While there is no domestic action to enjoy this weekend, there is plenty of key international football to enjoy, starting tonight with the Nations League semifinal between Italy and Spain in Milan. Tomorrow sees the second semifinal of that competition as France and Belgium clash in Turin.
The third-place match and Final will then be played on Sunday, with the final in Milan following on from the 3rd place game in Turin.
However, on Friday and Saturday, the action focuses on the qualification campaign for the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar, with Matchday 7 taking place in Europe, followed by Matchday 8 on Monday and Tuesday next week.
The home nations are in action this week with some very important games for them which could see them either enhance their prospects of qualifying for the Finals, or at least the Playoffs as one of the eight best runner up teams, while others are just hoping to get a bit of form to regain some confidence after a tough campaign.
Of course, such a busy week of top-quality international games means that there is likely to be plenty of interest in the betting markets for many of these games. As such, bet365 Sport offers a wide selection of markets on all international matches, both pre-match and In Play.
And if you are based in the United States, then you can find excellent international soccer betting with BetRivers Sportsbook, which is available in a number of states where sports betting is legal.
Let’s now preview the two Nations League semifinal ties being played Wednesday and Thursday nights this week.
Nations League SemiFinals
Italy v Spain
- Date – Wednesday 6th October
- Kick Off – 7.45pm
- Venue – San Siro, Milan
These two teams met in the Euro 2020 semifinals which saw Italy win the game on penalties after a 1-1 draw in a game that Spain really had the better of. Italy went on to win the tournament with another penalty victory over England, and with home advantage here, they should be considered strong favourites to be the second team to win the Nations League after Portugal.
Italy have continued their dominant form, unbeaten now in 40 games at international level but their performances have not been quite as consistent as they were in the Euros in the summer and this may give Spain hope.
The Spanish will want revenge for that Euro semi final loss but I am not sure they will get it here. Back Italy to take the win at 5/4 with bet365 Sport.
France v Belgium
- Date – Thursday 7th October
- Kick Off – 7.45pm
- Venue – Allianz Stadium, Turin
France defeated Belgium on their way to the World Cup Final in 2018 and the last six games between these two teams have seen 2 wins apiece and two 0-0 draws. With a place in the final in Milan on Sunday for the winner, we have to have a winner here and that could make for a more exciting game.
France’s form since their World Cup win has been a little erratic to say the least. At times they have been sublime, but at other times they have looked very ordinary. Belgium’s form, in contrast, has been very solid after their exit to Italy in the European Championships quarterfinals.
In truth, this is a very tough game to call and you can make a case for either team to win it in 90 minutes, but I think the most likely outcome here is a draw and then extra time and penalty kicks deciding who wins and that could be a lottery. Back the draw at 90 minutes at 11/5 with bet365.
The two winners will progress to the final of the Nations League which will be contested on Sunday in Milan, with the third place game between the two losers kicking off a little earlier in Turin.
World Cup Qualifiers – Key Games
Alongside the Nations League games this week, from Friday, we have Matchday 7 and Matchday 8 of the World Cup Qualifiers taking place across Europe. Matchday 7 is played on Friday and Saturday with Matchday 8 taking place on Monday and Tuesday.
While the four Nations League semifinalists won’t play a game, the remaining teams in the qualification campaign will play at least once and most likely twice in what could be a pivotal week of action and which could see the first European qualifiers confirmed for the World Cup Final in Qatar in December 2022.
Let’s take a look at the full list of games taking place across both match days. Kick off times are 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.
Friday 8th October
- Czech Republic v Wales
- Estonia v Belarus
- Gibraltar v Montenegro
- Russia v Slovakia
- Cyprus v Croatia
- Latvia v Netherlands
- Liechtenstein v North Macedonia
- Iceland v Armenia
- Turkey v Norway
- Germany v Romania
- Malta v Slovenia
Saturday 9th October
- Kazakhstan v Bosnia and Herzegovina (2pm)
- Lithuania v Bulgaria (2pm)
- Azerbaijan v Republic of Ireland (5pm)
- Sweden v Kosovo (5pm)
- Finland v Ukraine (5pm)
- Scotland v Israel (5pm)
- Georgia v Greece (5pm)
- Faroe Islands v Austria
- Luxembourg v Serbia
- Hungary v Albania
- Andorra v England
- Moldova v Denmark
- Poland v San Marino
- Switzerland v Northern Ireland
Monday 11th October
- Cyprus v Malta (5pm)
- North Macedonia v Germany
- Netherlands v Gibraltar
- Romania v Armenia
- Slovenia v Russia
- Croatia v Slovakia
- Iceland v Liechtenstein
- Estonia v Wales
- Latvia v Turkey
- Belarus v Czech Republic
- Norway v Montenegro
Tuesday 12th October
- Kazakhstan v Finland (3pm)
- Ukraine v Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Kosovo v Georgia
- Lithuania v Switzerland
- Sweden v Greece
- Serbia v Azerbaijan
- Faroe Islands v Scotland
- Israel v Moldova
- Albania v Poland
- England v Hungary
- Denmark v Austria
- Bulgaria v Northern Ireland
- San Marino v Andorra
- Portugal v Luxembourg
What Should I Look Out For?
A number of teams such as Belgium, Denmark, England and Germany all could, if results go their way in their group games, could all seal top spot in their groups across Matchdays 7 and 8. Denmark are the team most likely to qualify first having picked up the maximum 18 points from their six games so far, and they are yet to concede a goal too.
Other key games see Scotland take on Israel in a game that will have massive implications for who will likely finish second behind Denmark in Group F. Wales also face a huge crunch game in the Czech Republic knowing that a win or a draw could put them in with a chance of finishing second behind the Belgians.
In England’s group, if the Three Lions win both their games at Andorra and at home to Hungary then they will almost be certain of qualifying unless Albania can win both their games this week against Hungary and Poland, which is a big ask. However, if Hungary or Poland can win both their games, England may need one more point to qualify.
There’s also lots of key action in Group H where Croatia and Russia are battling it out, Switzerland need two wins to go level on points with Italy in Group C, while two wins for Sweden would see them topple Spain at the top of Group B.
Group G is arguably the most competitive with the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey embroiled in a battle for the top and second spot in what has been a very difficult to predict group.
It should be a very interesting set of games, after which we will know a lot more about how things stand in terms of the teams from Europe that will be in Qatar in 2022 to compete for the World Cup once again.