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Nations League - Football: Thursday preview

There are four exciting Nations League A fixtures on Thursday and world champions France are among the teams in action.

Les Bleus host Austria while Wales, who are looking forward to their first World Cup appearance since 1958, are 8/1 to upset a star-studded Belgium side in Brussels.

What

Belgium vs. Wales, Nations League

Where

King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels

When

19:45, Thursday 22nd September 2022

How to watch

S4C & Premier Sports 1

Odds

Belgium 2/5, Wales 7/1, Draw 7/2

Welsh defenders face another tough test in Brussels

Wales took just one point from their four Nations League Group A4 matches in June and they will be relegated if they lose to Belgium on Thursday and Poland avoid defeat against the Netherlands.

Welsh manager Rob Page can be proud of his side's performances in the competition, however, as all three of their defeats came thanks to late goals for their opponents.

Poland struck in the 85th minute of their opener to secure a 2-1 victory and the Dutch needed injury-time goals in 2-1 and 3-2 wins over Page's men.

The boot was on the other foot in Wales's other fixture, as Nottingham Forest youngster Brennan Johnson scored an 86th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Belgium.

The teams also drew 1-1 in last November's World Cup qualifier so Wales know they can compete with the Red Devils, whose Nations League campaign began with a shock 4-1 home defeat to the Netherlands.

Roberto Martinez's men, 4/11 to keep alive their finals hopes with a win over Wales on matchday five, bounced back by thrashing Poland 6-1 and another high-scoring home victory could be worth backing on Thursday.

Both teams have scored in all four of Wales's Nations League matches, as well as in their last four meetings with Belgium. That trend is 11/10 to continue in Brussels and Belgium are 12/5 to win a game in which both teams find the net.

Wales are missing experienced midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen but they should have key forward Gareth Bale available. The skipper was his nation's hero in the World Cup playoffs, scoring both goals in a 2-1 semi-final win over Austria before his deflected free-kick gave Wales a 1-0 victory against Ukraine in the final.

Bale is 9/1 to be the first goalscorer at the King Baudouin Stadium while Belgium maestro Kevin De Bruyne, who has scored in two of his last three games against Wales, is 6/1 to break the deadlock.

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WhatPoland vs. Netherlands, Nations League
WhereStadion Narodowy, Warsaw
When19:45, Thursday 22nd September 2022
How to watchBoxNation
OddsPoland 5/2, Draw 5/2, Netherlands 1/1

In-form Dutch forwards eyeing more goals

The Netherlands, favourites to top a 2022 World Cup group featuring hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal, boosted their confidence with some impressive results in June's Nations League fixtures.

Louis van Gaal's men claimed a 4-1 win away to Belgium and beat Wales 2-1 and 3-2 either side of a 2-2 draw at home to Poland, in which they fought back from 2-0 down.

Since their disappointing last-16 exit against the Czech Republic at Euro 2020, the Dutch are unbeaten in 13 internationals, scoring 38 goals during that run.

A 6-1 World Cup qualifying win over Turkey and a 4-2 friendly victory over Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark were among their most eye-catching results and they can expect to create more chances against a suspect Polish defence so over 3.5 goals is worth considering at 2/1.

The Poles were thumped 6-1 by Belgium on matchday two of the Nations League and lost 1-0 at home to a second-string Red Devils side in their fourth group game.

Barcelona teammates Robert Lewandowski and Memphis Depay head the first-goalscorer betting at 4/1 and 9/2 respectively but highly-rated PSV forward Cody Gakpo could be the best bet at 17/2 after scoring seven goals in his last six club games.

WhatFrance vs. Australia, Nations League
WhereStade de France, Paris
When19:45, Thursday 22nd September 2022
How to watchPremier Extra Odds
OddsFrance 4/11, Draw 15/4, Austria 13/2

Depleted world champions are worth opposing

France's preparations for the defence of their World Cup crown are not going smoothly and they look vulnerable favourites currently at 4/11 to beat Nations League visitors Austria.

Didier Deschamps is dealing with a serious injury crisis and Les Bleus are missing a clutch of senior players including striker Karim Benzema, midfielders N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba and goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris.

Les Bleus have great depth of talent so Austria could still face attacking stars such as Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele, who has made a bright start to the 2022/23 season with Barcelona.

However, the draw or Austria double chance appeals at 2/1 given that France lost at home to Denmark and Croatia in June's Nations League games. They were also held to 1-1 draws away to Austria and Croatia and that correct score is currently a 17/2 chance.

Austria are also depleted by injuries, although not to the same extent as their hosts, but experienced trio David Alaba, Marcel Sabitzer and Marko Arnautovic should all start. Arnautovic has made a blistering start to the Serie A campaign with Bologna, scoring six goals in seven outings, and he is 12/1 to be the first goalscorer at the Stade de France.

WhatCroatia vs. Denmark, Nations League
WhereStadion Maksimir, Zagreb
When19:45, Thursday 22nd September 2022
How to watchPremier Sports 2
OddsCroatia 29/20, Draw 9/4, Denmark 2/1

Denmark target finals spot after excellent start

Croatia were runners-up at the 2018 World Cup and Denmark reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and both teams are in the running for a Nations League finals place after strong starts to Group A1.

Denmark are looking to claim a fourth win in five matches away to Croatia, who beat them 1-0 in Copenhagen in June.

That defeat was the only blot on the Danes' record as they claimed 2-1 victories away to France and Austria before seeing off the Austrians 2-0 at home on matchday four.

Mario Pasalic's 69th-minute goal proved decisive in the reverse fixture between these sides and another tight contest is on the cards.

Both squads are in good shape, with former Tottenham playmakers Luka Modric and Christian Eriksen set to lock horns in midfield, but goals could be in short supply.

Croatia have scored just three times in their first four Nations League matches, and two of those were penalties. Under 2.5 goals is 13/20 and the draw looks a big runner at 9/4.

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