Sports Mole preview Friday’s Nations League clash between Georgia and North Macedonia, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
The first two places in league C group 4 of UEFA Nations League could be decided on Friday evening how Georgia play host North Macedonia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.
Willy SagnolThe side of is currently on top with 10 points and one point would be enough to confirm promotion to League B, while their opponents are in second place and three points worse.
While Georgia has always been expected to have a World Cup spot out of reach, Willy Sagnol’s squad has maintained the momentum from their last two qualifying victories over Kosovo and Sweden and could extend their unbeaten streak to an impressive 10 games this week.
The Crusaders opened their new season in the Nations League with three straight wins before suffering a goalless draw against Bulgaria in their most recent clash, but their fate in League B is in their own hands before they face Gibraltar on Matchday 6 meet in the basement.
With 10 points from a possible 12, Georgia only need a draw to secure promotion to League B thanks to the head-to-head points rule and they will stay top of the table even if they lose this week, provided North Macedonia do cannot assert a lead of four goals or more.
Former France international Sagnol, a staunch defender in his prime, will have been delighted with his side’s rear guard. In his last nine games, he has kept seven clean sheets in all competitions, conceding just three goals in that span.
That impressive defensive streak also includes four straight shut-outs on home soil despite having won just one of their last five Nations League games in front of their own fans and North Macedonia will not give up the ghost easily.
The Tbilisi visitors began life in the Nations League in the doldrums of League D, but a place in League B for the next cycle remains a possibility Blagoja Milevskiwho will also round off their competition campaign for the year in September.
Victory over European champions Italy in the World Cup play-offs will long be remembered for the Lions, but attempting to defeat Portugal at the final hurdle was a step too far and a dream location in Qatar ultimately eluded them.
Back-to-back victories over hapless Gibraltar have helped North Macedonia stay alive in the battle for promotion as they edged past Los Llanis 4-0 last time out thanks to goals Enis Bardi, Bojan Miovski, Darko Churlinov and Graem TorrillaOwn goal – all in the first half.
After two 1-1 draws in the 2020-21 Nations League, North Macedonia secured their historic place at Euro 2020 thanks to a 1-0 win over Georgia in the play-off final, but Sagnol’s side emerged 3-0 victorious sides banged heads back in June.
Georgia Nations League Form:
Georgian form (all competitions):
Form of North Macedonia Nations League:
Form North Macedonia (all competitions):
Georgia and Dinamo Tbilisi defenders Ever Tabidze was forced to pull out of the squad for the September games due to injury, but otherwise Sagnol was expected to work with his strongest squad available.
Napoli star boy Khvicha Kvarachelia could be joined by a Bordeaux loanee Suriko Davitashvili – also only 21 years old – in the last third, while Guram Kashia should lead the team from behind.
Should Kashia play in both games in September, the 35-year-old would become only the third man to earn 100 caps for the Georgia national team Levan Kobiashvili and Slovan Bratislava teammate Jaba Kankava.
As for North Macedonia, Captain Stefan Ristowski is one of three injury-related departures, as Churlinov and midfielder with an international cap Valon Ethemi have also withdrawn from the squad for the games in September.
Erdal Rakip and former Arsenal goalkeeper Deyan Ilyev are among those absent through injury, but a recognizable team should still have players like Ezgjan Alioski and Elif Elmas.
Striker is close to his 80th cap for the national team Aleksandar Trajkowski – who was absent against Gibraltar – should lead the line as he looks to build on his 20-goal tally for the national team.
Georgia possible starting line-up:
Loria; Khocholawa, Kvirkvelia, Kashia; Kakabadze, Kvekveskiri, Aburjania, Azarovi; Kvarachelia, Davitashvili; Mikautadze
North Macedonia possible starting line-up:
Dimitrievsky; Todoroski, Musliu, Velkowski, Alioski; Elmas, Spirowski; Trajkovski, Bardhi, Ashkovski; Ristowski
We say: Georgia 2:1 North Macedonia
Expect an open encounter with plenty of action in goal area as there will be differences in quality on the field for both teams this week, especially with a much-coveted promotion down the line.
However, the defense of Sagnol’s men could make all the difference and while the hosts might not secure another comfortable 3-0 win, we have faith in Georgia prevailing and confirming their place in League B at the expense of North Macedonia.
For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, goal scores and more for this game, please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com predict under 3.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they predict for this game and for more of their tried and true football tips.Under 3.5:Data