Heavyweight Clashes Headline UEFA Nations League Matchday 1
The 2022-23 UEFA Nations League kicks off this week with some excellent matchups. Right off the bat, Spain takes on Iberian rivals Portugal in a must-watch match on Thursday. Other can’t miss fixtures include Belgium vs the Netherlands on Friday and Italy vs Germany on Saturday. We’ll run through the UEFA Nations League betting odds from these matchups in our Matchday 1 Preview.
What is the UEFA Nations League?
The UEFA Nations League involves all 55 member teams of UEFA in four-tiered leagues lettered A-D. It was created with the aim of eliminating meaningless friendlies and has consequences for both UEFA, Euro, and World Cup Qualifying.
Leagues A-C have 16 teams each, divided into four groups of four, while League D only has seven teams. These teams play a home and away double round-robin within their group. The group winners in League A advance to the Nations League finals. while the four last-place teams are relegated to Group B. First-place teams in the other leagues are promoted, while last place is relegated, except for in Group D.
This is the third installment of the Nations League and France was the 2020-21 Champions, defeating Belgium in the semifinal and Spain in the final. Italy won the third-place game vs Belgium. The first four matchdays in the 2022-23 league will be this June, while the last two will be played in September. The 2022-23 Nations League finals involving the four League A group winners are scheduled to take place next June.
Spain vs Portugal
Spain and Portugal will meet in another edition of the “Iberian War” at 2:45 pm EST on Thursday. Portugal has never defeated Spain on Spanish soil but can field a strong team with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, and Joao Cancelo all available for selection.
Given the matchup history, UEFA Nations League betting odds list Spain as +115 favorites, with Portugal priced at +260. A draw, which has occurred in the last four meetings between these two teams, sits at +230. Meanwhile, as the last two matchups have finished in scoreless draws, the under (2½) is implied to be more likely at -140.
Spain will look to control this match in the midfield, with players like Sergio Busquets, Thiago, Koke, and Rodi in the squad. Meanwhile, Ronaldo is the all-time international soccer leading goal scorer and he’ll look to score his fourth career goal vs Spain in this one.
Two Manchester City center backs are out as Portugal’s Ruben Dias is nursing a hamstring injury and Spain’s Aymeric Laporte is out with a knee issue.
Belgium vs The Netherlands
The “Low Countries Derby” is one of the most played fixtures in International soccer history, with over 125 meetings. Friday is a significant occasion, though, as it’ll be the first competitive meeting in nearly 25 years between the bordering nations. Soccer betting tips would historically suggest the Netherlands, as they comfortably lead the series, but Belgium is undefeated in the last eight matchups.
Belgium is +125 favorites in Brussels and they have the best player in the fixture, Kevin de Bruyne. After a Premier League season that went wire to wire De Bruyne would prefer resting over the upcoming internationals. He said “the Nations League is unimportant in my eyes” and that he’s “not looking forward to it”. It’s unclear whether the rest of a talented Belgium squad feels the same way.
A laissez-faire attitude could leave the door open for the Netherlands, priced at +225, to get a result here but they haven’t won in Belgium since 1996. They’ll also have to score past UEFA Champions League final man of the match and Real Madrid goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois.
Perhaps Dutch captain and Liverpool center-back Virgil van Dijk will be out for revenge after losing 1-0 to Courtois last Saturday. The Netherlands’ Memphis Depay is also one of Oranje’s top five scorers of all time.
A draw stands at +240, while both over and under 2½ are nearly on par, at -120 and -110, respectively.
Italy vs Germany
Two of the most successful national teams in history will face off on Saturday as Italy hosts Germany. This will be Italy’s first competitive match since falling to North Macedonia in March and failing to qualify for a second successive World Cup. They are, however, European Champions but their inconsistency over the last year has been startling.
UEFA Nations League betting odds suggest the Azzurri are the more likely winner, at +155, but this is a resurgent German team. Die Mannschaft, who sit at +190 odds, are 8-0-1 since Hansi Flick took over as coach last year. They were also the first team other than Qatar to punch their ticket to November’s World Cup.
Italy will only be on two days’ rest as they take on Argentina in the CONMEBOL-UEFA “Finalissima” on Wednesday. Without longtime striker Ciro Immobile, perhaps manager Roberto Mancini will go with younger options upfront like Gianluca Scamacca or Giacomo Raspadori.
In this pick’em, a draw is priced at +220 and the last two matchups in Italy have finished in deadlocks. The Azzurri have also drawn six of their last 11 matches in all competitions. The over/under goal total is 2½, with the under at -120 and the over a slightly less likely -110.
An aging Italian backline will need to be wary of Germany’s dangerous and pacey attackers. Leroy Sane, Timo Werner, and Serge Gnabry are all capable of causing big problems for Italy on Saturday.Follow us on Twitter