IT'S been a long week and one I’d rather forget on and off the betting field but hoping Friday brings a welcome break and I’m turning to the Nations League for a match featuring teams with both chequered shirts and chequered form.
CROATIA v ENGLAND
This game has a strange symmetry to it; not long since that both were going head to head in a game with the world at their feet but football can be a fickle mistress and each side now look to be fighting out a potential ‘drop’ into the 2nd tier of this obscure NL format.
The World Cup game may have been relatively low scoring but both teams found the net and the historic H2H’s actually have a very productive profile with match goals totals of 2-6-5-5-2-6-4 since 2003 with only one of those games failing to see both teams scoring.
Different times and different squads but international football is pretty consistent when it comes to H2H’s and it’s worth noting those goal stats…it’s also worth paying attention to another market that has stood me in good International stead over the last cpuple of years and that comes in the shape of corners.
England were red-hot on their set-pieces in the World Cup and if we’re being honest, without them they wouldn’t have gone as far as they did – can’t help but notice how many times England are awarded a corner within the opening stages and that will form the basis for one of my selections.
I think the current setup is very much geared towards pushing the flanks and seeking out those opportunities to get to the byline where the resultant corners are very much a welcome reward when you have folk with massive foreheads like Kane and Maguire waiting in the box!
Plenty of brave squad additions by Southgate who’s clearly not afraid to base selections on club form and that’s refreshing to see – I hear a lot about the youngster Sancho from Dortmund but have yet to see him play so will be interesting to see if he gets a run-out.
I’ve a feeling it may be a pretty decent match – history has certainly not been shy of offering up plenty of action and, of course, there’s the little matter of avenging that very recent and very sore World Cup exit for the travelling England team.