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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Azerbaijan value to hit back with win over Malta

Kazakhstan worthy odds-on shots against Andorra

Roberto Mancini's Italy are on the back foot
1 of 1

7.45pm Monday

Italy had hoped that the Nations League would give them the platform to put their World Cup qualification woes behind them but they drew 1-1 at home to Poland in their League A Group 3 opener and face a tough task against Portugal in Lisbon.

The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo significantly weakens the Portugal attack and it will be interesting to see which players take up the responsibility of filling the void.

Portugal needed veteran centre-back Pepe to pop up with the equaliser in a 1-1 friendly draw at home to World Cup finalists Croatia on Thursday, although they dominated the game and won the shot count 19 to five.

Italy looked toothless in their draw with the Poles and recalled striker Mario Balotelli had a quiet game.

Portugal are the narrow favourites but a tight, low-scoring match is expected with the draw an 11-5 chance and under 2.5 goals 4-7.

There could be more excitement in Malta's League D Group 3 contest against Azerbaijan, given the anxiety of both teams to register their first win of the competition.

Malta crashed 3-1 in the Faroe Islands on Friday and they face an even tougher test against the Azeris, who will be looking to build on a 0-0 draw at home to Kosovo.

Azerbaijan can ill-afford to drop more points at this stage and they look odds-against value to prevail.

Kazakhstan have their backs to the wall in League D Group 1 after losing 2-0 at home to Georgia on Thursday but they can respond by justifying odds-on favouritism away to Andorra.

The Kazakhs had their moments against the Georgians, who are red hot 1-4 favourites to win the section.

They should have better luck against sectional outsiders Andorra, who may be suffering from fatigue after battling to a 0-0 draw away to Latvia.

1pt 6-5 bet365, BoyleSports
1pt 7-11 188Bet

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Portugal are the narrow favourites but a tight, low-scoring match is expected
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