With 54 World Cup qualifiers taking place between Thursday 03 October and Tuesday 11 October, there’s plenty of international football action on offer this month. All four home nations are set to play this weekend too – so which of them has the best chance of securing a win?
England vs Malta – How Will the Three Lions Perform?
England take on Malta on Saturday, having already secured their first Group F win, a 1-0 victory over Slovakia, but the recent departure of Sam Allardyce is sure to have shaken the squad. If the attitude of England left-back Danny Rose is anything to go by, however, they’ll be fired up to perform well.
“Everyone – the players, the manager and all the staff – we’ve got to take it on ourselves to try to lift the opinion of English football over the next few games,” Rose told the BBC.
The Three Lions, who will be managed by U21s’ boss, Gareth Southgate, for this and their following three ties, have a great opportunity to gain some points this weekend too. They’re playing on home soil and have beaten Malta in their three previous meetings.
Northern Ireland vs San Marino – Will the Green and White Army Triumph?
Northern Ireland, in Group C, will be hoping to put in a more impressive performance against San Marino than they did against the Czech Republic in September. On paper, Michael O’Neill’s team did well to secure a draw but, in reality, they failed to sparkle against a lacklustre opposition.
They’ll have the home advantage on Saturday, however, and their record against San Marino suggests a win could be on the cards. The teams have met twice before in World Cup qualifiers, and Northern Ireland were victorious both times.
Scotland vs Lithuania – Can Scotland Seal a Second Qualifying Win?
The Scots who, like England, are in Group F, beat Malta 5 -1 in their first qualifying match, and they’ll be keen to add some more points to their haul on Saturday when they take on Lithuania at Hampden Park.
Prior to the Malta tie, Steven Thompson, the former Scottish international player, stressed the need for the team to get their campaign off to a flying start if they want to reach the finals in Russia and battle for the famous football trophy:
“We need six points going into a double header against Slovakia – who showed at the Euros they are a very good side – and then England,” he told the BBC. “There is a possibility we might get nothing from those two games.”
The teams’ head to head record is certainly in Scotland’s favour – they’ve defeated Lithuania on five of the eight occasions they’ve met them, with two matches ending in a draw.
Wales vs Georgia – Will the Dragons’ Run of Form Continue?
On Sunday, just three days after their second Group D qualifying match, against Austria, Wales take on Georgia at Cardiff City Stadium. Beating Moldova by 4-0 in their first qualifier certainly put Wales in a great position for this stage of their World Cup campaign.
Although the Welsh have lost on the three previous occasions that the teams have met, Georgia has never made it through to the final stages of a major tournament, while Wales have been in fantastic form. Georgia sealed a surprise victory against Spain earlier this year, however, so the result certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion.
Which of the home nations do you think will make it to Russia for the World Cup finals? Leave us a comment below.
FIFA World Cup 2018 - Which Home Nations Will Triumph in This Weekend's Qualifying Matches?
It's a busy weekend for the UK Home Nations. How do you think they'll do, and will they qualify for World Cup 2018? Read on . . .