World Cup Qualifiers: A conservative view on Sunday’s showdowns

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Daniel McCulloch (@Danmcc84) shares his betting views on Sunday’s best World Cup qualifying bets from across the continent.

Hungary v Portugal| Sunday 3rd September 2017, 19:45 | ITV 4

Portugal’s 27 goals from their seven games in Group B seems quite impressive at first glance. However, when you consider that this is a group in which there are two teams poorer than the Faroe Islands (according to both UEFA’s coefficients and the current table) you can see why they have found the net so many times.

To date, Portugal has played three games away from home in this group. After starting with a disappointing 2-0 loss in Switzerland, they have put six past the Faroe Islands and three past Latvia.

Whilst Hungary is clearly not in the class of Switzerland, they will be a tougher proposition than either of the sides that Portugal have swept aside and I would not be backing a Seleccao at 2/5 in the outright market with anyone’s money.

Portugal squeeze past Hungary by exactly one goal    

Anything but a victory will see Hungary’s chances of reaching Russia next summer vanish but I don’t believe even the most optimistic of fans believe they can qualify.

That said, they are a tough side to beat at home and it took an 89th-minute winner from Valentin Stocker to ensure that league leaders Switzerland claimed all three points in Budapest last October.

During Euro 2016 qualifying, Portugal faced Armenia, Albania, Denmark, and Serbia. Incredibly they won each away game by a single goal and given that I would put Hungary in a similar bracket to these sides, I feel that the 5/2 bet365 are offering on them winning by precisely one goal is the great value.

Greece v Belhium| Sunday 3rd September 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports

I think it’s reasonable to say that it is always worth keeping this score line on the side when Greece is involved. To date, two of their seven games in Group H have ended in this manner and just one match has finished with over 2.5 goals. That was against Gibraltar.

Belgium has scored 33 times in their seven matches but given that 23 of those came in three matches against Gibraltar and Estonia, I am not too concerned with this statistic.

Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina are their two strongest competitors in this group and they are yet to face either away from home.

Stalemate to look forward to in Greece

Whilst Belgium qualified comfortably for Euro 2016, the opposition was slightly tougher than they have encountered during this campaign as they were involved in tight games away with Wales (1-0 loss), Bosnia (1-1 draw) and Cyprus (1-0 win).

I also believe that 0-0 is a reasonable result for both sides. It guarantees that Belgium qualify for the World Cup in Russia, whilst Greece only have Cyprus and Gibraltar to face after this game so will have a great chance of securing a playoff place.

0-0 is 13/2 with William Hill and I feel that it is a scenario that occurs far more frequently than those odds suggest. Ideally, I would have a saver on 1-0 to the away side but given that you cannot even get 9/2 on such an event, I would recommend simply backing a goalless game in Athens tonight.

 

Best Bets

Hungary v Portugal – Portugal to beat Hungary by precisely one goal (5/2 Bet365)

Greece v Belgium – Greece 0-0 Belgium (13/2 William Hill)

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