Ronaldo returns to boost holders

The qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship gets under way this week, with holders Portugal aiming to make a winning start against Ukraine in Lisbon on Friday.

The Selecao shocked the continent in 2016 as they went all the way in France, even edging out the hosts in the final despite losing Cristiano Ronaldo to injury early on in the game.

The 34-year-old, who has made a stunning start to his Juventus career since joining from Real Madrid last summer, has not featured for his country since they lost out to Uruguay in the last-16 of the 2018 World Cup and his return is sure to be a major boost.

Portugal in line for winning start

In the absence of Ronaldo, Portugal have drawn three and won three of their last six internationals, qualifying for the final stages of the Nations League on home soil in the process.

Their only two clean sheets in that time came against Italy, so visiting Ukraine may fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet on Friday, with both teams to score in the game priced at 2.40.

The home side, meanwhile, are 2.60 to win by one goal, which was the same margin both Italy and Poland were sent packing in the Nations League.

England aim to stay on a roll

Also in action on Friday are World Cup semi-finalists England, who welcome the Czech Republic to Wembley for the first meeting of the two sides in just over a decade.

The Three Lions surprised many by going so deep into last summer’s tournament in Russia, but they proved it was no fluke by reaching the final stages of the Nations League, knocking out both Spain and Croatia in the process.

The Czechs have a man in form in front of goal in the shape of Roma forward Patrik Schick, who has scored three goals in his last five international outings, but their overall goal return is far from impressive – just two goals scored in their last three games.

With that in mind, the hosts to win to nil at 1.71 and 1.50 to keep a clean sheet appear to be decent options, as head coach Gareth Southgate looks to keep the positive momentum going.

Point to prove for Belgium

Another of the World Cup semi-finalists, Belgium, are in action on Thursday when they welcome Russia, who hosted the showpiece event last summer.

The Red Devils have a point to prove after being thumped 5-2 in Switzerland last time out, a result which saw the victors snatch a place in the last four of the Nations League.

And they also have a striker to fear, with Manchester United ace Romelu Lukaku having found the net five times in his last four international outings.

He also has six to his name in his last three appearances for his club side and will be eager to maintain his fine form in Brussels.

Belgium are unbeaten in five previous meetings with Russia and they look like decent value at 3.35 to win by two goals and 1.60 to score over 2.5 total goals in the game.

Poland blessed with strike options

Another intriguing clash on Thursday sees Poland head to Vienna to take on Austria and the Ernst Happel Stadium.

The visitors have long been reliant on the goals of Robert Lewandowski to maintain their status, with the Bayern Munich ace already well past the 50-goal mark in international football.

However, the emergence of Krzysztof Piatek this season suggests that a potential long-term successor is already among their number.

Piatek joined Genoa last summer, where he scored 19 goals in 21 games to earn a big move to AC Milan within a matter of months.

He has started his Rossoneri career with eight strikes in ten outings, while he also got off the mark for his country in the 3-2 Nations League loss to Portugal in October of last year.

That sort of strike power suggests that there should be goals on offer in the Austrian capital, with over 2.5 total goals in the game 2.10, while 3.85 for over 3.5 total goals may also be worth bearing in mind.