International Friendly: Korea Face Stiff South American Test In Seoul

Korea Republic vs Colombia

After their disappointing quarter-final exit in this year’s Asian Cup, Korea Republic got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory in their most recent international friendly against Bolivia. The Taeguk Warriors needed an 86th-minute winner from substitute Lee Chung-Yong to triumph over La Verde in front of their home crowd.

The Koreans now have a much tougher test coming up as they face off against another South American side in Colombia. Los Cafeteros are coming off an encouraging 1-0 win over Japan in Yokohama thanks to a Radamel Falcao penalty in Carlos Quieroz’s first match as Colombia manager.

Another victory over a major Asian power would be quite the achievement for Quieroz, who took over in February following Jose Pekerman’s departure after the World Cup. But as the international friendly 2019 betting odds bear out, that will be easier said than done, especially in Seoul.

Talking Points

Korea must cope with Son struggling

Korea Republic took an important step toward putting their unfortunate Asian Cup run behind them with a 1-0 win over Bolivia in Ulsan. Although they only got their goal in the 86th minute, they did have 70 percent of possession and created 21 shots.

Somewhat worryingly, though, the Koreans were only able to get four of those 21 shots on target. Star forward Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur was responsible for wasting a number of those opportunities for the Taeguk Warriors.

After going on a strong goal-scoring run following his return from the Asian Cup, Son has been on a bit of a slump of late. He has now gone scoreless in each of his last six appearances in all competitions for club and country. That’s not a promising sign, especially given the team’s reliance on the Spurs star to spearhead their attack.

It’s hard to see the Koreans once again dominating the ball as much against Colombia as they did against Bolivia. That’s why it’s all the more important for Son and his supporting cast to make the most of their chances against the Colombians, who have the attacking talent that can do some serious damage.

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Carlos Quieroz’s Colombia look to build momentum

Carlos Quieroz couldn’t have asked for a better start to his stint as Colombia manager as his side got a 1-0 win over Asian giants Japan in his debut match. After a rocky first 45 minutes, the Colombians looked much more comfortable in Quieroz’s system in the second half as they eventually stamped their class over the hosts.

Colombia got the decisive goal after a Takehiro Tomiyasu handball gave star striker Falcao the opportunity to dispatch from the penalty spot. They put the ball in the net two more times in the second half, but Falcao was called for handball while Luis Muriel was flagged for offside.

The Colombians are now unbeaten in their last five matches (four wins and a draw) since their crushing defeat to England on penalties in the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup.

Quieroz fielded a star-studded side against Japan as the likes of Falcao, James Rodriguez, Muriel, and Davinson Sanchez all featured in the win. James’ club future for next season remains in doubt, but the talented playmaker figures to remain an integral part of the Colombia setup under Quieroz.

After a positive opening match, Quieroz will definitely be eager to boost  Colombia’s international friendly 2019 results under his guidance in Seoul.

International Friendly: After winning against Japan 1-0, Colombia head to Seoul to face Korea Republic

Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez in action for Colombia against Japan

History

Colombia and Korea Republic have not crossed paths often in international play. In fact, they’ve faced off just six times overall — all friendlies — with the Koreans winning three of the six matchups. Colombia have won just once, with two draws.

The Koreans came up on top in their most recent meeting in 2017. Son Heung-min scored twice to give Korea Republic a 2-1 win on home soil. The Koreans will certainly be hoping Son can overcome his recent struggles and recreate that sort of magic once again in Seoul.

Betting Tip

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Korea Republic vs Colombia Colombia Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.06
March 26, 19:00 (GMT+8)

us odds have Korea installed as slight underdogs at home against Colombia, which shouldn’t be that surprising. The Colombians, currently ranked No. 15 in the world, have tremendous world-class attacking players with the likes of James, Falcao, and Muriel, who are all capable of unlocking any opponent’s defence.

