By News Team
26th March 2021
The international break continues this weekend with two World Cup qualifiers and two international friendlies for the Home Nations.
We take a look at those four fixtures.
Fiesta in Cardiff?
Wales started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a tough ask, travelling to the number one-ranked side in international football. However, they left that fixture far from disgraced, taking an unexpected early lead with an attacking combination effort from Gareth Bale, Conor Roberts, and Harry Wilson.
The visitors soon gave way to the strength of the Belgian side and with that came their first defeat in a competitive match since June 2019. Belgium however extended their unbeaten home record in competitive matches since 2010 and with it solidified their credentials for likely World Cup favourites.
Wales will host Mexico in an international friendly against Mexico for the first time in Cardiff, however the two sides have met five times before and the last time the two sides met ended in a goalless draw back in 2018. The visitors go into the fixture the 10/11 favourites while Wales’ chances are at 16/5.
The hosts will be hopeful that the injuries they picked up in Belgium won’t hamper their chances and they can register their first win against Mexico.
England to continue winning ways in Albania?
England’s World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a predictably routine victory against San Marino at Wembley with a 5-0 victory. It will be difficult to reflect too much on the victory given the quality of the opposition but there were certainly aspects to be critical of. The hosts were not as ruthless in front of goal as they could have been and Gareth Southgate’s side will certainly want to put that right ahead of this fixture.
Albania were also victorious in their opening fixture beating Andorra 1-0 in a very one-sided fixture, registering 74% possession and 14 shots. As they welcome England in Tirana it will be the first time the two sides have met since 2001 which resulted in England winning 2-0.
To register their first win against England, Albania are priced at 10/1 while England are 2/7 to get the job done. A draw has never happened between the two sides and is a 4/1 chance to happen for the first time this weekend.
England will be expecting another straightforward result here and with some more clinical finishing, Southgate’s men should do just that as the odds suggest. England to win both halves is prices at 9/4 and looks a good chance given the likely dominating and holding tactics that will be on display.
Scotland to bounce back in Tel Aviv?
Scotland came out of their opening fixture against Austria with a point in a 2-2 draw with thanks to John McGinn’s later overhead equaliser. The result ended a run of back-to-back defeats for the Scottish side, and they will be now hopeful they can go one better against Israel.
Israel succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Denmark in their opening game, although the game wasn’t as one sided as the score line suggests. Registering 50% possession and 14 shots the hosts could have been looking back on a different result had they been more clinical in front of goal.
The two sides will know a lot about their opponents heading into this weekend as the two sides faced each other twice last year in the UEFA Nations League. The first of those fixtures ended in a goalless draw while Israel recorded a 1-0 win in the second game.
It looks that this will be a tight fixture that can go either way with both sides hoping to get their campaigns back on track. Scotland are the 8/5 favourites to get the result in Tel Aviv while the hosts are a 9/5 chance, the odds are suggesting that this one could go either way.
Ian Baraclough to break his duck against USA?
Northern Ireland suffered another defeat under Baraclough taking them to nine games under his control without a win. It was always going to be a tough ask to break the duck against a resurgent Italian side who are now unbeaten in 23, but Northern Ireland will be hopeful that this friendly fixture against the USA will be the one to kick on from.
Northern Ireland were far from disgraced in their performance in Parma and are certainly capable of building on some of the positives in this fixture against the USA. It will be the first time Northern Ireland have hosted the Stars and Stripes at Windsor Park and will be hopeful of celebrating the occasion with a win.
The hosts are currently priced at XX to get the job done before heading back into competitive action against Bulgaria, while the visitors are a XX chance. The hosts were bold with their tactics in the last game with a 3-5-2 formation and Baraclough will presumably look to display a dominant structure once again against this weaker side, if he does and the Norther Ireland side turn up in equally spirited fashion, the wait could be over for that so far elusive first win.