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Who are the top teams competing in Group A?

Have a look at who will be competing in the top group of the UEFA Nations League.

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Group A1

The Netherlands have failed to reach the last two major tournaments and are still a team in transition under Ronald Koeman. They’ve been handed the most daunting of tasks as they’ll have to overcome the newly crowned World Champions, as well as the team Les Bleus took the trophy from.

Germany are much better than their performances in Russia suggest, while having done so poorly this summer will be rejuvenated by the influx of younger players that won the Confederations Cup to replace one or two past their best in the national team shirt.

However, over just a few games anything can happen, meaning at least one of the pre-tournament favourites, France or Germany, will have to miss out on the tournament showpiece, leaving better value elsewhere in the outright betting.

Germany to win Group A1 at 2.10*

Group A2

Belgium are just 1.35 to finish top of Group 2 having been handed by far the easiest draw in League A with Switzerland and Iceland the weakest of all potential opposition.

Indeed, the seeding for the groups was based upon UEFA’s coefficient ranking from 2017, with Switzerland playing the system as they primarily avoided friendlies to artificially boost their rating.

Meanwhile, though Iceland have improved immeasurably in recent times, they’re absolute minnows compared with their League A rivals. In fact, they’re still riding off the back of their Euro 2016 exploits, as well as a successful World Cup qualification campaign that saw them avoid any of the big guns.

The first game to take place in this group is Switzerland v Iceland – click here for the latest odds

Group A3 

This is probably the most even of the League A groups. Euro 2016 winners Portugal demonstrated with that triumph their ability to grind out results, while they’ll know an unbeaten run involving a win or two along the way could well be enough to propel them to the tournament finals.

They only actually triumphed in one of their seven matches at Euro 2016 over 90 minutes but were never beaten, and their experience sets them apart from the Italians as they look a great price to win the group.

The failure to reach Russia was virtually a national crisis as far as the Italians were concerned and that coupled with their typically cautious identity should see the main aim for this side as avoiding further embarrassment.

Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile are hardly unknown quantities in attack, though the dearth in young talent coming through has left Roberto Mancini feeling it was necessary to call up Chelsea’s Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri – despite neither having played a single minute this campaign.

Italy will be looking to the likes of Mario Balotelli to avoid further embarrassment.

With 19 of the 31 players in Mancini’s squad holding 10 caps or fewer, that lack of know-how and game management should come back to hurt them – particularly in midfield where games at this level are often won or lost.

Poland were expected to compete in a three-way tussle for the knockout rounds in Group H over the summer, but a disastrous World Cup where they finished rock bottom behind Colombia, Japan and Senegal hardly inspires confidence in this team.

Portugal to Win Group A3 at 2.50*

Group A4

Spain start as the tournament favourites but while it’s difficult to read too much into their World Cup failure with disruption in the hot seat just prior to the event, this remains a team in flux.

National team stalwarts Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Gerard Pique all retired from international duty over the summer and leave big shoes to fill, while they’ll also be without the tenacious Diego Costa for their first game with England.

Luis Enrique still has plenty of quality at his disposal however, even seeing fit to drop Jordi Alba from his first squad, but at the shortest price without the luxury of an easy run we’re happy to steer clear of La Roja.

Though England are still a work in progress, a lot of groundwork has been carried out by Gareth Southgate since his appointment and the Three Lions appear settled at least in terms of shape and identity.

Despite a disappointing loss to Croatia, England reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup was a huge achievement.

There’s reasonably stiff competition for places too, while this young team should only improve the more they play together. However, a pair of World Cup defeats versus Belgium in the group stages and in the 3rd/4th play-offs suggest they still have a way to go against top level opponents.

Croatia could only finish 2nd behind Iceland in qualifying for Russia, but this is a team with high-end quality in key places and are better equipped for a short burst over a few games than an entire qualification campaign.

They benefited in Russia from facing an ageing Argentina well below their best in the group stages, as well as the kindest draw you could hope for en route to a World Cup final.

However, they were emphatically outclassed by top level opposition in the final by France and with England likely to take strides forward while they may go backward, Zlatko Dalic’s outfit are up against it in the battle to maintain their current League A standing.

England to win Group A4 at 3.25*

Conclusion

Belgium’s easy run to the finals next June make them a highly attractive proposition in the outright betting, especially given the way they’ve steamrolled the weaker teams in qualifiers.

Looking at the Red Devils’ record against teams we have ranked between 11th and 40thin the world (i.e ignoring the elite outfits and the minnows), they’ve won nine of 10 unbeaten games during this 26-game run. They scored at least three times in over half these and that leaves the spearhead of this attack, Romelu Lukaku, with a fantastic chance of being top scorer.

Further, this is a squad with a perfect blend of youth and experience, with key players hovering in that crucial 25-30 age bracket. Kevin De Bruyne is set to return in November and Belgium will be stronger than they are at present in the absence of such a key cog. He’ll also have plenty of time to regain his match sharpness before next June and that’s when it will really matter for Roberto Martinez’s side.

Belgium to Win UEFA Nations League at 6.0*

*all odds are subject to change

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