Meanwhile, Son’s poor form in front of goal is obviously a concern given that he’s the Taeguk Warriors’ most consistent source of goals. If he’s still not firing, it will be tough to see the Koreans covering the handicap.

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Clough cools play-off hopes

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough doubts whether his side can sneak into the League One play-offs even after their 5-2 win over Accrington Stanley.

The Brewers trailed 2-0 in the first half but Scott Fraser halved the deficit before the break and Clough's side scored four goals in the second half.

The result leaves Burton, who reached the League Cup semi-finals earlier in the campaign and were relegated from the Championship last term, five points off a play-off spot. They are 100/1 to be promoted this season.

Clough said after his team's superb comeback victory: "I thought we played well in the first 35 minutes and didn't deserve to be 2-0 down – the reason we were was two mistakes.

"The goal we scored just before half time was then massively important but we had 10 to 12 moves like that and hadn't got a shot off. In the second half we finished them off, that was the difference.

"It might just be a bit too late [to get into the play-offs]. But we will try and win as many games as we can and see where that takes us.

"We really should be in the high 50s in terms of points at this stage but we'll keep going and four out of the last seven are against top-six sides so there is a lot to look forward to."

Mancini has faith in Immobile

Italy coach Roberto Mancini has backed Ciro Immobile to end his goal drought after the Lazio striker failed to score in Saturday's 2-0 victory against Finland.

Immobile has failed to score in his last 10 appearances for his country although he did set up a goal for impressive teenager Moise Kean in the Euro 2020 Group J qualifier.

Nicolo Barella was also on target as Italy got their qualification campaign off to a victorious start at the Friuli Stadium in Udine.

Former Manchester City and Inter Milan boss Mancini said: "Kean has quality, enormous potential and it all depends on him. There's plenty of quality among our young players. It's not difficult to understand that.

"It wasn't easy, as Finland clammed up straight away with five defenders, so it was difficult to break them down.

"It wasn't easy for Immobile, as he always had five or six players surrounding him. If anything, we should have spread the play better to create spaces."

Meanwhile, Finland coach Markku Kanerva was not overly impressed with the Azzurri saying: "Italy are certainly the strongest team in the group but Greece and Bosnia can also have a say.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed with the result. It's a pity, especially for the first goal, because it came through a deflection."

Italy are 6/1 to beat Liechtenstein 3-0 in their next qualifier on Tuesday while they can be backed at 16/1 to win Euro 2020 outright.

Spain’s attitude pleases Enrique

Luis Enrique thought Spain should have beaten Norway far more convincingly in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier.

The Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 winners needed a Sergio Ramos penalty to clinch a 2-1 victory in Valencia but Enrique believed his side could easily have scored four more goals.

It looked set to be a routine win for Spain when Rodrigo Moreno gave them a 16th-minute lead but Norway equalised in the 65th minute when Bournemouth striker Josh King scored from the spot after Inigo Martinez had brought Bjorn Johnsen down.

However, Spain were handed the chance to score a penalty of their own six minutes later when Alvaro Morata was tripped by Norway goalkeeper Rune Jarstein.

Spain are 15/4 to beat Malta 3-0 on Tuesday while they are available at 5/1 to win Euro 2020 outright.

Enrique said afterwards: "We have to appreciate all the positive things we did. I think we deserved to win 5-1 or 6-1, but in football goals are the only thing that matters.

"I am happy with everything, the attitude, the way we played after training hard all week and for creating chances against a team who defended in their own half. It was a shame we conceded the penalty but we found a solution and we realised that if you want to win you have to suffer."

McCarthy demands big improvement

Mick McCarthy thinks Georgia will be confident of beating a Republic of Ireland side that laboured to a 1-0 win against Gibraltar on Saturday.

A Jeff Hendrick goal proved decisive as Ireland at least made a winning start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at Victoria Stadium.

But Ireland created little else in a disappointing performance in what was McCarthy's first game in his second spell in charge.

