World Cup holders France and Italy are both in Nations League action on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports, as they face Croatia and the Netherlands respectively.
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Can Croatia avenge World Cup final loss?
Croatia vs France – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
Team news – Croatia: The hosts are without the suspended Marcelo Brozovic, Mario Pasalic is likely to replace the Inter Milan midfielder while Tin Jedvaj, Borna Barisic and Domagoj Vida are pushing for recalls in defence.
Team news – France: Didier Deschamps made just two changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Portugal so Lucas Digne, Moussa Sissoko and Anthony Martial may be drafted into the team. Olivier Giroud could drop out of the France starting line-up having started the last two matches.
Player watch: There is plenty of Premier League interest with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba set for an intriguing battle with Luka Modric. United forward Martial is in line to face former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren. Nikola Vlasic, who scored in Croatia’s 2-1 win over Sweden, could come up against his former Everton team-mate Digne.
Heavyweights clash in Group A1
Italy vs Netherlands – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
Team news – Italy: Italy head coach Roberto Mancini made seven changes for the 0-0 draw with Poland with Andrea Belotti, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Chiesa coming into the side. Ciro Immobile is expected to start having been an unused substitute.
Team news – Netherlands: Memphis Depay was absent from the 0-0 draw with Bosnia & Herzegovina through suspension but is likely to replace Luuk De Jong in leading the line. Steven Berghuis is pushing for inclusion from the start.
Player watch: Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum was the only midfielder to retain his place in the side between the friendly defeat to Mexico and draw with Bosnia, but could be rested this time around.
Depay could come up against Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, who is pushing for a recall, while Stephan El Shaarawy will be keen for a chance to impress against Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.
Champions continue defence with Sweden test
Portugal vs Sweden – 7.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Football red button from 7.40pm
Team news – Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for coronavirus and will miss Portugal’s Nations League game against Sweden on Wednesday.
The defending Nations League champions have no fresh injury concerns from their 0-0 draw with France but Joao Cancelo and Joao Moutinho are pushing for starts.
Team news – Sweden: Ludwig Augustinsson has been allowed to leave the Sweden camp to re-join Werder Bremen while fellow defender Filip Helander has returned to Rangers following an injury.
Sweden have confirmed that an unnamed goalkeeper in the squad has picked up a minor problem, meaning Isak Pettersson has joined the travelling party as a fourth option.
Player watch: There will be the usual heavy representation of Wolves in the Portugal side. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio is set to earn his 90th cap for the national team after Lyon’s Anthony Lopes withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus.
Liverpool midfielder Diogo Jota‘s impressive cameo cameo against the World Cup holders will not have gone unnoticed by manager Fernando Santos. Everton stopper Robin Olsen will be eager for the chance to impress against Joao Felix.
England vs Denmark – Live on Sky Sports Main Event, kick-off 7.45pm
Team news – England: Ben Chilwell and Kieran Trippier have withdrawn from the England squad ahead of Wednesday’s Nations League fixture against Denmark. The reasons for their withdrawal were not specified but Sky Sports reported Chilwell returned to Chelsea due to a pre-existing foot injury while Trippier left the camp for personal reasons
Team news – Denmark: Martin Braithwaite and Christian Eriksen started both Denmark’s games over the past week but are unlikely to be afforded a rest but head coach Kasper Hjulmand could look to blood fresh legs elsewhere.
Mathias Jensen was an unused substitute against Iceland and could come into midfield while Pione Sisto is also pushing for a start.
Stat of the match: England have only lost one of their nine previous competitive meetings with Denmark (W5 D3), a 0-1 defeat in a qualifying for Euro 1984 under Bobby Robson.
Scotland vs Czech Republic – Live on Sky Sports Premier League, kick-off 7.45pm
Team news – Scotland: Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson picked up a booking against Slovakia, for kicking the ball away, which rules him out of Wednesday’s game and manager Scotland boss Steve Clarke says he will look into the possibility of calling up another defender.
Team news – Czech Republic: The Czechs only took 18 players to Haifa for Sunday’s 2-1 win over Israel after another bout of Covid trouble took hold in their squad. That came after the Viktoria Plzen trio of Lukas Kalvach, Jan Kopic and Zdenek Ondrasek were all stood down after one of their team-mates tested positive.
