As the international break moves into gear, the delayed Nations League finals begin in Italy on Wednesday evening in Milan.
Switched from the summer to accommodate Euro 2020, the second edition of the tournament’s finals take place over three days, with the final on Sunday at San Siro. As the four teams to finish top of their respective League A Groups, Italy, Belgium, France and Spain will face off to determine the 2021 champions after Portugal become the inaugural winners three years’ ago on home turf.
To begin, Italy and Spain meet in a rematch of their Euro 2020 semi-final meeting at Wembley back in July. The Azzurri, as European Champions are currently sitting on a pedestal but since beating England in the final, have been in a bit of a haze in terms of form.
Despite putting five past Lithuania, Roberto Mancini’s men were held by both Switzerland in Basel and rather more surprisingly, at home to Bulgaria in Florence during World Cup Qualifying last month. Similarly, Spain have begun their route to Qatar in mixed fashion with wins over Kosovo and Georgia coupled with defeat to Sweden.
To reach Sunday’s final in their own back yard, Italy are reasonably priced favourites at 6/5 with PaddyPower, MansionBet and Bet365. La Furia Roja meanwhile are longer valued, again with Bet365 at 11/4. As Luis Enrique’s charges lock horns with the Italians again, Spain do so in the knowledge they pushed familiar foes all the way to spot kicks the last time they met, and with another finale spot at stake, could history repeat itself? For either team to win via a potential shootout, SkyBet are carrying 5/1 odds.
With a 1-1 scoreline after extra time at Wembley back in the summer, Federico Chiesa continued his hot streak in front of goal during the Euros. Now holding a tally of three goals in seven games, should the Juventus forward start against Spain, for Chiesa to score alone in 90mins, SkyBet’s 9/1 boost is surely worth a small lay.
It the second semi, France meet Belgium in Turin. Of the four to reach the climax of the Nations League, only the latter have won all three of their games since the Euros, whilst France have beaten only Finland after draws to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine. As World Champions however, Les Bleus will be tough to unseat and of the two, this particular clash looks the more difficult to call.
The bookies have little to separate the two on paper with 19/12 the longest price for the French, whilst for Roberto Martinez’ men to progress to the final – after losing in the last four in 2018 – 21/10 value is on the table, both with SBK. This one could be close then and if we consider that in four of the last seven meetings between these two nations just one goal has been scored, for their latest chapter to result in under 1.5 goals, 15/8 odds with Betfair and UniBet might be worth pursuing.