Time to relax

The final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers so for those already qualified or eliminated, now is the time to relax.

England and Northern Ireland can afford that luxury in groups F & C but Scotland are fighting to keep the Russian dream alive.


Slovenia vs Scotland 

Gordon Strachan’s side enter this match knowing that victory will send them into next month’s play offs.

Slovenia on other hand need a near miracle by winning here and hoping that Slovakia lose to Malta.

The Scots have a big advantage in knowing that they’re unbeaten against their hosts. In four previous meetings, they have won two and drawn the other two.

Interestingly, the last meeting in Slovenia was also the final match in a World Cup qualifying tournament. That was 12 years ago and Scotland ran riot in a 3-0 win.

With so much in the balance and victory a must, both teams can’t afford to draw this 0-0.

This probably gives Scotland the edge given their strong record in this fixture.

Slovenia are however yet to concede a goal at home all campaign, which surely has to end here and I see that costing them.

Prediction: Slovenia 0-1 Scotland

Result: Slovenia 2-2 Scotland (Scotland DON’T qualify for play offs!!!)


Lithuania vs England

Having already qualified, England can afford to experiment here.

Jack Butland will start in goal but I am hoping to see Harry Maguire, Aaron Creswell and Harry Winks given a start alongside Jermain Defoe.

Dele Alli will definitely start this game, having sat out Thursday’s win under suspension.

What I want to see from this game is more energy, better finishing and a solid defence that can deliver.

Do that and I think, the Three Lions are going to enter the upcoming friendlies on a roaring note.

Prediction: Lithuania 0-2 England

Result: Lithuania 0-1 England


Norway vs Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland are already qualified and nearly into the play offs so can afford to rest players.

Michael O’Neil plans to field a strong team but is this  a wise decision?

Six players including; Stuart Dallas, Josh Magennis, Oliver Norwood, Jonny & Corry Evans are all one yellow away from suspension.

Given that they could any of Sweden, Denmark or Italy amongst others in the two legged play-offs, logic would dictate resting these players so are available for at least the first leg.

Instead, I would give Tom Flanagan, George Saville and Shay McCartan a start amongst the fringe players.

Norway are missing a key player in Joshua King with injury so expect them to experiment themselves.

Should Greece not win their first game of the International fortnight, the Irish will be confirmed as in play offs.

If not, I expect them to produce a win here regardless of who is put out there.

Prediction: Norway 0-2 Northern Ireland

Result: Norway 1-0 Northern Ireland


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