Nations League – Nordic nation to continue resurgent form


THERE'S more Nations League action to come on Tuesday and Tom Love (@TomLove_18) is in the hot-seat to shares his thoughts on the best angles of attack.

Norway v Bulgaria | Tuesday 16th October 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports

We had a winner with Norway doing the business at home to Slovenia on Saturday and I’m happy to go back in on the Lions on Tuesday night as they welcome Bulgaria.

Defensive midfielder Ole Selnaes grabbed the only goal to prolong Norway’s nine-game unbeaten run on their own patch. Gaffer Lars Lagerback reverted to a 4-3-3 formation with cousins Tarik and Mohammed Elyounoussi flanking Josh King, and they weren’t afraid to drop into a 4-5-1 in the second half in order to shut up shop.

It’s defensively where the home side have excelled; they’re well drilled, organised in their structure and can defend from the front capably.

Norway lost 1-0 in Sofia and that leaves them three points behind their opponents. However, there’s a big expectation that they can at least go level with them here.

Bulgaria came from behind to defeat Cyprus in the other game in this four-strong group. They went away to Slovenia and snatched a 2-1 win in a game they were largely dominated in, with young talent Bozhidar Kraev grabbing both goals.

Aside from that victory, Bulgaria’s away record has been very poor in recent times, drawing only one and losing seven of their last eight on the road.

The Nations League is a big deal for the teams in these groups and promotion to Group B is a big step to possible Euro 2020 qualification. Norway have the superior squad in my eyes and the respective home/away form of these two teams has it firmly in their favour.

I’m going to bolster the 8/13 on the hosts to a more palatable odds-against quote by throwing in Under 3.5 Goals (21/20 Betway). Norway tend to be pragmatic in their approach and I’d expect them to set-up in a rigid formation should they go 1-0 up and try play on the break.

The hosts have won six in a row on native soil and five of those victories have seen fewer than four goals.

Ukraine v Czech Republic | Tuesday 16th October 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports

Group B1 looks like it will be between these Ukraine and Czech Republic for the top spot and promotion to Group A.

The reverse fixture in September saw Ukraine go to Prague and pick up all three points in a 2-1 win courtesy of a 93rd minute winner from Manchester City’s Oleksander Zinchenko, and that puts the pressure on the Czechs to come here and get something.

It’s been maximum points so far in the Nations League for the Yellow-Blue hosts; they always boast an attacking threat off the wings with Yehven Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko. And under the guidance of legend Andriy Shevchenko they’ve proved hard to beat, unbeaten in eight and that makes the 3/4 on the home side look a fair price. However, they have conceded in six of those eight.

On the other hand, Jaroslav Silhavy’s visitors have been rather inconsistent this year, although goals have tended to feature in their games. There’s been 22 goals in the Czech Republic’s past six in all competitions – that averages out at nearly 3.70 goals per-game in that time period.

There’s strong enough attacking options available for the Czechs too. Young prodigy Patrick Schick scored early in the reverse fixture, creative fulcrum Borek Dockal continues to perform well and they have the in-form Viktoria Plzen striker Michael Krmencik available. I’m quite optimistic that they can get on the scoresheet here in a game they have to target a result from.

International football doesn’t usually entail as many goals as domestic competition and therefore odds are usually attractive and that is the case here. Both Teams To Score has been chalked up at 6/5 (Bet365) and that looks a decent price.

BTTS has landed in the last three Czech Republic games and three of Ukraine’s last four fixtures, including the reverse fixture between these two.

Best Bets

Norway v Bulgaria – Norway to win and Under 3.5 Goals (21/20 Betway)

Ukraine v Czech Republic – Both Teams To Score (6/5 Bet365)

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