UAE -1 Asian Handicap at 1.69 with Bet Victor (min 1.55) - 1 unit
- UAE are flying under Bert van Marwijk, the former Netherlands coach who made it to a WC semi-final is no stranger to navigating the AFC WC qualifiers and is a considerable asset for UAE during this qualification stage.
- In the 2018 WC qualification, he led Saudi Arabia to an automatic qualification spot ahead of Australia before being eventually sacked.
- It seems the KSA were unhappy with Van Marwijk as I didn't want to live in Saudi Arabia permanently.
- Since being re-hired by the UAE, his side have won 6 of 7 games scoring 26 and conceding 4
- Most recently, they have beaten Jordan 5-1, Malaysia 4-0, Thailand 3-1, Indonesia 5-0 and Vietnam 3-2
- Malaysia and Indonesia would be lower-tier Asian footballing nations, but those wins against Jordan, Thailand, and Vietnam looked impressive.
- Let's examine their last game against Vietnam (a superior outfit to Lebanon)
- In that game they dominated possession with over 75% of the ball; they got off 13 attempts on goal totalling 2.43xG
- At the back they practically conceded no worthwhile chances until the 85th minute onwards (they were leading 3-0). Vietnam had two decent chances from that point and scored from both.
- In their other recent game with a similar strength opponent (Thailand), they won 3-1, putting up 1.84xG and conceding 0.63. This was a similar type of game; UAE controlled the game, had the lion's share of the chances, and conceded off the only decent chance allowed.
- UAE will also benefit from a 60% capacity in the stands, I can't be sure, but I doubt there will be much travelling support considering the economic situation in Lebanon plus the COVID controls in UAE
- Lebanon is a country in that has sunk in a dire economic state so I'm not sure how well prepared these players will be, 21 of the players play domestically with a handful of others scattered around Asia
- Their domestic league which was supposed to start in September has been pushed back further to October because of COVID restrictions
- The majority of the squad is made up from players of Shabab Sahel, Ahed, Nejmeh, and Ansar, all of which seemingly haven't played any games since the end of July (assuming fixtures and results on Soccerway.com are accurate)
- Lebanon's last game was a 1-0 over Djibouti in Qatar (Arab Cup). Djibouti are the 5th worst team in Africa (rank 182 in world)
- Prior to that they lost to Korea Republic and Turkmenistan concededing a total of 5 and allowing 4.53xGA
Final word: This is a must win game for UAE, they're at home against the weakest team in the group who haven't played a lot of competitive football in recent months. Expect a better prepared UAE side who dominate.