"I pretty much hated every minute of that," he said afterwards.

"I knew what it would be like. We were never going to complain about the pitch. The wind was blowing a gale. We didn't play particularly well. We had chances, one or two in the first half. Darren Randolph was probably man of the match.

"I was asked earlier on about gaining momentum and I can only gain momentum by winning games. I would have taken 1-0. I wanted to score more and play better but we have three points."

McCarthy's team play Georgia, who lost 2-0 to Switzerland in their first qualifier, at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.

He added: "It is going to be a completely different game against a completely different team. Georgia lost and they will be looking to get some momentum against us. They will be watching that and think we are hopeless but we will play better than that."

Republic of Ireland are 1/2 to beat Georgia and 4/1 to win the match 1-0.

Euro 2020: Captain Ramos Puts Spain Ahead in Tight Contest

Spain 2-1 Norway

There was little to no doubt at the Estadio de Mestalla that Spain would start their Euro 2020 campaign on a high. They still have some of the most dominant players in world football, and they are eager to erase the bitter memories of their most recent international competitions.

The question that was ringing in the minds of La Roja fans was the margin of victory they would enjoy against Norway. The Løvene aren’t exactly the toughest opponents the Spaniards can face in their qualifying group, but they definitely have the players who can bring on the pain if they weren’t careful enough.

Valencia — and most of the Iberian peninsula, for that matter — got some nerves when their guests managed to pull one back against them. However, Sergio Ramos ensured that they are on track to produce fantastic Euro 2020 highlights next year with the winning goal five minutes later.

Everything is as expected in Spain, and the supporters can only hope that such strong performances continue until the end of the season.

Highlights of the game

Luis Enrique fielded a rather attack-oriented formation with the 4-3-3. Alvaro Morata, Marco Asensio, and Rodrigo were starting up front; Sergio Busquets was the central man in midfield, while Sergio Ramos and Davi de Gea were responsible for holding the backline without Gerard Pique. Meanwhile, Norway also had a couple of familiar names in their Starting XI in Joshua King and Martin Odegaard.

It didn’t take long for Valencia to witness their national team making some moves as Rune Jarstein was tested within the first ten minutes of the game. Alvaro Morata met a cross in the fifth minute to head it towards the goal. Unfortunately for him, the Hertha Berlin stopper got to the ball.

Rodrigo has made a huge contribution for hitting the opening goal for Spain in their Euro 2020 game against Norway

Spain’s Rodrigo in action against Norway’s Kristoffer Ajer during their Euro 2020 qualifying game at Mestalla Stadium

However, they didn’t have to wait long for the Spaniards to get ahead in the game as Rodrigo made his impact with the first goal on the 16th minute. Spain made some beautiful plays on the possession on the left-hand side, and Jordi Alba launched a cross to the middle. The Valencia striker fired a volley past Jarstein.

Norway had to pick themselves up after the quick goal, but it was hard to make an attack when Spain had the ball for most of the first half. Both Rodrigo and Morata had chances to double Spain’s lead, but the Norwegian defence did well in blocking the shot.

Markus Henriksen tried to put the game back on level terms in the 31st minute, but his effort just went straight to the waiting gloves of De Gea. Norway held their breath for a minute when Jordi Alba managed to score before half-time, but the linesman raised his flag and called the Barcelona man offside.

The second half began with an energised Norway eager to get back on track. The nation is on a footballing high as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is finding success with Manchester United, and the Løvene want to make the most of the attention the sport is getting.

Spain were still taking control of the match, but the tables quickly turned when Iñigo Martinez pulled his mark’s shirt inside the penalty area. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and up stepped Joshua King. The Bournemouth striker managed to beat the Man United stopper as he equalised for his country.

1X2 Tottenham Hotspur @ 5.80 Liverpool Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.04 Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.03CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League

The Mestalla was stunned with the goal, and an air of uncertainty slowly crept up in the stands. This hasn’t been the first time La Roja buckled in international competition, and their frustrating second-half collapse against England in the Nations League still stings to this day.

