Belgium and Portugal to keep Qualifying Clean Sheets

Belgium beat Estonia 8-1 in their last qualifier.

The European Champions are in action on Saturday night as Cristiano Ronaldo and co. repeat one of their group games in France in the World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Hungary held Portugal to a 3-3 draw in an incredible game, and the two sides meet again, this time on Portuguese soil.

Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ under-performed in France, with a quarter-final exit less than pre-tournament expectations. They’ve done little wrong in qualifying so far though, and headline our international tips for Saturday night. They’ve already scored 21 goals and conceded just once in four games against Cyprus, Bosnia, Gibraltar and Estonia, ahead of the weekend match versus Greece. The visitors are their closest competitors in 2nd place in group H with ten points, but this is arguably their toughest match of the campaign.

Holland missed out on the European Championships altogether, but they are in a much better position this time around behind France in group A. The Dutch have seven points from their opening four games and sit just ahead of Sweden and Bulgaria in 3rd and 4th. The latter are Saturday’s opponents and Holland could be a good bet to take three points on the road in a high-scoring affair.

Belgium v Greece

There are plenty of one-sided games during international breaks, which means very short odds. Another option is to back the superior side to keep a clean sheet for a greater return. Belgium are -110  with SkyBet and Bet365 to beat Greece to nil.

Belgium have swept beside all before them so far in group H, beginning with a 3-0 away win in Cyprus. A 4-0 home win over Serbia was even more impressive, as the Serbs are arguably the next best team in the group. Roberto Martinez’ side went on to thump Gibraltar 6-0 and Estonia 8-1, and striker Romelu Lukaku has already bagged five goals in four games. That one slip against Estonia was the only goal conceded so far, and another clean sheet is a distinct possibility if Belgium dominate the ball as expected.

Greece endured a terrible Euro 2016 qualifying campaign which saw them finish bottom of the group that Northern Ireland, Romania and Hungary came through. Things have gone much better in this World Cup qualifying campaign with three wins and a draw from four matches, but they have beaten very little quality in Gibraltar, Cyprus and Estonia. It took a 95th minute equaliser to salvage a point in a 1-1 home draw with Serbia in their last qualifier in November, and it would be no surprise if they struggled to get chances against Belgium.

Portugal v Hungary

It’s a similar scenario for Portugal, who can be backed at a better price of -118  with BetVictor to beat Hungary to nil.

The two did play out that remarkable 3-3 draw in France last summer, at which point few would have predicted a Portugal triumph. However, it was their defensive class in the latter stages of the tournament which saw them go on and lift the trophy, and that is more likely to be on show here.

Portugal are in 2nd place in group B behind Switzerland, after losing 2-0 to the Swiss in the opening game. Both have won the subsequent three qualifiers, and the Portuguese have been banging the goals in. They completed back-to-back 6-0 wins over Andorra and Faroe Islands, before beating Latvia 4-1 in their most recent international. That goal was the only one they’ve conceded in the last five home matches – each of which was a comfortable win.

Hungary qualified for last year’s Euros after beating Norway in a play off, but confounded expectations by squeezing through to the knockout stages. They were summarily dumped out of the competition by Belgium 4-0, but it can be classed as a successful period for the Hungarian team. Their chances of achieving the same in Russia appear slim after a home defeat by Switzerland and a draw with Faroe Islands in the first two games. They’ve regained some ground with victories over Latvia and Andorra, but will find it tough to get anything here.

Bulgaria v Holland

Finally Holland and both teams to score is a lively bet at +260  with Coral and William Hill.

The Dutch have won six of the last eight away internationals – both teams scoring in five of those victories. Bulgaria have lost four of their last six internationals, but have only failed to get on the scoresheet twice.

Holland will be desperate to make up for a dismal Euro qualifying campaign, but their weaknesses continue to follow them. It’s just one clean sheet in the last ten matches, but at least they are still on track to challenge for qualification. A draw away at Sweden – rivals for 2nd place behind France – isn’t too bad in the context, while a 1-0 home defeat to the French probably put paid to hopes of topping the group. In other qualifying games Holland have beaten Luxembourg 3-1 and Belarus 4-1, and it could be a similar outcome on Saturday night.

Tips Summary

Belgium to win to nil
Saturday 25th March, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -110

Portugal to win to nil
Saturday 25th March, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -118

Holland to win and both teams to score
Saturday 25th March, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +260

Russia 2018
World Cup Qualifiers

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