Spain – Albania (World Cup 2018)
Spain and Albania will face each other this Friday at the José Rico Pérez Stadium, in Alicante, for the 9th round of Group G for the 2018 World Cup qualification. The Spaniards arrive here in fantastic form, possessing a squad with exorbitant quality and talent, and are also at the top of Group G with 3 points clear of 2nd place. Albania, on their turn, arrives here just to meet schedule, not having chances of stealing the 2nd spot from Italy.
Spain are 1st placed in Group G with 22 points, result of 7 wins and 1 draw, with 32 goals scored and 3 goals conceded. The Spaniards come here looking to redeem themselves for their poor performance in the last World Cup, in 2014, where they failed to go beyond the group stage at a time when they were the World Champions in title, having won the World Cup 2010. The Spanish squad overflows quality and talent, with several players representing some of the best teams in the world.
The Fury’s backbone is very well formed, starting with De Gea in goal, with defenders like Sergio Ramos, Piqué, Alba, etc, midfielders like Isco, Thiago Alcântara, David Silva, Asensio, among others, and forwards like Pedro Rodrigo, Callejón, etc. Morata and Diego Costa are out for this next two matches. With a huge goal difference comparing to Italy, a victory here would see Spain qualify to the World Cup as group leader, leaving Italy in the play-off spot.
In their 4 official matches played this year, Spain has record of 4 victories. This sequence of results began with 4-1 win over Israel. This result was followed by 1-2 win against Macedonia, a 3-0 victory over Italy, and in their last round, a 0-8 win against Liechtenstein.
Probable Lineup: Gea – Odriozola, Piqué, Ramos and Alba – Busquets, David Silva and Thiago – Isco, Callejón and Asensio.
Albania, on their turn, are in 3rd place with 13 points, result of 4 wins, 1 draw and 3 defeats, with 10 goals scored and 9 goals conceded. The Albanians arrive here only to meet schedule, and although it is still mathematically possible to match Italy in points, of Albania wins these next to matches and the Italians lose both of them, the goal difference is already to big between the two national teams, reducing exponentially the chances of Albania to qualify. There are some well-known names on this team, especially in the back, with Atalanta goalkeeper Berisha, and defenders Hysaj and Mavraj, Naples and Hamburg, respectively.
In their last 4 official matches played this year, Albania has a record of 2 victories, 1 draw and 1 defeat. This sequence of results started with a 2-0 defeat against Italy. This result was followed by a 0-3 victory over Israel, a 2-0 victory over Lichtenstein, and in their last round, a 1-1 draw against Macedonia.
Probable Lineup: Berisha – Hysaj, Ajeti, Mavraj and Agolli – Kukeli, Lila and Hyka – Roshi, Sadiku and Llullaku.
Spain won the only direct clash played in the last 24 years.
Spain has a squad of extreme quality, very well organized at the back and deadly up front, so expect another strong victory from the Spaniards.