A draw wasn’t out of the cards before the match, and the possibility of it ending in a tie was weighing down on the fans.

However, everyone was ecstatic again when Jarstein ran off his line made a poor sliding challenge against Alvaro Morata just inside the box. Sergio Ramos stepped up to the spot for the penalty. He made Jarstein dive to the right as he scored the winning goal with a cheeky Panenka right down the middle of the goal.

It was a rather nervy start to their qualifying campaign, but fans are just thankful that the Euro 2020 betting odds that surround this qualifier was proven correct. They can now look forward to getting more wins and finishing top of their group.

Key statistics

Sergio Ramos has once again proven how important he is to Spanish supporters and seasoned us punters who backed La Roja. The fact that he scored in his last five national team appearances emphasises the extraordinary quality he brings to the national team offensively and defensively.

The way Spain dominated their guests also makes one question why the winning margin isn’t bigger. The Spaniards had 67% possession and made 26 goal attempts with ten on target. They had 25 free-kick attempts and nine corners. Jarstein was busy throughout the night as he had to make eight saves.

What’s next?

The Euro 2020 dream continues for these two nations as they look to move on from this match. However, they will be approaching their next match with differing mindsets.

Spain head coach Luis Enrique feels motivated to seal more victories following their Euro 2020 win over Norway

Spain manager Luis Enrique looks ahead during their Euro 2020 qualifier against Norway

Spain are obvious favourites against Malta and there should be no reason that they don’t take the victory against the 182nd-placed nation in the FIFA World rankings. Luis Enrique will work to make sure his lads don’t have any complacency ahead of this game.

Meanwhile, Lars Lagerback will have quite a task ahead of him as they play Sweden up next. The Blue-Yellows are also favoured to make it out of their qualifying group and compete in the main tournament. He must lead the Norwegians against his own countrymen in what will be a tough match.

 

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This Game could be Key in Final Euro 2020 Standings

Portugal vs Serbia

It’s early days in Euro 2020 qualifying but this match already has a look of one which could be very important in the final standings.

Serbia have just enjoyed an encouraging 1-1 friendly draw in Germany (not that a tackle late in the game was particularly friendly) and are showing signs of improvement after an uninspiring World Cup.

Meanwhile, the reigning European Champions Portugal will not want to drop more points after encountering frustration in their opening qualifier, being held by Ukraine.

us fans will know Cristiano Ronaldo and Co rarely fail to win twice at home in a row.

Talking Points

Certainly, Portugal know they are facing arguably the side considered their strongest opponents in the group.

Ronaldo will never be far from the Euro 2020 news of course, but he has a star-studded supporting cast, with some of the top players in the Portuguese league at FC Porto and Benfica, as well as big names from the Premier League and La Liga.

Bernardo Silva is having an impressive season at Manchester City and midfield powerhouse William Carvalho is enjoying a fine season at Real Betis.

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Meanwhile, in Wolves’ creative duo Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho who are making waves at club level, plus goalkeeper Rui Patricio, they have a real spark.

Despite their goalless draw against the Ukraine, in which Ronaldo featured for the national team for the first time since last summer’s World Cup in Russia, Portugal showed they remain a force.

Ukraine’s veteran goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov played a key part in frustrating the hosts, twice denying Ronaldo in the first half before pulling off an exceptional save from Andre Silva.

He then tipped over Pepe’s blistering effort and was relieved when an offside flag ruled out a William Carvalho header.

Fernando Santos’ side will meet opponents who have been hit hard by injuries.

Manchester United man Nemanja Matic has already withdrawn from the squad and has been joined on the sidelines by Ljubomir Fejsa with Aleksandsr Kolarov and Filip Kostic already out.

It could be that their trip to the Estadio da Luz may be one game too many for this squad.

