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Nations League Thursday predictions: Relegation in full view for Les Bleus
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James Mason
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Didier Deschamps is looking to salvage France's Nations League campaign.
Didier Deschamps is looking to salvage France's Nations League campaign.

There are a host of Nations League matches taking place across Thursday including the Group A1 contest between Austria and France, who are staring relegation to League B in the face.

France vs Austria (Thursday, 7.45pm)

The stats

France won the second edition of the Nations League in 2021, beating Spain 2-1 in the final, but just two points from their opening four Group A1 matches has them in serious threat of dropping into League B this time around.

It would not be the end of the world if Les Bleus were to fall out of the top tier of the Nations League, but it would put a degree of pressure on manager Didier Deschamps heading into the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

The reigning world champions are on a four-game winless run heading into Thursday's encounter at the Stade de France, with defeats to Denmark and Croatia coming either side of back-to-back draws with the Croats and Austria.

France have conceded five goals during this period, while only netting three times at the other end, and they are unable to qualify for the Nations League Finals with two group matches remaining.

Austria are two points ahead of Les Bleus, but they are also lacking that bit of cutting edge and are without a win in their last three outings - with two defeats at the hands of Denmark coming either side of a 1-1 draw with France.

Prediction

France will be desperate to avoid relegation to League B but there is just the feeling this fate will not be swerved and there is every chance Austria could come away with a positive result on Thursday.

With Karim Benzema not in the squad, there is a lot of pressure on Kylian Mbappe to provide the attacking threat, while a young midfield that is relatively inexperienced at international level may find it difficult to provide the control needed.

Austria may not be the most entertaining team to watch, but they are a well-drilled unit and have experience throughout the side, with David Alaba, Marcel Sabitzer and Marko Arnautovic boasting 260 caps between them. It is this experience that can see them come away from the Stade de France with at least a draw.

Can France cope without the injured Karim Benzema against Austria?
Can France cope without the injured Karim Benzema against Austria?

Croatia vs Denmark (Thursday, 7.45pm)

The stats

The other Group A1 clash on Thursday will see Croatia, currently in second, take on pool leaders Denmark at Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb.

Denmark have won three and lost one of their four games to sit top of the standings, one place and two points ahead of Croatia heading into this penultimate group game.

A victory for Kasper Hjulmand's side would secure their place in the Nations League Finals with a match to spare, while success for the 2018 World Cup runners-up would lift them into first position.

The Dane's have won their last two away assignments, picking up 2-1 successes against France and Austria, while Croatia are unbeaten in their previous three contests and have won the last two both 1-0.

Prediction

While Croatia are a tough nut to crack, the opportunity to qualify for the Nations League Finals is one Denmark will surely not pass up on Thursday.

Hjulmand's side have produced some of their best performances away from home, especially in the 2-1 triumph in France, and they will be confident of chalking up another victory.

Croatia have stumbled on home soil, having lost 3-0 to Austria before drawing 1-1 with Les Bleus, and it would be no surprise to see Denmark come away with the spoils.

Kasper Hjulmand is looking to lead Denmark to the Nations League finals.
Kasper Hjulmand is looking to lead Denmark to the Nations League finals.

Poland vs Netherlands (Thursday, 7.45pm)

The stats

Poland are unable to qualify for the Nations League Finals, as they sit third in Group A4 on four points, three clear of rock-bottom Wales but six behind pool leaders the Netherlands.

After beating Wales 2-1 in their opener, Poland were thrashed 6-1 by Belgium, drew 2-2 with the Dutch and then were edged out 1-0 by the Red Devils.

The Netherlands have won three and drawn one of their four matches, leaving them three points ahead of Belgium, while they are on a 13-game unbeaten streak across all competitions (friendlies included).

With Belgium expected to get the better of Wales on Thursday, the Netherlands will be eager to claim the spoils and set up a group-winning showdown with Roberto Martinez's men.

Prediction

Although relegation is still a possibility, the threat of dropping into League B is unlikely to be enough to spark a winning performance from Poland, even though they are on home soil.

The Netherlands know a victory will likely maintain their three-point advantage over Belgium and put them one step closer to the Nations League Finals, while any slip-up from the Red Devils could see top spot secured on Thursday.

Louis Van Gaal's side have been entertaining to watch, with 25 goals seen in their last six matches, and more goalmouth action is expected at Stadion Narodowy.

With both teams keeping just one clean sheet from their last eight outings, it would be no surprise to see the Netherlands come out on top in a game that has over 2.5 goals.

Tags

UEFA Nations LeagueFranceAustriaDenmarkCroatiaNetherlandsPoland
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