It’s less than two weeks before football’s premier showpiece event kicks off and teams are doing everything they can to find the starting eleven that will give them the best chance of success in Russia.
On Saturday, June 2nd, another set of international friendlies get underway and with England entertaining Nigeria, we take a look at all the other big fixtures taking place.
Austria vs Germany
The Germans will hop across the border to play Austria at the Wörthersee Stadion on Saturday, in what looks like quite a straightforward task for Joachim Low’s men on paper. This promises to be far from the case, in reality, as Austria haven’t lost this year and are currently on a six-game unbeaten streak. The latest prize scalp Austria claimed was Russia on Wednesday, May 30th. An Alessandro Schopf strike was enough to secure the win and heap more misery on a Russian team that looks worryingly ordinary.
The defending Fifa World Cup champions aren’t in sensational form and have lost to Brazil and drawn to Spain in their last two games. Given the close proximity of the two countries, this is somewhat of a derby and will carry extra importance for Austria who won’t be at the World Cup after failing to qualify. They will come hard at Germany and look to rattle Low’s cage. If Germany can avoid defeat, then this will have been a successful outing for them.
Belgium vs Portugal
Belgium vs Portugal is without a doubt the standout tie of all the fixtures on Saturday. There has been so much expected of Belgium of late, given the superstar team that they have assembled, and their fans will be desperate to see this golden generation lay claim to winning the World Cup. In Belgium’s last eight games they have scored 34 goals which gives them an average of 4.25 goals a game at the moment.
Portugal will pose a tougher threat but will have their defence breached at some point by the Belgians, especially when you consider that they let in two against Tunisia last time out. The Portuguese will be without Ronaldo again as he continues his mini-holiday after playing in the Champions League final with Real Madrid. It should be an end-to-end game that Belgium will feel confident enough to win but watching on will be England, who will be in the same group as Belgium.
At 5/6, Belgium are the favourites to win Group G in football betting and England will be wary of the threat they carry. Any slips up against Tunisia or Panama could have the Three Lions heading home early.
Iceland vs Norway
Iceland were the success story at Euro 2016 and have followed that up by qualifying for the World Cup. They take on Norway on Saturday after suffering back-to-back defeats against Mexico and Peru. What will be worrying Iceland is the fact that they conceded six whilst doing so. Norway, on the other hand, have won their last four games and, by doing so, have built up some good momentum. However, they won’t be at the World Cup after missing out on qualification.
Iceland’s current form shouldn’t be read into too deeply and when the times comes to kick off their campaign against Argentina, they will be right up for it. At 250/1 they are outsiders in World Cup betting to lift the trophy at Russia 2018 but, knowing Iceland, they will cause a few upsets along the way.
As for Saturday’s friendly match, they should win in front of their home fans and dismantle a Norwegian team that will have one eye on a summer break. It may be an exhibition game but this Iceland team will see the importance of finding some momentum and will certainly arrive looking for nothing less than a win.