovač’s men are favourites to claim all three points in Zagreb. Norway have already won away to Malta and Azerbaijan this campaign but a Croatia team that have conceded just three goals in their last 14 home EURO qualifiers are another proposition.
Israel v Wales (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Group B leaders meet: Israel v Wales
Not many would have picked these teams out as the front-runners approaching halfway in a section including two teams who spent last summer in Brazil. A win for either side will pile more pressure on the rest, and the confidence coursing through the Israel camp after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina last time out has apparently not bred complacency. “I’ve seen as much of Wales on video this past week as many people have seen of their families,” coach Eli Gutman said on Tuesday.
Czech Republic v Latvia (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Can Latvia locate their scoring boots?
Four games in and Latvia are yet to score from open play, their only goal coming from the spot in a draw at home to Turkey. A trip to Group Aleaders the Czech Republic, one of only four sides with a 100% record, is perhaps not ideal but at least they are not the Netherlands, who thumped Latvia 6-0 last time out. Also, as coach Marians Pahars points out, what have they got to lose? Now there was a player who knew the route to goal.
Azerbaijan v Malta – (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Robert Prosinečki’s first game as Azerbaijan coach
“We need to create an effective side that prefers to attack than defend,” former Robert Prosinečki said as he was unveiled as the new coach of Azerbaijan. After three months settling in it all starts here for Prosinečki and the team propping up Group H without a point. At home to Malta, the FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF playmaker will be keen to start with a bang.
Kazakhstan v Iceland – (Betting Odds Available on Sportpesa.com)
Will Iceland go the distance?
Iceland have travelled 5,000km to face Kazakhstan (further than any other team in this campaign), but it will be well worth it if they return to Reykjavik with a Group A win that will keep them in line to qualify for a major tournament for the first time. The sides have never met before, and while the return of Eidur Gudjohnsen has dominated the build-up, Gylfi Sigurdsson has been Iceland’s key man so far with four goals and an assist.
Courtesy of : www.uefa.com