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Euro 2020 Qualifiers: Five things to look out for across the next three days

Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez is in charge of a highly talented Belgium side.
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Two Everton team-mates do battle in Iceland while it could be a nervy night for the Netherlands - Jamie Pacheco identifies five things to look out for in the upcoming internationals.

"Netherlands do admittedly have a game in hand over Northern Ireland but if they don’t beat the Irish on Thursday night, they really will be under pressure. And they don’t have the safety net of a guaranteed Play-Off place courtesy of the Nations League to rely on."

Are Belgium running out of time?

Sooner or later we have to stop talking about Belgium as 'dark horses'. They were tipped by plenty to win Euro 2016 before being sucker-punched by Wales in the quarters and highly fancied ahead of the 2018 World Cup, though this time there was no disgrace in losing to eventual winners France.

With the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne now reaching their peak in terms of age, Euro 2020 may be the last time this group of talented individuals playing at the top European clubs have a chance to actually go on and win a major tournament together. They're the [8.2] third favourites on the Exchange for Euro 2020 glory.

Currently on 18 points after winning all six of their matches so far, qualification looks a mere formality.

As it happens, Hazard and keeper Thibaut Courtois are having a hard time of things at Real Madrid while playmaker de Bruyne is injured but none of that should matter when they host San Marino on Thursday night.

After all, their last two meetings with them ended 4-0 and 8-0.

If you think Roberto Martinez's men might just take their step off the gas in this one, it's 5/2 that there are less than 5.5 goals in the game.

Felix in search of his first international goal

Fancy that. You're the fourth most expensive player in history and the second most expensive teenager ever and you're yet to score an international goal.

To be fair, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix has only played for his country three times but he'll be keen to get the monkey off his back as soon as possible.

And he'll have few better opportunities to do so than on Friday night against Luxembourg. As ever, Portugal started qualifying slowly and have got better as the campaign has gone on.

Felix should start this one alongside or just behind Cristiano Ronaldo and is 8/15 to score and 12/5 to get two or more.

Ronaldo Portugal 2018.jpg

Pukki to the rescue?

Felix isn't the only one who could do with a goal this week. After being the first Premier League Player of the Month this season with six goals from his first five matches, Teemu Pukki has gone off the boil, failing to score in his last three, a run which has coincided with three straight defeats for the Canaries.

This week he's on international duty for Finland and will be up against Bosnia, a huge match given the Finns are currently second on 12 points. Avoiding defeat would pretty much make it a shoot-out between them and Armenia (nine points) for second spot behind Italy but if they were to lose it, Edin Dzeko's Bosnia would be right back in it. It's 11/10 on the Bosnians to win, 2/1 the draw and 14/5 the Finland win.

Pukki, who scored Finland's last two goals in a 1-0 win and a 2-1 defeat to Italy, is 11/5 to score anytime.

Nervous night for the Netherlands

The Netherlands, who boast a fine side including Ballon D'Or winner Virgil van Dijk, Ajax star Donny van de Beek and Barcelona man Luuk de Jong, are the [8.6] fourth-favourites to win Euro 2020.

Virgil Van Dijk 1280.jpg

But they're not guaranteed to even be there. That's because Northern Ireland have started so brilliantly with four wins and just the one loss (to Germany) and are top of the Group with the same 12 points, thanks to a superior goal difference.

Netherlands do admittedly have a game in hand over Northern Ireland but if they don't beat the Irish on Thursday night, they really will be under pressure. And they don't have the safety net of a guaranteed Play-Off place courtesy of the Nations League to rely on.

It's 9/2 on Northern Ireland or Draw on the Double Chance market and 29/20 on both teams scoring.

Sigurdsson and Digne best of enemies

Everton team-mates Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lucas Digne will be up against each other when Iceland host France. It's been a tough time for Everton of late and they'll be glad to have the distraction of international football with the Toffees now having lost their last four in a row.

Iceland trail France (and Turkey) by three points with the top two on 15 and Iceland on 12.

It certainly won't be easy for Sigurdsson and co but the best bet might be to go with a high goal count. The last five matches between these two went over 3.5 goals, as did four of France's six qualifiers so far.

It's 9/4 we get at least four goals once again.

Jamie Pacheco,

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