Since then, back-up goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, Fenerbahce defender Filip Novak, Hellas Verona midfielder Antonin Barak, Sparta Prague midfielder Borek Dockal and his 18-year-old team-mate Adam Hlozek have also been told to quarantine.
On top of those virus woes, Patrik Schick of Leverkusen has missed this international camp through injury. But the Czechs still have Burnley hitman Matej Vydra, who hit the winner against the Israelis, while the West Ham pair Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek also featured in that triumph.
Stat of the match: Scotland have won both of their last two international meetings with Czech Republic, winning 1-0 in a friendly in March 2016 and 2-1 in this year’s UEFA Nations League in September.
Norway vs Northern Ireland – Live on Sky Sports Mix, kick-off 7.45pm
Team news – Norway: Stefan Johansen sustained a knock against Serbia and missed the win over Romania while reserve goalkeeper Orjan Nyland is also carrying an injury. Joshua King will be pushing for a recall after coming on as a second-half substitute in that most recent out, possibly at the expense of Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Team news – Northern Ireland: Defeat to Austria meant a sixth in seven outings in the Nations League, so Ian Baraclough could look to make changes to his team. Baraclough has no reported injury or suspension concerns, though he may be tempted to rotate his side.
Gavin Whyte, Jordan Jones and Kyle Lafferty started against Austria, but all three of those could make way in Oslo. Conor Washington is expected to lead the line despite his record of four goals in 23 international appearances.
Stat of the match: Northern Ireland have lost seven of their last eight meetings with Norway, winning the other 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in March 2017.
Bulgaria vs Wales – Live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 7.45pm
Team news – Bulgaria: Georgi Dermendzhiev’s side have lost back-to-back Nations League games without scoring, so changes could be afoot. The hosts made eight alterations going into the Finland game off the back of their Euro 2020 qualifying play-off defeat to Hungary. After being brought on in the second half against the Finns, Dimitar Velkovski and Bozhidar Kraev are in contention to come into the starting line-up.
Team news – Wales: Aaron Ramsey withdrew from the Wales squad just before the team left for Bulgaria. Juventus playmaker Ramsey captained Giggs’ side in the 0-0 draw against Ireland, but the Football Association of Wales confirmed he has since picked up an injury.
Wales have lost four other players from their original 27-man squad and are short of forward options with David Brooks, Kieffer Moore and Hal Robson-Kanu dropping out alongside suspended midfielder Joe Morrell.
Wales have been boosted by Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham declaring himself fit for the Bulgaria game. Mepham missed Sunday’s 0-0 Nations League draw with the Republic of Ireland after picking up a knee injury in a Wembley friendly against England last week.
Stat of the match: Wales have won both of their last two meetings with Bulgaria; before this, they had only won two of their first seven international encounters (D1 L4).
Finland vs Republic of Ireland – Live on Sky Sports Main Event, kick-off 5pm
Team news – Finland: Fredrik Jensen is in contention to return to the Finland starting line-up after scoring from the bench versus Bulgaria. Teemu Pukki, with 25 goals in 83 internationals, is set to lead the line with head coach Markku Kanerva unlikely to make too many changes for this second competitive fixture in the space of three days.
Team news – Republic of Ireland: An unnamed player has withdrawn from the squad after testing positive for coronavirus, the Football Association of Ireland has announced. John Egan, Callum Robinson, Callum O’Dowda and Alan Browne all missed Sunday’s goalless draw against Wales as close contacts of another unnamed player who tested positive and have all since returned to their respective clubs.
Republic of Ireland
Aaron Connolly has joined Adam Idah in returning to the squad after missing the last two games because of a coronavirus issue. Connolly is a replacement for James McClean who is suspended for the game in Helsinki after his late red card against Wales.
Stat of the match: This will be the Republic of Ireland’s second away game against Finland, and first since a friendly in August 2002, which Ireland won 3-0.
Other matches on Sky
All other Nations League games on Wednesday will be available on Sky Sports Football, via the red button or the Sky Sports app:
- Lithuania vs Albania (kick-off 5pm)
- Iceland vs Belgium (kick-off 7.45pm)
- Poland vs Bosnia & Herzegovina (7.45pm)
- Romania vs Austria (7.45pm)
- Russia vs Hungary (7.45pm)
- Slovakia vs Israel (7.45pm)
- Turkey vs Serbia (7.45pm)
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