INTERNATIONAL football obsessive Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his best bets from Tuesday's Nations League action.
Hungary v Greece | Tuesday 11th September 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Hungary began Marco Rossi’s reign with a 1-0 reverse in Finland on Saturday. The Magyars recovered from a wretched start to put the hosts under pressure in the first-half but failure to finish off presentable opportunities put paid to their prospects of picking up at least a point in their Nations League opener.
Finland twice hit the woodwork after the interval, threatening on the break but Hungary can be satisfied by their efforts despite the final score. Rossi’s men won the shot count 16-6 and produced a much improved display under the new boss.
Since Euro 2016, Tuesday night’s hosts have suffered the ignominy of defeats to minnows Luxembourg and Andorra. The Magyars came nowhere near qualifying for the World Cup and are now aiming to rebuild with a view to securing a spot at Euro 2020, but as the Finland fixture proved, they’re a work in progress.
With few outstanding individuals available – Hoffenheim forward Adam Szalai captains the team and leads the line with Balazs Dzsudzsak unavailable and is the only member of the squad based in one of Europe’s top five leagues – Hungary’s task in a pool alongside Finland and Greece is no easy meat.
The Greeks were 1-0 winners in Estonia but the final score should have been more convincing with the Euro 2004 champions winning the on-target tally 6-2 in Tallinn. Nevertheless, the win extended the Pirate Ship’s fine recent form on their travels.
Michael Skibbe’s side have now W5-D2-L1 across their past eight away days, including avoiding defeat in both Belgium and Bosnia during World Cup qualification. The visitors look well worth siding with on Tuesday, especially when you consider Hungary have W3-D1-L11 over their last 15 outings.
I’d like the added insurance of the draw onside so I’ll pick up the 9/10 (Bet365) on Greece double chance and Under 3 Goals via their Bet Builder function. We’ll make money should the guests win 1-0, 2-0 or draw 0-0 or 1-1, and that seems fair with goals unlikely to be flowing in Budapest.
The visitors have seen fewer than three goals in 12 of their past 16 encounters with six of their most recent 11 paying out for Under 1.5 Goals backers. Five of Hungary’s last eight have seen Under 2.5 Goals land with four of those matches also rewarding Under 1.5 Goals punters.
San Marino v Luxembourg | Tuesday 11th September 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Football in Luxembourg is thriving.
Only last month F91 Dudelange fought the odds to qualify for the Europa League group stages, seeing off Legia Warsaw and CFR Cluj along the way. And on Saturday the national side kicked-off their Nations League campaign with their biggest-ever home win, beating Moldova 4-0.
Under Luc Holtz, the landlocked minnows have climbed to 85th in the FIFA rankings having been 148th just six years ago. How? Well steady improvements that have included holding world champions France to a draw, and beating Greece, Albania, Hungary, Belarus and Georgia in recent years.
They might not be Brazil 1970 but the Red Lions are in decent nick and should be well capable of disposing of San Marino on Tuesday night. The visitors have remarkably W7-D3-L3 in their last 13 outings – to put that into contest, Luxembourg lost 20 of their 24 previous encounters.
Overcoming San Marino shouldn’t be too tricky. The international whipping boys lost a cumulative 51-2 in World Cup qualification as they accumulated zero points. They conceded at least three goals in all bar one of those 10 tussles.
The hosts have lost been beaten in their past 22 matches with only Lichtenstein and Azerbaijan managing to score no more than once. Meanwhile, 19 of those losses saw San Marino fire a blank.
At home, the part-timers have lost 42 of 43 outings since 2004, scoring in just two games over the past 10 years. I’m confident the improving Luxembourg outfit can silence San Marino once more.
We have to be a little inventive with this punt but again using Bet365’s Bet Builder, we can back Luxembourg to win, Both Teams To Score ‘No’ and Over 1 Goal at 20/21 – it means we’ll be paid out should the Red Lions win without conceding on Tuesday night by any scoreline other than 1-0.