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Euro 2020 Qualifier Tips: 24th & 25th March
by David Lenton
It’s the second of our articles on the Euro 2020 Qualifiers this week.
It was a poor first round for me tips wise so hoping to get back on track with this set of predictions.
There’s a number of big games starting with a huge game in Amsterdam on Sunday night as Holland meet their fierce rivals Germany.
Other games in this group of fixtures include Wales’ first game in the qualifiers as they take on Slovakia in Cardiff in what could well be a hugely important game in the context of that group, bearing in mind only two teams go through.
We’ve also got England’s second game of qualifying a tricky trip to Montenegro to take on the home side, a team that England have had a few issues with in the past.
Let’s take a closer look at each game now and bring you our tips for each.
Euro 2020 Qualifier Tips: Sunday 24th March
March 24, 2019
Cardiff City Stadium
March 24, 2019
Cardiff City Stadium
Wales warmed up for their opener with Slovakia with a narrow 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. Connor Woodburn scoring the goal late in the game.
Slovakia got off to a solid start in their Euro 2020 campaign by earning a 2-0 home win over Hungary on Thursday. Duda and Rusnak scoring the goals.
Wales will likely recall Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks for the game with Slovakia, but Sam Vokes, Ethan Ampadu and Tom Lawrence will miss out.
The teams have met three times previously, Wales losing 5-1 at home in October 2006, before winning 5-2 away 12 months later. They also beat Slovakia 2-1 in Euro 2016.
It is fair to say that the game on Wednesday was a struggle for what was a youthful and inexperienced Wales side. However, they did only face Trinidad and Tobago, hardly a top side themselves and I think how laboured that victory was will worry Ryan Giggs a little heading into this game.
Slovakia are no mugs and they have already inflicted one heavy defeat on the Welsh on home soil several years ago. They have a team with some very talented players, notably Napoli’s Marek Hamsik, and although the Welsh beat them in Euro 2016, I think Wales have deteriorated a little since then, while Slovakia have probably improved a bit.
Originally, with Bale and Ramsey likely to return to the team, I was going to back the Welsh to win this, but I just feel this Slovakia team is set up to cause Wales some real problems on the counter and that Welsh back line doesn’t look the most secure to me.
As such, I am going to revise my opinion here and rather than back a narrow Wales win, I am going to take Slovakia to nab what could be a vital draw in the context of the group.
The home side cruised to victory over Belarus in their opener, winning 4-0. Memphis Depay with two goals plus a goal each for Liverpool duo Gio Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk.
Germany come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Serbia and with a new look team after manager Joachim Low refused to call up several more experienced stars.
The Dutch have the better of the recent games, beating Germany 3-0 in September 2018 and then drawing 2-2 in Germany a month later.
The teams have played 42 times previously with. Germany having had 15 wins to the Netherlands 11, but 16 matches between the teams have ended in draws.
This is one of the most fierce and bitter rivalries in European football and after the Dutch got the better of them in the Nations League last year, Germany will be hoping their new look team, minus the talents of Hummels, Muller and Boateng to name but three, can get a better result than the 3-0 pasting they took in Amsterdam back in September.
However, following their 1-1 draw with Serbia on Wednesday night, I am not sure Germany can achieve that. Their team looks very much like one that is a work in progress and at times, it was Serbia who looked by far the more likely to score a second goal.
The Dutch in contrast have come through a torrid spell, failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments, and now look much more like themselves. De Ligt and Van Dijk provide a solid defensive basis and with a crop of young talent coming through the ranks, they look well set for the next few years.
I can’t quite see the Dutch winning as easily as they did last time on home soil against the Germans but I am confident that they will get their Euro 2020 campaign off to a positive start by picking up the three points here.
England won their opener easy vs Czech Republic on Friday night, Raheem Sterling netting a hat-trick in an emphatic 5-0 drumming.
The home side made a good start to their Euro 2020 campaign when they earned a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria thanks to Mugosa’s goal.
England have never won in Montenegro, drawing on their last two visits 2-2 in October 2011 and then 1-1 in March 2013.
The teams have played four times in their history, three games finishing in draws. England won the last encounter in October 2013 by a 4-1 scoreline at Wembley.
England have had a few problems with Montenegro in the past, drawing three of the games played against them and winning the other (the last encounter between the teams). However, they face a Montenegro side who come into the game in good spirits after a battling performance in earning a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria on Friday afternoon.
England were hit by the withdrawal of several players from their squad before the game with the Czech Republic but still produced an excellent performance to beat their opponents 5-0 at Wembley, Raheem Sterling the star of the show netting a fine hat-trick with an own goal and a Harry Kane penalty wrapping up the other goals.
The trip to Podgorica will be a tricky one against a side that are talented but with England’s confidence as high as I can remember it being, following a very good World Cup and then reaching the Nations Cup semi final, I think Gareth Southgate’s men will be up to continue their solid start to Euro 2020 qualifying.
It won’t be as easy for England as it was at Wembley on Friday night, but they should still emerge from this one with a win in my view with a 2-0 scoreline sounding about right.
Despite recalling Ronaldo, Portugal were held at home 0-0 by the Ukraine in their opener which puts added pressure on them heading into this match.
Serbia warmed up for this game by drawing 1-1 in Germany. Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic netting the goal for the visitors in what was a strong display.
Both teams are unbeaten since losing in the World Cup last summer and both performed strongly in last year’s Nations League tournament.
The teams have met four times previously, the first two games finishing in 1-1 draws before Portugal won the next two games in March and October of 2015, both by a 2-1 scoreline.
I have to admit that I felt with Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the fold, Portugal would sweep aside the Ukraine on home soil and secure a winning start to their Euro 2020 campaign, however Ukraine produced a solid, gritty performance to nullify the Portuguese legend and they earned what could be a vital point on the road in Lisbon.
The value of that performance from the Ukraine is huge as Portugal will feel that they should win all their home games and that now puts pressure on both these teams to get something from this game as it will likely be the games between Serbia, Portugal and the Ukraine that decides which two teams qualify from this group.
Serbia looked a real threat at times against Germany last week and in Luka Jovic, they have one of European football’s most in form strikers. They also have Lazio ace Milenkovic-Savic, who is one of the top young midfielders in European football and who is a very solid presence in midfield.
That said, I can’t see Portugal losing this one but by the same token, Serbia created a number of chances against Germany and I can see them doing likewise here. A draw won’t help Portugal but would be a great result for Serbia and I think that is how this game will pan out.
David 'the Cheeky Punter' Lenton is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has also worked for a number of top bookmakers including Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. With such a long time spent dedicated to the gambling industry no one is better placed when it comes to advising punters. Follow on Twitter @thecheekypunter