We kick-off this international extravaganza with a tasty 5/1 four-fold!
Macedonia v Latvia – 19:45
We start with the glamour tie: Macedonia v Latvia.
With both sides competing in League D of the recently-completed Nations League group stages, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a close one to call.
However, while Latvia were winless in their six matches, finishing joint-bottom with Andorra, Macedonia romped to promotion, and I don’t think they’ll have too many issues against this poor Latvian outfit.
FYR Macedonia v Latvia
Northern Ireland v Estonia – 19:45
Next up, I’m expecting Northern Ireland to secure a home win against Estonia.
While Michael O’Neill’s men were relegated from an incredibly tough Nations League group containing Bosnia and Austria – and even then, their performances were far from a disgrace – Estonia were relegated into League D, leaving me in little doubt as to where the points will be heading on Thursday.
Estonia lost to-nil away at Finland and Hungary, and I’m expecting a similar story here.
Northern Ireland v Estonia
Croatia v Azerbaijan – 19:45
Croatia emphatically crashed out of the Nations League top-tier with a crushing defeat to England at Wembley, but I expect them to roar back into business against the might of Azerbaijan – with a -2 handicap.
23/20 looks generous, especially considering the visitors lost 4-0 against Kosovo back in November. The gulf in class is stark, and Croatia will want a big win to kick-off their qualification campaign.
Croatia v Azerbaijan [Handicaps]
Netherlands v Belarus – 19:45
Last but not least, I’m expecting The Netherlands to beat Belarus with a -1 handicap.
Despite failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments, the Dutch have significantly improved under Ronald Koeman, and topping a Nations League group containing France and Germany suggests there’s no letting up.
I see Belarus as a slightly more credible opponent that Azerbaijan will be for Croatia; the away side topped (an admittedly terrible) Nations League group containing Luxembourg, Moldova and San Marino without conceding, so I’m playing it safe with the -1 here.
Netherlands v Belarus [Handicaps]