World Cup Warm-Ups: Germany to slip up as they experiment
There are plenty of World Cup warm-ups to catch the eye on Saturday, and Kevin Hatchard has three selections...
"Austria have won six games in a row, while Germany prioritise performances and experimentation over results in friendlies."
Austria v Germany
Saturday 02 June, 17:00
Live on BT Sport 2
Austria can pose Germany a few problems
Germany are in good shape ahead of their World Cup title defence. They won all ten of their qualifiers, they have few injury worries, and coach Joachim Loew has a deep squad to select from. Skipper Manuel Neuer is fit after missing most of the season with a foot injury, and is expected to start this friendly against neighbours Austria in Klagenfurt.
One of the things that's always worth bearing in mind with Germany and friendlies is that Loew isn't that bothered about results, as long as he gets good performances and is able to try a few things out. That's been the case for a long time under his guidance - Germany haven't won any of their last five friendlies, and if you go back to their preparations for EURO 2016, they lost to Slovakia and England.
Austria may be able to take advantage of this performance-led attitude to non-competitive games. They are on a roll right now - their recent 1-0 win against World Cup hosts Russia was their sixth victory in a row. There is pace and guile out wide in the shape of Bundesliga-based duo Alessandro Schopf and Florian Kainz, and centre-forward Marko Arnautovic is full of confidence after a fine personal campaign at West Ham.
Germany are [1.54] to win this, and that seems too short given Germany's record in pre-tournament warm-ups.
Sweden v Denmark
Saturday 02 June, 18:45
Scandinavian derby won't get the pulse racing
Sweden and Denmark have done superbly to get to the World Cup finals via the playoffs, and they are right to be excited about taking their places in Russia. However, there may not be much excitement at the Friends Arena on Saturday evening.
Sweden are by nature a conservative team that doesn't take many risks. Coach Janne Andersson prioritises hard work and organisation over individual flair, which explains why he ran a mile when Zlatan Ibrahimovic started making noises about returning to the fold. It's therefore no surprise to see that only one of their last seven matches has seen both teams score.
Denmark have a bit more attacking prowess, especially with outstanding Spurs star Christian Eriksen in their ranks. However, four of their last six outings have seen a "No" bet land in the Both Teams To Score market, and the Danes have kept a clean sheet in their last two friendlies.
This is something of a derby, which may add an extra edge, but goals are likely to be in short supply.
Belgium v Portugal
Saturday 02 June, 19:45
Big hitters to serve up a cracker
With Belgium hoping to finally make best use of their "Golden Generation", and Portugal hoping to build on their success at EURO 2016, this is a mouth-watering battle between two strong sides.
Although Portugal built their success in France two years ago on being incredibly miserly defensively, recent games haven't really followed that template. They blew a two-goal lead in a recent 2-2 draw with Tunisia, they were smacked 3-0 by the Netherlands in March, and a last-gasp double from Cristiano Ronaldo snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a 2-1 win over Egypt. Four of their last five outings have featured three goals or more.
Belgium have a plethora of attacking options, and there is cause to believe they'll contribute to a thriller too. Roberto Martinez' team has scored 17 goals in the last six games, and in five of their last seven contests they have scored three goals or more.
Belgium haven't drawn a blank since September 2016, while Portugal have sprung a few leaks recently, but have plenty of talent in attack. I fancy goals here.