History

Serbia will try to have a great start in their Euro 2020 campaign as they battle Portugal

Mladen Krstajic commanding Serbia in touchline

Serbia will be hoping to finally claim a win against Portugal at the fifth attempt.

Both meetings in 2007 – in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign – ended 1-1.

Tiago and Dejan Stankovic traded goals in Belgrade, while Simao and Branislav Ivanovic did the same in Lisbon.

When they next met in 2015 in qualifying for Euro 2016 – a tournament Portugal would go onto win – Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Coentrao secured a 2-1 Portugal success. Matic netted for Serbia.

Portugal also won the return fixture in Serbia by the same scoreline when Nani and Joao Moutinho scored the goals with Zoran Tosic replying for Serbia.

Betting Tip

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Spain vs Serbia Portugal Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.12
March 26, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Euro 2020 qualifying betting odds favour Portugal and that is no surprise.

However, it should be remembered both these sides can be difficult to beat and are unbeaten in their last six matches.

In Serbia coach, Mladen Krstajic, Serbia have a coach who, like Santos, went onto to oversee a promotion winning campaign in the UEFA Nations League.

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McLeish: We must move on

Alex McLeish says Scotland must quickly move on from the barrage of criticism after their defeat to Kazakhstan.

The Scots face San Marino on Sunday and McLeish is targeting a victory and a chance to put Thursday's game to one side.

Scotland's bid for automatic qualification for Euro 2020 got off to a humiliating start with defeat against the team ranked 117th in the world as they went down 3-0.

They have the safety net of knowing a playoff awaits no matter what happens in Group I, as a result of their Nations League success in the autumn.

Despite the immense disappointment of their opening game, McLeish is urging his players to quickly move on and put three points on the board.

"You can’t avoid it," he told Sky Sports. "I've been in the game a lot of years and you have to take the good with the bad.

"I've had a lot of success. When we have a reverse, and there's a bit of negativity, the best thing to get rid of that is to win the next game. And that is our plan."

Scotland are 7/1 to beat San Marino 5-0 on Sunday.

There will be reinforcements, with Andy Robertson, Callum Paterson and Ryan Fraser all set to come back into the team. That is something that gives McLeish optimism.

"We have to win," McLeish said. "We are confident about the outcome.

"I said that [we have to bounce back] before the Albania and Israel games [in that Nations League] and we went and did the business so yes, you have to go and prove it but I don't see any reason why we can't make it better in the second game."

San Marino are 40/1 for victory, while the draw is 22/1 as Scotland look to get their campaign up and running.

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Euro 2020: France Flair can Melt the Icemen

France vs Iceland

European football returns to the Stade de France on Monday with the match of the night, as Erik Hamren’s Iceland arrives to take on France.

Both teams won their opening fixture of Euro 2020 and Iceland has a liking for the big stage, having qualified for Euro 2016 and Russia 2018, stunning the likes of England and Argentina at the finals. But this is probably their biggest test so far.

Erik Hamren’s Iceland had a nice opener, away to Andorra, which they navigated comfortably, while the World Champions blew Moldova away with a first half three goal blitz.

The Icelandic thunderclap will reverberate around Paris, and it’s the hosts’ job to keep it quiet. It’s going to be quite a night!

Talking Points

France can get even better

Les Bleus won the World Cup in scintillating style and the early Euro 2020 betting odds suggest a repeat may be on in Europe’s big international competition. Didier Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, and in their opening fixture four different players scored as they dismantled Moldova.

Kylian Mbappe took Russia 2018 by storm and he was on target again in the opener. The young PSG star can only get better, but he needs to keep a lid on his attitude. With world class talent often comes arrogance, and he was one of the PSG players who thought they could strut to victory over Manchester United as the French giants crashed out of the Champions League. In Moldova he was the subject of close attention, and some nasty challenges, but he did take an embarrassing dive late on, against a team which was dead and buried. There’s no doubt he’ll be a big feature in the Euro 2020 highlights package.

