HUNGARY hold a one-goal advantage going into the second leg of this Euro 2016 play-off. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) talks us through the best bets.
Hungary v Norway | Sunday 19.45 | Sky Sports 5
I felt for Norway on Thursday night. The Landslaget had 21 attempts on goal, dominated possession and hit the woodwork but a severe lack of spark and cutting edge in the final third cost them a first leg advantage against Hungary.
Earning his 100th cap, former Crystal Palace stopper Gabor Kiraly turned in a superb performance and the Norwegians will now know they must score if they’re to stand any chance of securing qualification to Euro 2016.
The visitors did pocket victories in Malta, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria during qualifying but defeats at Croatia and Italy for Per-Mathias Hogmo’s side suggest they’re more flat track bullies than big-time boxers when it comes to the biggest stages of all.
It’s hard to imagine the goals flowing in Budapest in such a high-pressurised environment; the travellers have seen fewer than three goals in all bar one of their most recent six qualifiers whilst the Landslaget have fired blanks on seven occasions since the start of the 2014/15 campaign, even in Estonia and Azerbiajan.
Indeed, Norway notched just 13 goals across their 10 group-games but I’m willing to have a play on Hogmo’s troops grabbing a goal. Player-for-player, I make the Norwegians slightly better and throw in their desperation for a goal, I believe they boast the capabilities to get on the scoresheet.
Laszlo Kleinheisler’s first-half goal gave Hungary a hugely important 1-0 win in the first leg putting the Magyars firmly in favour for the return in Budapest. Bernd Storck’s men have kept their opponents scoreless in six of their last nine qualifies and only leaked once in their last four on home soil.
Roland Juhasz returns from suspension and should start alongside Richard Guzmics at the heart of the defence but Zoltan Gera misses out through suspension. The return of Juhasz should enhance the hosts’ backline and whilst bookmakers understandably favour a low-scoring tie, I’m still keen to explore a goals angle.
It’s 30 years since Hungary last qualified for a major tournament and Northern Ireland are the only nation to leave Budapest with a competitive win in over three years. But will the pressure tell on the Magyars? It wouldn’t surprise, would it?
Both Teams To Score is a bet that’s won in three of Hungary’s most recent four whilst Norway had scored in four successive fixtures prior to their Oslo blank. Although the Magyars netted just 11 in their 10 qualifying games (three in one 4-3 loss to Greece) they have scored in 18 of their last 20 so taking a chance on the 23/20 (William Hill) on offer for BTTS looks right up my street.
Hungary v Norway – Both Teams To Score (23/20 William Hill)