The UEFA Nations League comes into view, with domestic football taking a backseat. Ahead of the next round of games, we have decided to break down five key games which could be worth watching. As ever, all of the UEFA Nations League is available via beIN SPORTS CONNECT.
Croatia v Spain
After being stunned 3-2 at home to England in the last round, Spain will be looking to seal top spot in group A4, and a place in June’s finals with a victory away to Croatia. After winning his first three games in charge, Spain boss Luis Enrique will have to rouse his side for a potentially tricky away engagement in Zagreb.
As for World Cup finalists Croatia, they will be playing in front of a packed stadium after serving their ban last time out against England. Zlatko Dalic’s side will certainly have revenge on their mind after being humbled 6-0 by La Rocha in their opening Nations League game.
Netherlands v France
France can book their place in the finals of the UEFA Nations League, with just a point away to the Netherlands. The World Champions are in fine form at the moment and are unbeaten in 15 matches. Although Didier Deschamps will be without a host of key players who have pulled out through injury ahead of the game. The likes of Paul Pogba, Antony Martial & replacement Alexandre Lacazette are all unavailable. Thankfully Les Bleus have a glut of world-class attacking talent and the likes Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann should be available for the match on Friday evening.
As for the Netherlands, they are coming into the contest off the back of an impressive 3-0 win over Germany. Not many pundits expected Ronald Koeman's side to thrive in Group 1A, however, the victory over age-old rivals Germany was just the result this young side needed. Now just a point from their final two games against France or Germany will assure survival. After making his debut last month, winger Steven Bergwijn is back in the squad and could be primed for a starting place after impressing domestically with PSV.
Wales v Denmark
Promotion from Group B4 is on the line when Wales take on Denmark in Cardiff. Wales currently top the group thanks in part to a 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland. Liverpool youngster Harry Wilson scored a spectacular free-kick to down the Irish, and Ryan Giggs knows that a victory will secure promotion. Wales will also be boosted by the inclusion of Gareth Bale & Aaron Ramsey, who missed out on the Ireland game through injury.
As for Denmark, a victory will assure promotion ahead of their final game of the campaign against Ireland on Monday. The Danes got the better of Wales when the sides met for their first ever UEFA Nations League game back in September thanks to a brace from Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen. The playmaker is often the standout player for his country and has three goals in his last six international appearances.
Italy v Portugal
The Azzurri will be looking to halt Portugal’s advance to the UEFA Nations League finals when the two sides take on each other at the San Siro on Saturday evening. After losing 1-0 to Portugal in his opening game in charge Roberto Mancini picked up a vital 1-0 win against Poland to assure survival in Group A3. Now only a victory against the 2016 European Champions will be enough to keep their qualification hopes alive. In team news, the likes of Andrea Belotti and Mario Balotelli have missed out on the squad. Whilst Captain Giorgio Chiellini is in line to win his 100th cap for his country.
Portugal needs just a point to assure a place in the finals and will have to do it without Cristiano Ronaldo who is again absent from the squad for a second consecutive Nations League match-day. Not that Fernando Santos’ side has missed the Juventus striker, registering two wins from their opening UEFA Nations League games. Based on current form, Bernardo Silva is one of the most exciting attacking players in Europe so expect the Manchester City man to start on Saturday.
Serbia v Montenegro
Serbia faces off against Montenegro in what promises to be a feisty encounter. Both nations competed as one country before Montenegro declared independence in 2006. The first-ever contest between the two countries occurred in October, with an Alexander Mitrovic brace sealing the tie.
Serbia will be boosted by the return of Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, who missed out on Octobers games through injury. His experience will be vital for Mladen Krstajic’s side who have yet to taste defeat in the UEFA Nations League.
As ever, you can watch all of the UEFA Nations League action Live & Exclusive with beIN SPORTS CONNECT.