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Last Updated: 03/09/20 11:28am
Team news and previews ahead of Thursday’s Nations League fixtures, with Wales and Republic of Ireland in action, plus, Germany take on Spain.
Wales, Republic of Ireland live on Sky Sports
Finland vs Wales – 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event
UEFA Nations League
September 4, 2020, 7:00pm
After finishing second in Group B1 in the inaugural Nations League and then subsequently qualifying for the European Championships, boss Ryan Giggs seems to be taking Wales in the right direction. This Group B4 opener with Finland will be a tough assignment for his young team though. Finland gained promotion to this tier after topping Nations League Group C2 and, like Wales, qualified for the Euros as runners-up in their group behind Italy, reaching their first-ever major tournament.
Team news – Wales: Giggs has a depleted squad to pick from with Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks, Tyler Roberts and Ashley Williams all unavailable. Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has joined up with the squad but will be lacking match practice having started just one match for his club since February 16.
Transfer watch: Bale got tongues wagging on Wednesday saying he would consider a return to the Premier League if Real Madrid finally let him leave the club. He’ll be looking to remind the watching world of his talents in Helsinki. Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki is likely to lead the line for Finland, where he is treated as a national hero. However, the striker is without a goal from open play since December and a goal in the league since February, which perhaps is the reason the relegated Canaries look set to keep hold of him in this window.
How to watch: Live coverage starts at 7pm on Sky Sports Main Event; Kick-off 7.45pm. Follow updates on the Sky Sports website and app via the live match blog, as well as on Sky Sports News’ Euro Goal Zone.
Bulgaria vs Republic of Ireland – 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Football
Stephen Kenny admits he has not had time to reflect upon the latest landmark in his career as he prepares to send the Republic of Ireland into battle for the first time.
The former U21s boss has replaced Mick McCarthy in charge of the senior side since Ireland’s last game, a 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifier draw with Denmark, and it is he who will attempt to guide them to the finals in next month’s play-off against Slovakia.
The manager said: “The first thing is that the Nations League potentially gives you a World Cup play-off, a chance to be promoted to Group A, so with that in mind you’ve got to win the group.
“It’s not easy. First of all, we want to win the game if we could. That’s important for us. And there is also the bigger picture of the Slovakia game in October with a view to that as well.
“I can say to you that each game is in isolation and we’ll look at that when it comes, and there is an element of truth in that, but you have to see the wider view, we are building towards that as well.”
Team news – Republic of Ireland: Kenny is sweating over the fitness of James McCarthy, who is struggling with a calf problem picked up in Crystal Palace’s pre-season friendly win over Oxford. West Brom defender Dara O’Shea could be one of three players set for an international debut. He, Brighton midfielder Jayson Molumby and Norwich City striker Adam Idah all have been promoted from the U21 side to the senior level by Kenny, who was the country’s U21 boss.
How to watch: Live coverage starts at 7pm on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 7.45pm. Follow updates on the Sky Sports website and app via the live match blog, as well as on Sky Sports News’ Euro Goal Zone.
Heavyweights Germany, Spain meet
Germany vs Spain – 7.45, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Germany vs Spain
September 3, 2020, 7:40pm
Here we have a heavyweight clash that showcases the Nations League and why pitting A-list countries against one another in this format is a far more exciting proposition than just meaningless friendlies. These two nations are joined in Group A4 by Switzerland and Ukraine.
Spain and Germany both topped their respective European Championship qualification groups. Luis Enrique is back in charge and has guided his country to 11 games unbeaten while the Germans have won seven of their last eight competitive fixtures.
Team news – Germany: Leroy Sane could make his first competitive start of any kind for over a year for Germany. Bayern Munich’s new signing ruptured his cruciate ligament playing for Manchester City in their Community Shield win last season but is now back to full fitness. Club team-mates Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry are missing though having been given extra time off following Bayern’s Champions League final win. Arsenal’s Bernd Leno is likely to start in goal.
Team news – Spain: Enrique is keen to nurture the next generation of Spanish stars through the ranks and could start all of Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Eric Garcia and Pau Torres in this encounter. Adama Traore, originally called up, tested positive for COVID-19 and is therefore now unavailable.
Enrique said: “If the European Championship was to be played tomorrow, this would be my team. All players have to take a step forward, whether they are 17 years old or 19 years old or 33 years old. Ansu Fati is at a level in which he can be here with us.”
Transfer watch: Liverpool have been linked with a move for Thiago Alcantara all summer and the Bayern midfielder is in the Spain squad despite his German team-mates being given time off. Noises around the potential move have quieted down in the past week but with Gini Wijnaldum subject of serious interest from Barcelona, things may pick up again soon.
How to watch: Live coverage starts at 7.40pm on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 7.45pm. Follow updates on the Sky Sports website and app via the live match blog, as well as on Sky Sports News’ Euro Goal Zone.
Other matches on Sky
All other matches kick-off at 7.45pm and are live on Sky Sports Football via the Red Button, or the Sky Sports app, unless stated:
Latvia vs Andorra (Kick-off 5pm)
Faroe Islands vs Malta
Moldova vs Kosovo
Russia vs Serbia
Slovenia vs Greece
Turkey vs Hungary
Ukraine vs Switzerland