When Germany take on France in Munich’s Allianz Arena on Thursday evening, it will be a landmark event in the history of European football. Okay, that’s probably going a bit far, but it is the first ever match in UEFA’s new Nations League competition.
It has been created to enable countries to play competitive games rather than meaningless friendlies. The countries have been divided into sections, and the winners of the four League A groups will play-off next summer to determine who wins the tournament.
Germany and France are in League A Group 1, alongside Netherlands. How seriously this will all be taken remains to be seen, but any match between these two neighbours is usually fiercely competitive.
Joachim Low’s side will have a point to prove too, as this is the first match for both nations since their wildly contrasting summers. While France won the World Cup, Germany were the highest profile fallers at the group stage hurdle. The bookmakers expect the Germans to bounce back with a win here, as Karamba price them at 31/20 while Didier Deschamps’ side are 37/20, with the draw available at 12/5.
I think they’ll win too, as their underlying statistics in Russia were far better than their actual results. Brazil were the only team who had a better expected goals difference per game average than Germany, and based on their chances the holders should’ve scored six goals rather than two. With better finishing they’d have cruised through their group, and I think they’ll prevail in Munich this week. But it will probably be a close game, as the odds imply.
Matches between these two tend to be tight too, with only two of the last six meetings being settled by more than one goal. Both teams have scored in just one of the four clashes over the past four years, so is a ‘no’ bet the way to go in this market?
The bookmakers don’t appear to think so. BetHard has ‘yes’ priced at 10/13 with ‘no’ at 21/20. One of the main reasons that international football is so hard to predict is that countries don’t play very often and face teams of wildly different standards when they do. That’s vital to bear in mind when betting on such matches.
For instance, both teams have scored in only two of France’s last six matches, but they have in the last year when Les Bleus have faced the likes of Germany, Colombia, Italy, Argentina and Croatia. In other words, France tend to concede when playing the better sides, so for that reason I think we should go ‘yes’ in the both teams to score market. If you need another reason, Germany are on a run of eight games without a clean sheet, and usually score at home.
That’s a big part of why I think there will be over 2.5 goals in this match. That’s despite the last meeting ending in a 2-2 draw but the three previous matches seeing fewer than three goals. As with both teams to score, France’s meetings with top nations have usually paid out on over 2.5 goals too, and all three of Germany’s World Cup matches had enough chances to as well.
The bookies don’t agree with me – 888Sport have over 2.5 goals available at evens, while under is priced at 4/5 – but I’m expecting to see at least three goals in this match. So who’s going to get them? Leroy Sané has returned to the German squad following his surprising World Cup omission, but as he has only played 30 minutes for Manchester City this season, it’s hard to make a case for him hitting form here.
It’s important to wait for team news, but while Timo Werner is the 5/1 favourite to score first with William Hill, he hasn’t scored yet this season and had a disappointing World Cup. Marco Reus is 13/2 to score first with Hills, or 11/5 to net at any time. The Dortmund man is off the mark for 2018/19, and scored Germany’s only open play goal in Russia, so if he’s in Low’s starting XI he’s worth bearing in mind.
Didier Deschamps has made just one amendment to his World Cup squad for this game, and as it’s a goalkeeper (Benoît Costil), we can select one of the big guns in the scorer market. Antoine Griezmann is the favourite, but as he has one league goal this season while Kylian Mbappé has four, I’m more inclined to back the young superstar. Mbappé is priced at 2/1 to score at any time with Paddy Power, or they offer 6/1 that he nets the opener.