Check out our previews before taking a shot at predicting the outcome to win yourself some cash in tonight's international fixtures.
International friendlies and World Cup 2018 qualifiers make up the fixtures in Pool 2 of our Soccer 6 competition this Thursday. After manager Gordon Strachan’s departure, Scotland test the waters against the Netherlands, while N. Ireland are on course for their first World Cup in over 30-years in a first-leg play-off against Switzerland. Read through our previews before taking a shot at predicting the outcome.
1 – N. Ireland V Switzerland
Northern Ireland put in some strong performances during group qualification and finished a respectable 2nd place in Group C, they were never going to take the automatic spot from Germany. They beat out Czech Republic and Norway to earn themselves this play-off tie and although they lost to the latter last time out, they’ve been in good form and are fearless at home. Only Germany and Croatia have beat Northern Ireland at Winsor Park in the last two years. Switzerland narrowly missed out on the automatic qualification spot in Group B on goal difference to Portugal. The Portuguese were the only team to beat them with the Swiss winning their other nine matches. However, the group contained Latvia, Hungary, Faroe Islands and Andorra, so were hardly the most challenging opposition. N. Ireland home win or draw.
2 – Scotland V Netherlands
The wait for a major tournament continues for Scotland after failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia saw them part ways with manager Gordan Strachan. Malky Mackay has taken the reigns as caretaker boss and will look to find out where things went wrong, but also maintain some momentum as performances certainly improved during the latter part of qualifying. Their visitors for this friendly match are the Netherlands, who also suffered disappointment after Sweden took the 2nd place spot on goal difference meant they failed to qualify for their second successive major tournament. Mackay looks like he’ll take some chances on a relatively inexperienced squad so we think the Netherlands will end up getting the better of this match. Netherland away win or draw.
3 – Croatia v Greece
Iceland pulled off another surprise by out qualifying Turkey, Ukraine and Croatia to finish top of their group and make it to Russia 2018, which left the play-off spot to Croatia. At home they are in a great position to get the advantage in this first-leg, they’ve won twelve of their fifteen home games since the World Cup in Brazil and drawn three. They’ve also been defensively sound and kept clean sheets in eleven of those victories, which doesn’t bode well for Greece who lack an attacking edge. The Greeks are defensively minded and will be on damage control so this could be a low scoring affair. Croatia home win.
4 – China V Serbia
China failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia with Iran and South Korea taking the top two spots in their group. They took seven points from their final three games, beating Qatar 2-1 away in the most recent at the beginning of September, but they’ll now be looking ahead to the East Asian Football Championship in December. Despite topping their group ahead of the Republic of Ireland and Wales to make it to Russia, Serbia parted ways with experienced manager Slavoljub Muslin. Within interim manager Mladen Krstajic at the helm and China on home soil, we’d back a stalemate. Draw.
5 – South Korea V Colombia
Both teams managed to qualify for Russia 2018 and meet for a friendly at the Suwon World Cup Stadium in South Korea. South Korea took the 2nd place spot in their group with a 7-point gap to Iran in 1st, their final two performances lacked bite and finished in goalless draws with Iran and Uzbekistan. They’ve since managed to find the net but only in friendly defeats to Russia (4-2) and Morocco (3-1) last month. Colombia are also out of form with three draws and a loss in their last four qualifying matches. They’ll be without injured Monaco striker Radamel Falcao so the hosts will fancy their chances. Draw.
6 – Japan V Brazil
Japan and Brazil meet for a friendly in Lille and both sides come into this in good form and having topped their respective World Cup qualifying groups. Japan have been solid at the back through much of their campaign, but saw that discipline slightly waver recently when they drew 3-3 in a friendly with Haiti last month. Brazilian’s only defeat in their last fifteen matches came against Argentina and they come into this on the back of a 3-0 victory over Chile. Brazil away win.