A memorable homecoming for Italy and same old, same old from Belgium in our Thursday acca

European champions should beat Bulgaria with something to spare, while Golden Generation get another chance to shine and Northern Ireland look to get up and running.

Italy vs Bulgaria

The European champions return to action in Group C against Bulgaria in what is sure to be a memorable homecoming for Roberto Mancini's men.

The two sides met on matchday two in Sofia, with goals from Andrea Belotti and Manuel Locatelli securing a 2-0 win for the visitors.

Since then Bulgaria have gone on to draw with Northern Ireland and Slovakia and lose to Russia and France, scoring just one goal in the process.

Italy, meanwhile, have played ten games, extending their unbeaten run to 34 in the process. That win in March was part of an incredible run of 10 games without conceding for the Azzurri and while they have conceded a goal in each of their last four games, we can't see an inexperienced Bulgaria breaching their backline.

Therefore, Italy to win to nil is the way to go, with our sneaking fancy being for a 3-0 scoreline.

Lithuania vs Northern Ireland

Shayne Lavery Northern Ireland Mar21

In the same group, Northern Ireland will be looking to finally get their campaign up and running in Vilnius.

The visitors come into the game on the back of a draw with Bulgaria and a 2-0 defeat to Italy, while the home side have suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Italians and Switzerland.

They have also failed to score in four of their last five outings.

Not that Ian Baraclough's men are much more prolific, having failed to score in five of their last ten games.

The loss of Hull City striker Josh Magennis through injury will further hamper them in the goalscoring department (although eight goals in 61 appearances for his country doesn't exactly scream prolific).

However, in Shayne Lavery they have a striker in form - the 22-year-old has two goals for Blackpool already this season - and he might just be the man to nick it for Norn Iron.

Iceland vs Romania

Ionut Nedelcearu Romania Marcus Rashford England

Group J is shaping up to be a fascinating group, with Armenia currently leading the way and Germany down in third three matches in.

Armenia's three wins have come against whipping boys Liechtenstein and these two sides who will, nevertheless, still fancy their chances of progressing from an open group.

Until they lost to the table-toppers - two late goals condemning them to a 3-2 defeat - Romania would have been relatively happy with their opening to qualifying.

A 3-2 win over Euro 2020 qualifiers North Macedonia was followed by a 1-0 defeat to Germany, while England needed a Marcus Rashford penalty to sneak past Mirel Radoi's side in the build up to the Euros.

Iceland's only two wins from their last 11 have come against Liechtenstein and Faroe Islands and while they did secure a Gylfi Sigurdsson-inspired 2-1 over the visitors in the Euro qualifiers last October, we are banking on the visitors to turn around that result.

Liechtenstein vs Germany

Antonio Rudiger Germany Jul21

The Hansi Flick-era gets off to a low-key start with a trip to St Gallen's Kybunpark.

The hosts come into the qualifier having conceded 21 goals in their last four games, including five to the mighty Faroe Islands and will be hoping to get away without too much of a hiding.

That being said, Germany don't exactly arrive in rude health having been bombed out of Euro 2020 in the round of 16 by England. And that after scraping through to the knockout stage by the skin of their teeth.

A World Cup qualifying defeat to Macedonia and a 6-0 loss to Spain in the Nations League should probably have flagged up all was not well with Die Mannschaft and Flick has gone with what he knows, selecting eight Bayern Munich players in his squad.

Thomas Muller is a doubt for Thursday, but with Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner among his striking options, the visitors should have no trouble filling their boots.

Estonia vs Belgium

When the 2030 World Cup comes around we will still be talking about a final chance for Belgium's Golden generation - after all, Romelu Lukaku will only be 37!

And they will again flatter to deceive before bowing out in the quarter-finals.

The best team in the world, both in terms of ranking, and on paper, they are repeatedly unable to translate quality into tournament-long performances.

What they are able to do, however, is qualify for tournaments at a canter.

Belgium disappointment Euro 2020 Jul21

Belgium won all ten matches to make Euro 2020 and although they have already dropped two points on their way to Qatar - drawing with the Czech Republic - bottom side Estonia should present few problems when it comes to the three points.

The home side do have a goal in them, though. They have only failed to score in two of their last ten games and despite conceding six to Czech Republic replied with two of their own.

A healthy away win is a given but both teams to score will provide a useful acca boost.

READ MORE: Ten things you didn’t know about England’s next opponents, Hungary

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