Hungary’s Ferencvaros return to the UEFA Champions League this week as they travel to Partizani Tirani. Our betting tips suggest a low-scoring game.
Hungarian champions Ferencvaros are in a decent position to qualify for the next round after the first leg finished 1-1 in Albania. Those odds surprise me a little when you consider that the first leg finished so close, but I have to agree that Ferencvaros are the big favourites and really should have enough to beat Tirana tomorrow. The visitors have plenty of experience in European qualifiers, but they don’t often get very far and have only won three previous ties.
Partizani Tirana are late entrants into the competition after Albanian champions Skënderbeu Korçë were kicked out for match-fixing. They finished 7 points behind Skenderbeu last season but did lose 3 fewer games so they are a tough side to beat. They’ve already played in the Europa League, drawing their 1st Leg at home to Slovan Bratislava 0-0 a fortnight ago only for the 2nd Leg to be cancelled after their promotion into this competition. This should be a tougher game but Albanian football is clearly on the rise with Skenderbeu making the play-off round of this competition last year and becoming the first Albanian side to play in the group phase of a European competition while Albania’s qualification and solid showing at Euro 2016 shows their football is in a good state.
The same could be said of Hungary for that matter and Ferencváros do have a proud tradition in this competition. They won the Hungarian League for the 1st time in 12 years last term to enter the Champions League for the first time since 2004-05 when they overcame KF Tirana at this stage. Their recent record in Europe is not great though and their last 3 European campaigns have all ended in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Europa League against fairly undistinguished opponents.
The Hungarians are a well organised unit and pretty solid at the back. They’ve played two friendlies ahead of this game and both finished 0-0 with Standard Liège their most recent opponents. Their last 2 competitive games both ended in 1-0 wins and they are likely to try and keep things tight here and hope to win the tie in the 2nd Leg in Budapest.
Partizani games don’t tend to attract many goals either. Last season 24 of their 36 league games had under 2.5 goals. They had the best defensive record in Albania but scored 22 fewer goals than the champions and may struggle to break down their well-organised opponents here, who are also a little short in terms of cutting edge.
Therefore backing there to be under 2.5 goals at 4/5 looks good here.
Head To Head
These sides have never met before in European competition.
67% of Partizani's league games last term had under 2.5 goals. They have only won 3 of their previous 23 European ties. Including friendlies Ferencvaros come into this match having kept 4 consecutive clean sheets.
Goalkeeper Alban Hoxha was the only Partizani player in the Albania squad at Euro 2016 and he will start here. Italian forward Caleb Ekuban could make his debut up front.
Ferencvaros could go with the same side that beat Standard Liege on penalties in a friendly last week. That includes several members of Hungary's Euro 2016 squad including the experienced Zoltán Gera, who have foregone a summer break to be involved in this fixture.
Tirana had never hosted anyone from Hungary before last weeks opening leg against Ferencvaros, and the Albanians gave a very good account of themselves. The first half finished very tight and tense, with each side looking a little too cautious going forward. That changed very quickly in the second forty-five as Fili put the underdogs in front after just two minutes of the restart. Ferencvaros didn’t panic though and scored what could prove to be a vital away goal and equaliser in the seventy-first minute through Böde.
The hosts are in very good form and unbeaten in their last six games, so Tirana have a very tough task on their hands to make it to the next qualifying round. The visitors are going to need to perform much better than they have been if they are to earn a positive result from this match, as they have only managed one win from their last six in all competitions. Tirana are here by default thanks to Albanian champions Korce being eliminated for match fixing, and so far they are flying the flag for their nation with great pride. I’m not sure that Tirana will have enough to beat Ferencvaros, and if the hsots score first this will mean the visitors push forward and leave space in behind and then we could be in for a fairly big final score. I’m predicting a home win with over 3.5 goals and the end final score to be 3-1.
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