Charlie Nicholas makes his predictions for the upcoming round of international fixtures, with all the home nations playing European 2020 Qualifiers.
Netherlands vs Northern Ireland – Thursday, 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event
I think Northern Ireland have been punching above their weight for a while. Steven Davis has held it together for a long time. It is a team that is together but one that does not have a lot of flare.
The youngsters are coming through for the Netherlands, while Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Ryan Babel have shone. We know all about Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt at the heart of the Dutch defence. It will be a comfortable night for the hosts. Northern Ireland don’t normally lose many goals but I think they will be put to the sword here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 4-0 (17/2 with Sky Bet)
Russia vs Scotland – Thursday, 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football
Where do we start here? On a positive note, I think Scotland are going to play the way I want them to play. They have to build for the play-offs in February – that is their last throw of the dice.
Russia embarrassed them in Glasgow in the last international break. Everything Steve Clarke is trying to do I will accept. It will be well-drilled defensively and a soft counter-attack. It is the situation that both teams are in, but Russia are very average. They have not secured second place but I think they will be there or thereabouts after this.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Slovakia vs Wales – Thursday, 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
This is a good test for Wales. If there is any chance of Aaron Ramsey playing then he should. Wales rely on Gareth Bale but Daniel James has come in and done well. Slovakia are hard to predict and you can get at them. Wales are more patient under Ryan Giggs. Their counter-attack on and off the ball is strong. The importance of Bale playing is key, but this looks promising for Wales.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Czech Republic vs England – Friday, 7.45pm
These are the top two from Group A and it is a game Czech Republic will have to chase. Harry Kane is out of form with Tottenham’s struggles, while the inclusion of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham at Chelsea bolsters the squad. Gareth Southgate may not start them and it could be a more experienced side with Raheem Sterling, Kane and Jadon Sancho up front. There will be a slight edge to it, but England’s centre-backs could be where the issue lies. What will the pairing be? John Stones is injured and Harry Maguire isn’t in the best form, so this may be a worry.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Iceland vs France – Friday, 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football
Iceland are good, but they have been fighting above their weight for a while, so I am fancying France to walk away with the win here. France have too much strength, and Antoine Griezmann, although not quite firing for Barcelona yet, will play his part in a France win in this one.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 0-2 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Georgia vs Republic of Ireland – Saturday, 2pm, live on Sky Sports Football
This is another tough match for the Republic of Ireland. Mick McCarthy has managed to get some decent results, but they lack goals – they have only scored over one goal in one of their five qualifiers. That being said, they have only conceded two in that time, which is impressive. Richard Keogh is out, so who will partner Shane Duffy at the back? McCarthy gets 100 per cent from his players all the time, but these are always dangerous fixtures.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (14/1 with Sky Bet)
Italy vs Greece – Saturday, 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Italy are on the rise. Greece do not show you anything – you do not hear anything about their performances, so they have a lot of work to do to regain their once decent reputation. The youngsters are blending in with experience at Italy and they could become a force again.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-0 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Norway vs Spain – Saturday, 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football
Norway are always a tough act, but Spain have talent across the park. Paco Alcacer is having a good season at Borussia Dortmund, but Rodrigo is doing the same, yet they refrain from playing them together up front and opt for a front three instead. It will be another passing masterclass by the Spanish though, I can’t see past an away win.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 0-2 (11/2 with Sky Bet)
European Qualifiers on Sky Sports
Kazakhstan vs Cyprus – Thursday October 10, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 3pmBelarus vs Estonia – Thursday October 10, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 5pmNetherlands vs Northern Ireland – Thursday October 10, live on Sky Sports Main Event; Kick-off 7.45pmRussia vs Scotland – Thursday October 10, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 7.45pmSlovakia vs Wales – Thursday October 10, live on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 7.45pmBelgium vs San Marino – Thursday October 10, live on Sky Sports Football – red button; Kick-off 7.45pmFour other games on red button on Friday – full schedule here
Iceland vs France – Friday October 11, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 7.45pmPortugal vs Luxembourg – Friday October 11, live on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 7.45pmFour other games on red button on Friday – full schedule here
Georgia vs Republic of Ireland – Saturday October 12, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event; Kick-off 2pmDenmark vs Switzerland – Saturday October 12, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 5pmItaly vs Greece – Saturday October 12, live on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 7.45pmNorway vs Spain – Saturday October 12, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 7.45pmThree other games on red button on Friday – full schedule here