Antoine Griezmann is France’s highest ranked player, sitting seventh in UEFA’s latest list, which is topped by Spain’s Sergio Ramos. Griezmann bagged the best goal of the night against Moldova, getting on the end of a brilliant Paul Pogba ball to rifle a volley into the roof of the net.

Deschamps has such strength in depth that he can bring players with the class of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir off the bench; and that’s a sobering thought for any opponent.

Iceland’s big players with big hearts

Iceland will try to stun France in front of their own supporters when the two sides face off in Euro 2020

Iceland’s Vidar Orn Kjartansson celebrates scoring their second goal vs Andorra

Hamren’s minnows have enjoyed remarkable success over the past three years, which landed them in League A of the UEFA Nations League, though coming up against the likes of Belgium will eventually take its toll and they will play in League B next season.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson provides a real touch of class – he’s top scorer with 20 and is the heartbeat of the team, able to dictate the pace of play and turn defence into attack with an incisive ball. Iceland’s best chance of a goal is to win dead ball opportunities. If Sigurdsson is presented a chance within shooting distance then France keeper Hugo Lloris, who’s seen him many times in the Premier League, knows what to expect. He has the ability to pull off the spectacular.

Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson has struggled with injury this season but has returned to fitness and will be a key player in the Clarets’ survival campaign. He’s an intelligent player, with the ability to beat a man, an eye for goal and a strong work ethic. His 71 caps are testament to his worth to the Icemen.

And up front FC Augsburg’s Alfreo Finnbogasen may be the target for the creative players’ supply.

History

Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup and they already had a taste of finals football, qualifying for the 2016 European Championships where they came to the world’s attention by beating England on the way to the quarter final.

The underdogs came into this tournament on the back of three away draws, to Qatar, Sweden and Estonia and so are four matches unbeaten.

But they have never beaten Les Blues in 11 attempts, losing seven and drawing four.

France comes into this game on the back of a comfortable away win to Moldova and, of course, with the World Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Betting Tip

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France vs Iceland France First Half -0.75 @ 1.91
March 26, 03:45(GMT+8)

According to the latest us odds Iceland is in for a hot night at the Stade de France, with the hosts at 1.22 to win. The draw is at 6.50 and Iceland at 9.75.

The Icemen have overcome bigger odds than that before but France hardly got out of second gear in sweeping Moldova aside. Les Bleus scored three in the opening half on Friday night and I’m backing them to get at least one against Iceland.

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Mourinho rules out internationals

Jose Mourinho expects that he will return to management this summer, but he is ruling out taking a step into international football next.

The Portuguese was sacked by Manchester United in December following a poor start to the season by the Red Devils.

He says he already dismissed "three or four" job offers since he departed Old Trafford and is preparing himself for the next move of his career.

Having managed Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid before taking the reins at Man United for two and a half year, the two-time Champions League-winning boss says he knows exactly what type of job he'll be accepting next.

"I would like to be back in the summer in June for a new club and a new pre-season," he told BeIn Sports.

"I know exactly what I don't want. I know what I want, in terms of not the specific club but the nature of the job, the dimension of the job."

Mourinho was linked with a return to Madrid recently before Zinedine Zidane returned for a second stint at the Bernabeu, though he has since stated he didn't hold talks with the Spanish giants about a return.

Mourinho says he misses "nothing at all" but is "not on holiday or bored with nothing to do" before adding: "I am working, preparing myself for the next one."

His former Manchester United side are 20/1 to win the Champions League this season ahead of their quarter-final showdown with Barcelona. Man City meanwhile are 9/4 to give Pep Guardiola more European glory, with Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo 10/3.

One move Mourinho says he won't be making is a step into international football, as he prefers the day-to-day nature of club football.

Asked whether he would be managing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he said: "I don't think so. I like daily football, daily work, many competitions. I like matches and I want to stay in football club level."

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