EUROPE: World Cup – Qualification
Time: 7:45 PM
Venue: National Arena Toshe Proeski (Skopje)
Sitting second in World Cup Qualification (WCQ) Group J after seven matches, North Macedonia are in a three-way battle with Romania and Armenia to see who can clinch a top-two finish behind leaders Germany. Unbeaten in their last six WCQ fixtures (W3, D3) after losing their opening match, the hosts will again be hoping to upset ‘Die Mannschaft’ here after pulling off a shock 2-1 victory on German soil on matchday three.
After featuring at Euro 2020, North Macedonia are gunning to make only their second major finals appearance as an independent nation, and picking up any sort of positive result here could be vital with a showdown vs Armenia on the horizon. As a result, they’ll again be reliant on their forward line which has netted 2.14 goals on average per fixture during this WCQ cycle.
Germany avoided another embarrassing home WCQ loss last time out as they came from 0-1 down against Romania to eventually leave Hamburg with a 2-1 victory thanks to a late Thomas Müller strike. That win extended their lead at the top of Group J to six points over North Macedonia, although that goal conceded was the first under new boss Hansi Flick after four internationals.
In this clash, Germany will be out to avenge that shock 2-1 home loss to North Macedonia back in March, and have since won all four of their following WCQ outings. Three of those victories came ‘to nil’, whilst they also netted 3.5 goals on average per fixture during that stint, all of which points towards a potential big away victory here as Germany march towards their 20th World Cup finals appearance.
Players to watch: North Macedonia’s Eljif Elmas could be the man to break the visitors’ defences as he netted the winner in that famous H2H upset. Germany’s Serge Gnabry netted last time out; the Bayern winger now has six goal contributions in his last seven WCQ matches (5G, 1A).
- North Macedonia’s form in last 5 matches: WDDDL.
- Germany’s form in last 5 matches: WWWWL.
PREDICTION: Draw/Away and Over 1.5