The busy week of international matches is here and as nations go into the triple header of matches, we have already been served the first round surprises with some of the giants struggling to cope. It doesn’t seem, however, that they will struggle for long; it all looked like a hiccup before normalcy resumes.
The biggest shock, without a doubt, came at Istanbul when a star-studded Netherlands side was hammered 4-2 by their hosts, Turkey. The home team was so good and for long periods showed flashes of brilliance, confidently dictating the pace of play. However they were given a stark reminder of who they were playing with when the Dutch scored two quick goals in the 75th and 76th minutes to bring the scores to 3-2 before the hosts rounded it up with a fourth.
That was definitely a shocker, given the form Netherlands carried to the game and it must have rung bells of their qualification campaign for 2018 World Cup, which of course they were among the big absentees.
Next up is a home game against Latvia and away to Gibraltar and on Wincomparator, these are games Netherlands are backed to win in the WC football betting tips.
World champions France also stumbled as they officially started the defence of their title. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine in Paris, and for a team they had just a few months earlier thrashed 7-1, albeit in a friendly match, it was a massive low for the French.
The game had its fair share of unfortunate occurrences but the biggest of them was Presnel Kimpembe’s own goal in the 57th minute, with Antoine Griezmann having given the home team an early lead with a 19th minute goal. There was no coming back for the French.
However, away games against Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina should be manageable for the French and soon they will be top of their group.
Former world champions Spain also fumbled on the opening day of the qualification matches, drawing 1-1 with Greece. Playing at home, the Spaniards were cruising from the start and were well rewarded by in-form Alvaro Morata’s 33rd minute goal. They went to the break leading by that one goal but their fire just died down in the second half as Greece picked up. The visitors were well rewarded when they won a penalty in the 56th minute and Anastasios Bakasetas dispatched it.
Spain’s best efforts would not yield a win but they are perennial achievers in this field and should come good. In their last 64 matches in World Cup qualifiers, Spain have no loss. They next play away to Georgia then home to Kosovo, and these are both winnable matches for Spain.
Though it has not been so rosy for them in the recent matches, winning just one of the last five, Spain have eight wins in the last 10 World Cup qualification matches and should be able to handle this.