Despite Germany failing miserably in Russia in the summer, few expected this poor run of form to spill out into their Nations League campaign. And no-one expected them to be heading into their final group game having already been relegated to the second tier of the competition.
Equally, few envisaged the Dutch going into their final game with a chance of winning the group. But that’s the scenario – and all because on Friday night the Netherlands produced one of the shocks of the tournament when they beat world champions France 2-0 in Rotterdam.
In addition to giving themselves a shot at winning the group, the Dutch also ended France’s impressive 15-game unbeaten run – one that included the small matter of a World Cup win.
It was no fluke though, with commentators in 100% agreement that Netherlands deserved the win; French keeper Hugo Lloris having to make a string of fine saves to keep the score line respectable. As it transpired, a tap-in from Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum and a late Memphis Depay penalty were enough for the Dutch win.
TOP TIP! – Netherlands to win – +320 / More than 3.5 goals – +200
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And now they go into Monday’s game knowing a draw will be enough to see them win the group and take their place in next June’s finals. If they succeed it will be at the expense of France, who only needed a point in Rotterdam to secure top spot.
Interestingly, by way of extra incentive, the winners of each group are also guaranteed a play-off place for Euro 2020, if they fail to progress from next year’s qualification.
It’s not all over for France though, who will still win the group if the already-relegated Germans beat the Dutch.
The bookies still have the Germans as odds-on favourites for this one though [5/6], which immediately tells us that the value is with the Dutch, and without even attempting to predict the score, the Netherlands at +320 888sport for the straight win is well worth a bet.
But, Joachim Löw will not want his German team to end this campaign with another defeat, neither will the Gelsenkirchen crowd, and so we anticipate an open end-to-end game with goals – even though for the Dutch a draw will suffice. Therefore we’re also tempted by Bet365’s generous +200 for +3.5 goals.
TOP TIP! – Norway to win 2-0 – +550 / Norway to win to nil – +151
Cyprus v Norway is not generally one to set the pulse racing but this one promises to be fascinating. Group C3 is on a knife edge, and what happens in Nicosia will have a major bearing on who wins the group.
As things stand, Norway top the group on 10 points, but only on goal difference. Bulgaria, in second, are only there by virtue of a single goal and in theory have the easier task on Monday night as they entertain bottom-of-the-table Slovenia.
So it really is all to play for and the prize of getting promoted to Group B is one worth having, especially as – amongst others – Germany will be in that group next time round.
What makes it doubly fascinating is that with just a goal separating Bulgaria and Cyprus, it will likely be one of those evenings where fortunes fluctuate minute-by-minute. A win, even a big win, may not be good enough, with both teams’ fate in the hands of the other.
We fancy Bulgaria’s home advantage to ultimately decide the group, but we do expect Norway to win in Cyprus – they’ve not lost to them in five meetings – and probably by two goals (as they have in their last three meetings), so the 2-0 at +550 with Bet365 looks well worth a punt. In a similar vein, Norway to win at nil at +151 with 188bet looks terrific value.
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