International match predictions

Crunch Time

Crunch time has arrived with the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers upon us. 

England can escape from group F whilst Scotland still could deny the Three Lions that chance come Sunday. If not, a play off spot is up for grabs for the Scots.

Over in group C, Northern Ireland can take Germany down to the wire with victory setting up a last round battle for automatic qualification. 

 

FIFA WC 2018 logo
FIFA World Cup 2018 logo, FIFA (http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/destination/cities/city=1559/index.html)

 

Scotland vs Slovakia

The Auld Enemy enter this match knowing that victory coupling with England defeating Slovenia will place them in pole position to qualify for the play offs.

Star striker, Leigh Griffiths could however not feature due to recurring calf issues. Scotland manager, Gordon Strachan however is insisting otherwise as reported by BBC Sport.

Speaking at his press conference, the ex Boro boss said; “there is nothing wrong with him”.

Slovakia however bolster a squad that include ex Liverpool star, Martin Skrtel and Napoli’s Marek Hamsik.

This is only the second meeting between these teams so can’t read too much into this.

Scotland however lost the away leg in Slovakia 3-0, during a period when Strachan’s position was in question. 

Now that they have bounced back and got home advantage, I am expecting them to produce a positive display and edge this. 

Prediction: Scotland 2-1 Slovakia

Result: Scotland 1-0 Slovakia

 

England vs Slovenia 

England know that a win here will seal their place in Russia next summer. Failure to do so and they will need victory on Sunday, otherwise the play offs could be looming next month. 

Tottenham’s Harry Kane is captain but has to make do without his teammate, Dele Alli who is serving a one match suspension. 

Slovenia however are yet to beat England at Wembley, having lost 2-1 in a 2009 friendly. Five years later, they were comfortably battered 3-1 making this a tough ask. 

What is worse is that England are unbeaten in competitive games at Wembley since they failed to qualify for UEFA Euros 2008. That is nearly a decade long record to try and smash. 

If Slovenia are going to get anything here, they have to ‘park the bus’ and press hard to keep Kane out.

Kane scored 13 goals last month across domestic and international matches, making him the main threat here for Slovenia’s defence to try and keep up with. 

The Spurs’ striker is also the Three Lions’ top scorer under Southgate just to assert how key he will be to the result. 

This match looks like it will be a comfortable home win for England. Factor in Kane’s form and I think a battering could be in store. 

Prediction: England 3-0 Slovenia

Result: England 1-0 Slovenia (England QUALIFY as GROUP F WINNERS!!!)

 

Northern Ireland vs Germany

Victory for Northern Ireland will take Group C’s automatic qualification spot to a decider on Sunday.

NI has 19 points whilst Germany are top with 24 points. A home win will cut the gap down to two points ahead of their final game in Norway.

The reigning world champions however are home to Azerbaijan on Sunday night, which should be a comfortable win to seal their place in Russia.

Germany however are yet to lose a single World Cup qualifier in their history.

They are also expected to feature Premier League stars including; Leroy Sane, Mesut Ozil and Emre Can.

The Irish side have to bare in mind that several players including Stuart Dallas and the Evans brothers (Jonny & Corry) are one yellow away from suspension.

With that in mind, I think this could swing this match the way of the Germans sadly but will be tight.

Prediction: Northern Ireland 1-2 Germany

Result: Northern Ireland 1-3 Germany

 

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