After successfully laying Germany against Austria at [1.54] recently, Kevin Hatchard now believes the world champions will have a far easier evening against Saudi Arabia...
"Germany scored in the first 20 minutes of every single World Cup qualifier, and they should take command of this game in the opening stages."
World champions to make a fast start
Germany v Saudi Arabia
Friday 08 June, 18:30
Live on BT Sport 1
Given that Germany, Spain and Brazil are going into the World Cup with incredibly strong squads, it'll always be a good story if it's perceived that a leading nation is struggling or in some sort of mini-crisis before the tournament begins. Germany's 2-1 defeat to Austria in Klagenfurt extended their winless run to five matches, but anyone who has followed the fortunes of Die Mannschaft for any length of time since Joachim Loew took charge knows that he doesn't really worry about results in friendlies. As long as he can tinker tactically, and assess the players he isn't quite sure about, he'll be happy.
Of course, one high-profile player he isn't sure about is Manchester City forward Leroy Sane. Despite being part of a City team that racked up 100 points on its way to Premier League glory, Sane was cut from the provisional squad. While that decision has caused wailing and gnashing of teeth in England, the reaction in Germany was more muted. Sane wasn't in line to start for Germany, and Loew was concerned about his potential demeanour if he was forced to accept a bit-part role. With Loew recently signing a new deal until 2022, the feeling is that Jogi knows best.
Germany should comfortably end their winless run against a very limited Saudi Arabia side. The Saudis' record in recent friendlies has been mixed - they beat Algeria and Greece, but were smacked 4-0 by Belgium, lost 2-1 to Italy and went down 3-0 against Peru.
I'm intrigued by the fact that Saudi Arabia are making slow starts to games. In their last three defeats, they have fallen behind inside 21 minutes, and Germany will punish them if they are slow out of the traps again. If you look at Germany's ten World Cup qualifiers, you see they scored at least once in the first twenty minutes of every single game. I don't think therefore that it's beyond the realms of possibility that Germany could be a couple of goals up by half time. I'll happily back them -1 on the First Half Handicap on the Sportsbook at 6/4.
Poland to pick up another morale-boosting win
Poland v Chile
Friday June 08, 19:45
Live on Betfair Live Video
I was very impressed by Poland at Euro 2016, and I can't help feeling they are a side that is flying under the radar ahead of the World Cup. The team has a strong spine, with several excellent goalkeeping options, a dominant centre-back in Kamil Glik, a midfield destroyer in Grzegorz Krychowiak and a world-class striker in Robert Lewandowski. The Poles qualified with room to spare from a group that wasn't exactly straightforward, and they deserve respect.
Chile have fallen from grace in a big way after winning two Copa America titles in quick succession. Their failure to qualify for the World Cup was disastrous, and coach Reinaldo Rueda is looking for the magic formula. Neither Alexis Sanchez nor Arturo Vidal will feature here, while leaves the team somewhat short of star power.
Poland beat South Korea in their last friendly, and I believe that at [1.95], they are generously priced to win in Poznan on Friday night.
Swiss to draw strength from Spain draw
Switzerland v Japan
Friday June 08, 18:00
Switzerland are always a solid outfit, packed with experienced and technically competent players. Xherdan Shaqiri adds a dash of much-needed flair and unpredictability, and Vladimir Petkovic has proven himself to be a fine coach. A 1-1 draw with Spain at the Estadio Ceramica in Villarreal was an excellent result against one of the favourites to win the World Cup.
Switzerland have looked good in recent friendlies, including a 6-0 demolition of Panama, and I expect them to beat Japan, who are scrambling to find form after their ill-timed separation from coach Vahid Halihodzic. They have lost their last two friendlies against Ukraine and Ghana, and haven't won a match since mid-December.
Switzerland are trading at [1.79] for the win, and I think that's a decent price, as the Swiss are in far better shape.