There’s plenty of international football to look forward to on Saturday, so here’s a selection of games not to be missed from Euro 2024 qualifying and international friendlies.
Euro 2024 qualifying
Saturday’s headline Euro qualifier comes from Group G, where the top two will go head-to-head in Budapest.
Just last month, Hungary caused a bit of an upset, coming from behind to defeat Serbia 2-1 at the Marakana, with Willi Orbán the match-winner in Belgrade.
This result propelled Marco Rossi’s side to the top of the table, level on points with their visitors, having played one game fewer.
While most would expect both to qualify for the Euros, this would represent Serbia’s debut, whoever wins this one would take a giant step towards a top two finish, and we’re backing a home win at Puskás Aréna.
Elsewhere, the winless bottom two meet in Sofia; both Bulgaria and Lithuania have just two points on the board, including drawing with each-other in Kaunas, so will either have a rare victory to celebrate?
Over in Group C, while England are running away at the top, it’s all to play for just below, given that Italy, Ukraine and North Macedonia all start the day with seven points to their name.
In the early kick off, Ukraine welcome North Macedonia to Prague, both in desperate need of the win that would keep them in the hunt.
In the reverse fixture in Skopje, Serhiy Rebrov’s side came from 2-0 down to win 3-2, scoring thrice in 21 second half minutes, but we foresee a slightly more comfortable Ukrainian win this time.
Then, on Saturday night, Italy welcome Malta to Stadio San Nicola for, what will be, their first international in Bari since 2016.
Luciano Spalletti’s side will almost certainly cruise to victory, but it’s very important that they do, given that Gli Azzurri travel to Wembley on Tuesday.
Another group that is very tight going into matchday seven is Group H, with just one point separating the top four.
Slovenia and Denmark both have 13 points, with the pair set to host Finland and Kazakhstan respectively, both of whom kick off on 12.
In Ljubljana, a victory for hosts Slovenia would move them one step closer to a first major tournament since 2010 although, having won the reverse fixture 2-0, Finland will believe they can get a priceless result.
Kazakhstan meantime have been the section’s surprise package, most-notably fighting back from 2-0 down to beat Denmark 3-2 in Astana back in March.
Nevertheless, following successive victories in September, de Rød-Hvide have moved back up to second, and Kasper Hjulmand’s team will be very confident of recording a 12th successive qualification win at Parken.
Lastly, since leaving Serravalle 2-0 winners on matchday one, Northern Ireland have endured five successive qualification defeats, their longest streak of loses in a single campaign since 2001.
Given that San Marino have never won a competitive match in 172 attempts, losing each of their last 42 qualifiers, surely Michael O’Neill’s team will pick up three points at Windsor Park, right?
1) Northern Ireland to win to nil. 2) Italy to win & over 2.5 goals. 3) Denmark to win to nil. 4) Slovenia vs Finland- under 2.5 goals. 5) Hungary to win. 6) Ukraine to win. 7) Bulgaria to win.
Back the above seven-fold acca at 27/1!
At 27/1, a £10 bet would return £281.91!
Euro 2024 qualifying
October 14, 2023
2:00 pm GMT+1
There are three international friendlies taking place on Saturday, all of which are intriguing.
Over in Connecticut, Julian Nagelsmann will take charge of Germany for the very first time.
Last month, Hansi Flick was sacked as die Mannschaft manager, following a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Japan, a result that left Germany winless in five friendlies, losing four of them.
In just eight months time, die Nationalelf will host next summer’s European Championships, so Nagelsmann certainly does not have a lot of time to turn this beleaguered side into a cohesive outfit.
Their opponents in this one are the United States, who themselves will host a tournament next June, namely Copa América, although they do have to get through a two-legged play-off next month to be there.
Last month, Gregg Berhalter’s team enjoyed emphatic wins over Oman and Uzbekistan, but now CONCACAF’s strongest team get to test themsleves against the four-times world champions at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.
Over in North Carolina, Mexico are looking to get back to winning ways, following underwhelming draws with both Australia and Uzbekistan in September.
El Tri will get their chance to take on Germany on Tuesday but, before then, Jaime Lozano’s team are under pressure to impress their fans, facing a Ghana team who are yet to taste defeat in 2023.
Lastly, speaking of African heavyweights, Côte d’Ivoire welcome Morocco to Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
Les Éléphants are preparing to host January’s AFCON, a tournament that became a little bit more real following Thursday’s draw.
Here, Morocco will provide a stern test, given that the Atlas Lions are amongst the favourites to win the Africa Cup of Nations, following their exploits at the World Cup.