QUALIFYING for Euro 2020 continues on Thursday night and international football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) unearths his favourite fancies.
Turkey v Iceland | Thursday 14th November 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
There’s a massive match taking place in Istanbul on Thursday evening as Turkey entertain Iceland in a crunch Euro 2020 Group G qualification showdown.
Turkey are on the brink of qualification, requiring only a point to progress to next summer’s tournament. Impressively, Senol Gunes’ side held France to a 1-1 draw last time out to lead the way in Group G due to their superior head-to-head record over the World Cup winners. A home tie with Iceland and an away trip to Andorra is all that’s now left to negotiate.
Iceland arrive in desperate need of maximum points. Our Boys know only victory will keep them in contention for one of the two automatic qualification berths as Erik Hamren’s troops are without the added safety net of a place in the play-offs following a poor Nations League campaign.
To make matters worse for Iceland, the visitors have already lost twice in their three previous away days in the pool – shipping four goals in defeat at France and Albania – and head here without experienced pair Aron Gunnarsson and Johann Berg Gudmundsson due to injury. Meanwhile, important cog Birkir Bjarnason is short of game time with Aston Villa.
The visitors have won each of their last three recent meetings with the Turks although it’s clear that Our Boys are a more fearsome force in Reykjavik. Nine of Iceland’s past 12 qualifying wins have arrived on home soil with the team’s road record on away or neutral venues since March 2018 reading W1-D5-L8 – that solitary success came away at Andorra.
Having taken four points off France, Turkey shouldn’t fear the Nordic nation and the hosts look well worth supporting at 4/5 (Blacktype) to extend their current six-match winning streak on home soil. That run of results includes four triumphs without conceding in this campaign here with the Crescent Stars particularly impressing at the back.
Leicester ace Caglar Soyuncu will be partnered by either Kaan Ayhan or Merih Demiral at centre-half and it remains to be seen whether Gunes will revert back to 4-1-4-1 here or continue with his recent switch to 4-3-3, especially so with neither Cenk Tosun nor Burak Yilmaz are getting regular playing time for their clubs.
Roma youngster Cengiz Under won’t feature, and whilst the promising youngster has a fine record in national team colours, Turkey have taken six wins from eight matches in his absence in 2019, with one of the exceptions the stalemate secured in Paris last month.
Czech Republic v Kosovo | Thursday 14th November 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
England have dominated proceedings in Group A and it looks like a straight two-way battle between Czech Republic and Kosovo for second spot and automatic qualification for Euro 2020. That means Thursday night’s match-up in Plzen promises plenty; tensions are sure to be high and cards will be an obvious play, but goals are also expected to flow.
There’s extra pressure on Kosovo as the Dardanians trail their hosts by a point with two rounds of matches to play. Bernard Challandes’ troops still have to host England but will be buoyed by their recent exploits when racking up three goals away at St Mary’s, as well as beating their latest opponents 2-1 when the pair locked horns in Pristina back in September.
Both Teams To Score has been chalked up as a 28/29 (VBet) chance and that looks too big to ignore. It’s a selection that’s paid out in all bar one of Kosovo’s six qualifiers as the visitors have only managed to silence rock-bottom Montenegro. It’s a similar story for the Czechs as the home side’s only shutout came against the same struggling Montenegrins.
Exclude Montenegro from Group A exploits and BTTS has banked in six of the duos combined seven preliminaries thus far with zero collective clean sheets kept. With this match of equal importance to both sides and defeat critical to qualification hopes, a goal could really see this contest light up. Back a goal-heavy game in Plzen.
Turkey v Iceland – Turkey to win (4/5 Blacktype)
Czech Republic v Kosovo – Both Teams To Score (28/29 VBet)