INTERNATIONAL football obsessive Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his best bets from Sunday's Nations League action.
San Marino v Belarus | Sunday 18th November 2018, 17:00 | Sky Sports
Great credit to Belarus. Stanislav Dragun scored in both halves as the White Wings sealed an impressive 2-0 triumph away at Luxembourg to stay on pace for promotion to Group C of the Nations League.
Igor Kriushenko’s charges were always in command despite seeing their own woodwork rattled, firing in eight on-target efforts. The Belarusians – having suffered a sole defeat in 10 – now only need a point from their trip to no-hopers San Marino on Sunday to confirm top spot.
Belarus are just 1/10 to triumph at Europe’s worst team, San Marino. The hosts are rock-bottom having been beaten in all five of their Nations League fixtures by an aggregate 0-14 – that includes a 5-0 shellacking when the two teams locked horns in Borisov back in early September.
Naturally, gleaning value from such an encounter is tricky but I believe I’ve found a smart way to support Belarus at a very fair 7/4 (Sportingbet) this weekend. The angle involves what’s known in the industry as Dutching.
Put simply, Dutching is a method whereby punters back several selections in an event so that no matter which wins, the returns are the same – we’re essentially splitting stakes to cover more than one possible result.
In this instance, I’m attacking the Correct Score market where Sportingbet have chalked up a 2-0 Belarus win and a 3-0 Belarus success at 9/2. If we were to put the same-sized wager on both bets, we’ll be guaranteed a 7/4 pay-out should the visitors triumph by either scoreline. That’s very appealing.
As already mentioned, Belarus have lost just once in 10 (W5-D4-L1) over the past 12 months and recorded seven clean sheets in that time. And the 5-0 triumph in the reverse showdown is the only occasion since 2014 that the White Wings have scored more than two goals in a game.
In fact, Belarus have notched three or more goals once on their travels in eight years. Considering the guests have pretty much already wrapped up top spot, there’s no real need for them to go nuts here.
Obviously, San Marino are as bad as any at this level and head into the meeting having lost each of their past 26 games, scoring three goals, and so the away win ‘to nil’ looks a near certainty. But what’s interesting is, their last 11 home matches (all defeats) only saw four sides score four or more goals.
Go back further and over the past three years, only Switzerland, England, Germany, Czech Republic and Norway have registered four or more goals when playing away to San Marino with half of their past 14 home losses ending in 2-0 or 3-0 defeats.
Moldova v Luxembourg | Sunday 18th November 2018, 17:00 | Sky Sports
Luxembourg disappointed on Thursday night against Belarus and are now highly unlikely to achieve promotion. The Red Lions must now travel to Moldova to complete their Nations League campaign with both nations relying on Belarus to slip up at San Marino to stand any chance of sealing top spot.
Moldova were demolished 4-0 when the duo locked horns in September and whilst I don’t expect either side to dominate this match quite so explicably on Sunday, the obvious play is to oppose both sides scoring, which is becoming a remarkably common occurrence in their international outing.
The hosts have seen just one of their past 14 fixtures feature Both Teams To Score, as they’ve recorded five shutouts in six. For Luxembourg, only two of their previous 15 matches have paid out for BTTS backers as they’ve registered six clean sheets in their most recent nine.
Considering the data available, supporting Both Teams To Score ‘No’ at 4/5 (BetBright) is too good to ignore. The odds imply just a 56% chance of success.
Greece v Estonia | Sunday 18th November 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Greece began life under Angelos Anastasiadis’ tutorship with an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Finland on Thursday. It was the Pirate Ship’s four triumph in eight since their World Cup qualification campaign ended in the play-offs, with each win arriving via the same 1-0 scoreline.
The Euro 2004 champions have scored only five goals in those eight ties and beat the Finns thanks to a fortunate own goal. The Greeks did hit the woodwork on Thursday night but forced only three on-target efforts across the 90 minutes despite their need for a big victory to keep their promotion dreams alive.
Greece have now only twice notched more than a solitary strike since October 2016 (one being against Gibraltar), and whilst I still have grave concerns over their ability to compete near the top level, I’m comfortable supporting the hosts when they welcome a wretched Estonia outfit to Athens.
Estonia have already been relegated to the bottom tier following their 2-0 loss at Hungary on Thursday night. The Blues lost the shot count 18-6 in Budapest and the on-target count 6-1 as they lost for the fourth time in five winless Nations League encounters, failing to even score in each defeat (W0-D1-L4).
Since 2015, Estonia’s only away triumphs have arrived against Malta, Gibraltar, Latvia and Antigua & Barbuda and I’m happy to get against them here. We can back Greece to win alongside Under 3.5 Goals at 10/11 (Betway).
A huge 23 of the Greeks last 24 matches when excluding games against Gibraltar have featured Under 3.5 Goals, as have 14 of their past 16 wins when again excluding Gibraltar. Meanwhile, nine of Estonia’s most recent 11 losses have also produced no more than three goals.
San Marino v Belarus – Belarus to win 2-0 (9/2 Sportingbet)
San Marino v Belarus – Belarus to win 3-0 (9/2 Sportingbet)
Moldova v Luxembourg – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (4/5 BetBright)
Greece v Estonia – Greece to win and Under 3.5 Goals (10/11 Betway)