The final Group games in the UEFA Nations League take place in September and Croatia are the pick to win their Group and reach the playoffs.
Who do Bettors Favor?
The top betting providers are predicting a close race in the latest UEFA Nations League tournament. According to the best-rated online sportsbooks Netherlands are the strong favorites at +350 while Spain and Germany are close behind on +450. Belgium, Denmark, and Portugal are all closely matched, while Italy is +1000 to make up for missing out on the 2022 World Cup
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What is the Nations League?
You may be familiar with the Champions League, the World Cup and the various domestic European leagues. But what is the Nations League? This controversial tournament was created by UEFA to provide more meaningful international football in between the two main competitions, the World Cup and the European Championships, with a league system enabling promotion and relegation.
The 55 UEFA national teams have been divided into four tiers: Tiers A thru C with 16 teams each and the bottom tier consisting of just six. These tiers are further divided into four Groups. Winning your Group in Tiers B, C or D means being promoted to the next tier for the following season, but the Tier A winners go into a play-off competition to determine the winners of the Nations League.
The 2022-23 edition is the third staging of this tournament, which has had a mixed reception among European football fans. Portugal and France won the first two editions.
Croatia Can Claim Group A1
The big story in the first of the Tier A groups has been the poor performance of France. They’ve picked up two points from their first four games, which means they cannot qualify for the play-offs and will need to work hard to avoid dropping into Tier B.
Denmark have taken advantage and currently lead the section on nine points, but Croatia are only two points behind and have the better schedule. The two teams will meet on September 22, but Croatia will have home advantage, and in their final round, Denmark have to play France, while Croatia take on Austria. That makes Croatia a solid bet and they can claim Group A1.
Group A2 Too Hard to Call
All four teams in Group A2 can still qualify for the play-offs, although Spain and Portugal are the clear favorites, as expected. Portugal had taken control of the Group after Spain dropped points in their first two games, but a surprise defeat in Switzerland means that Portugal are now a point behind their neighbors, although with a better goal difference.
The all-Iberian clash in Portugal on September 27 looks like being the defining game for the Group, but with Switzerland and the Czech Republic still technically in with a shot of finishing top, this section looks too hard to call and there are no clear wagers to be had here.
Italy the Pick in Group A3
Group A3 was expected to be the toughest of the four Tier A sections, as it featured Germany along with Euro 2020 finalists Italy and England. So, it is a major surprise to find that the Group underdogs Hungary are top of the table with two rounds of fixtures to go. Two victories over England and a draw against Germany have enabled Hungary to steal an advantage, but they will struggle to hold it.
And while Germany are the closest challengers to the Group leaders, third placed Italy look like a better pick here. They will first play against England at the San Siro, and with little left to play for, England may use that game as a World Cup warm-up. Roberto Mancini’s Italy will then be up against Hungary in their final round, while Germany will play England at Wembley: a potentially tricky tie.
Netherlands Hard to Beat
Group A4 has proven to be less competitive than expected, despite the presence of two of the giants of European football: Netherlands and Belgium, as well as mid-ranking teams Poland and Wales, both of whom can be dangerous on their day.
Louis van Gaal’s team took control of the Group in their very first fixture, securing an impressive 4-1 victory in Brussels and followed that up with a solid away win against Wales. They dropped two points against Poland, but Belgium were unable to take advantage, and a winning goal from Mephis Depay three minutes into injury time, just seconds after Wales had equalised in Game Four kept the men in orange on top of the table, also ensuring that Wales cannot win the Group.
With home advantage for their final game against rivals Belgium, the Netherlands will be hard to beat to the top of the table from here but at very short odds they won’t appeal to many bettors.