UEFA Nations League: what’s coming up

UEFA’s newest national team competition guarantees exciting competitive games every matchday; here is the best of what is coming up on matchdays three and four.

Thursday

The UEFA Nations League explained

The UEFA Nations League explained

Group A3: Poland v Portugal(20:45)
Robert Lewandowski’s expected century of caps will hog the pre-match headlines, but the hosts do not have fond memories of Portugal, who eliminated Poland on penalties in the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals. The European champions have set the early pace in the group, beating Italy in Lisbon in September more comfortably than the 1-0 scoreline suggests.

B2: Russia v Sweden (20:45)
Unbeaten against Sweden since 1994, Russia welcome the Scandinavians to Kaliningrad, a city closer to Stockholm than it is to Moscow. The visitors will hope that confers some advantage, given they are still hunting their first UEFA Nations League points following a dramatic defeat by Turkey in September.

Friday

A2: Belgium v Switzerland (20:45)
The group’s early frontrunners meet in Brussels, where Belgium are unbeaten since September 2016. The hosts boast an in-form Eden Hazard, who has scored on his last three international outings, but Roberto Martínez has warned that Switzerland – who thrashed Iceland 6-0 in their first UEFA Nations League fixture – are “really difficult opposition”.

A4: Croatia v England (20:45)
This repeat of the World Cup semi-final, in which Croatia edged England after extra time, takes place in Rijeka. Looking to respond to their 6-0 loss in Spain, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić is without retired trio Vedran Ćorluka, Danijel Subašić and Mario Mandžukić from that triumph in Moscow. England could hand senior debuts to James Maddison, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount.

Saturday

European Qualifiers: How the play-offs for UEFA EURO 2020 work

European Qualifiers: How the play-offs for UEFA EURO 2020 work

A1: Netherlands v Germany (20:45)
One of Europe’s oldest international rivalries has its UEFA Nations League bow in Amsterdam, with both the Netherlands and Germany hoping for a first win in the section. It is the first competitive meeting since Joachim Löw’s team won 2-1 in the UEFA EURO 2012 group stage; the Dutch have since failed to reach the last two major tournaments.

B1: Slovakia v Czech Republic (15:00)
This match in Trnava is Jaroslav Šilhavý’s first in charge of the Czech Republic. History is against the former Slavia Praha tactician – the Czechs having lost three of the last four against their neighbours – yet both countries are still chasing their first UEFA Nations League points after defeats by Ukraine in September.

Sunday

A3: Poland v Italy (20:45)
A “very important match” according to Poland boss Jerzy Brzęczek, whose nation have not beaten Italy since 1974, although they had the better of a creditable 1-1 draw in Bologna in September. Yet to win competitively under Roberto Mancini, Italy will be particularly wary of Poland striker Krzysztof Piątek, who has started his Serie A career with Genoa by scoring 13 goals in eight games.

B2: Russia v Turkey (18:00)
Buoyed by their dramatic late win in Sweden, Turkey are out to avenge a 2-1 reverse to Russia in Trabzon in the opening round of UEFA Nations League fixtures. The visitors have only beaten Russia once, back in 1975 when the latter were competing as the Soviet Union. The venue for this game, Sochi, witnessed the hosts’ World Cup quarter-finals demise in July.

Monday

A2: Iceland v Switzerland (20:45)
Still eyeing their first points in the pool, Iceland will bid to make amends for that 6-0 defeat in St Gallen in September, but they have never beaten Switzerland. Indeed, the Alpine outfit prevailed 2-0 on their last two visits to Reykjavik, in 1995 and 2012.

A4: Spain v England (20:45)
According to Spain coach Luis Enrique, England are “a very well-drilled team with a great coach”. Even so, the ex-Barcelona boss, who began his reign with two UEFA Nations League wins, may well be bullish ahead of this one: for the first time since 1995, La Roja play at the Benito Villamarín in Seville, where they have won 12 of their 13 fixtures.

Tuesday

A1: France v Germany (20:45)
Unbeaten in their last 13 games (W10 D3), France launched their UEFA Nations League campaign with a 0-0 draw in Germany in September. That extended a four-match unbeaten run (W2 D2) against the side they dethroned as world champions this summer, although Didier Deschamps is without the injured Nabil Fekir in Paris.

Group B4: Republic of Ireland v Wales (20:45)
Wales started the UEFA Nations League impressively, beating Ireland 4-1 in Ryan Giggs’ first competitive game in charge, although they then lost in Denmark. The hosts, whose assistant manager Roy Keane was a team-mates of Giggs at Manchester United, will try to maintain an unbeaten competitive record against the Welsh in Dublin.

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