Preview: Malta vs Northern Ireland
Sports Mole presents Sunday’s international friendlies between Malta and Northern Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
North Ireland travel to Austria on Sunday where they will face Malta in an international friendly match.
Ian baracloughThe team were due to face Turkey on Monday, but that game was called off after Turkey was added to the UK government’s red list for travel, and that game has also been postponed to start 25 hours earlier than scheduled.
Malta made three appearances in the March international break and claimed their first point of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, but remain bottom of Group H after the first round of matches.
Their first game in the qualifying campaign saw Malta host Russia and the away team came away with three points after Joseph mbongThe strike was not enough to organize a comeback for the home side, which ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat.
An improved result came three days later when Mangia quoteThe team drew 2-2 with Slovakia, but after Luke Gambin and Alexandre satariano put Malta 2-0 in the first 20 minutes, they will be disappointed to have surrendered that lead.
The last time at the end of March, they visited Croatia, which was too strong for Malta and came out on top 3-0 after goals from Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and Josip brekalo.
Mangia’s side will have to wait until September for their next World Cup qualifier as the nation has never managed to qualify for a major international tournament.
Northern Ireland are in bad shape, having failed to win a match in 90 minutes since October 2019 and have missed out on a place in the Euros this summer following an overtime loss to Slovakia in the playoffs.
Baraclough’s side have made two appearances in their World Cup qualifying campaign, recording one loss and one draw in the opener.
In the first week of Group C matchup, Northern Ireland traveled to Italy where they suffered a 2-0 defeat after first-half goals from Domenico Berardi and Ciro Immobile.
Their last game was against Bulgaria and, despite dominating possession and creating more chances, Northern Ireland had to settle for a point after a goalless draw at Windsor Park.
This game against Malta is the first of a double header of friendlies for Baraclough’s side, as it unfolds before they face Ukraine on Thursday.
Malta international friendlies form:
Malta form (all competitions):
Northern Ireland International Friendlies Form:
Northern Ireland (all competitions):
Mangia tends to favor a 3-4-2-1 formation and the last three have recently lined up with Steve borg and Kurt shaw on each side of Enrico Pepe at the heart of defense.
Mbong has scored a goal and an assist in Malta’s first three appearances in Group H of the World Cup qualifiers and he is likely to win his 29th cap on Sunday.
As for Northern Ireland, they will be without top leaders Jonny evans, because he is treating a foot injury, and the captain Steven davis, who is resting after a long season that saw him become Britain’s most successful men’s international.
Liverpool right-back, 17 Conor Bradley received his first senior call-up with Chelsea Under-23 center-back Sam mcclelland, both representing Northern Ireland at youth level.
Familiar faces included in the squad for this month’s games are Kyle lafferty, Craig cathcart, Paddy mcnair and Niall McGinn.
Possible departure formula in Malta:
Bonello; Borg, Pepe, Shaw; Camenzuli, Kristensen, Guillaumier, Mbong; Pisani, Teuma; Satariano
Possible start list for Northern Ireland:
Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Cathcart, McNair, Ballard; Saville, McGinn, McCann, Whyte; Magennis, Lafferty
We say: Malta 1-1 Northern Ireland
With the absence of key members like Evans and Davis, it will be difficult for Northern Ireland to change form in this month’s friendlies and for now the two sides are fairly even.
Our expert partners on Sporita.com predict more than 1.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they are planning for this game and for more of their proven soccer tips.Over 1.5: data