Preview: Malta vs. Gibraltar

Preview: Malta vs. Gibraltar

Before returning to Euro 2024 qualifying action, European minnows Malta and Gibraltar do battle in an international friendly at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Only 10 nations are placed lower than Gibraltar (198th) in the current FIFA world rankings, while Malta are 27 places above their upcoming opponents in 171st position.

Unsurprisingly, both Malta and Gibraltar are yet to pick up a single point from their opening four Euro 2024 qualifiers, with the former suffering defeats to North Macedonia, holders Italy, England and Ukraine in Group C.

Malta were put to the sword 4-0 at home against England in June before losing 1-0 to Ukraine at a neutral venue in Slovakia, admirably holding the Blue and Yellow until the 72nd minute when Viktor Tsyhankov sealed the win from the penalty spot.

The only victory that has been celebrated by Michele Marcolini’s side since the turn of the year was a slender 1-0 friendly success away against Luxembourg at the beginning of June, courtesy of a second-half strike from Kyrian Nwoko – his fourth goal on the international stage.

Malta – who will return to Euro 2024 qualifying action next Tuesday at home against North Macedonia – enter Wednesday’s friendly contest having failed to win each of their last four home matches in all competitions, failing to score in their last three in the process.

Nevertheless, the Reds will hope to return to winning ways against a Gibraltar side whom they beat 2-0 in their last friendly encounter on home soil in October 2020.

Preview: Malta vs. Gibraltar – prediction, team news, lineups

Gibraltar, meanwhile, are preparing for their first friendly fixture of 2023 after suffering four successive 3-0 defeats in Euro 2024 qualifying against Greece, Netherlands, France and Republic of Ireland in Group B between March and June.

In their most recent fixture on June 19, Los Llanis initially frustrated Ireland at the Aviva Stadium and entered the half-time interval clinging onto a goalless draw, but the hosts turned the screw after the break and goals from Mikey Johnston, Evan Ferguson and Adam Idah eventually helped Stephen Kenny’s side run away with a comfortable victory.

Gibraltar will soon be gearing up for their next Euro 2024 qualifier away against Greece on Sunday, but they will first endeavour to win their first international match since November last year – a 1-0 success at home to Andorra – when they face Malta on Wednesday.

Julio Ribas’s men have only won six of their 72 international games in all competitions since being granted FIFA membership in 2013, including their first-ever victory in a friendly against none other than Malta in June 2014 – a narrow 1-0 home win thanks to a 66th-minute goal from Kyle Casciaro.

Malta friendly form:

Malta form (all competitions):

Gibraltar friendly form:

Gibraltar form (all competitions):

We say: Malta 1-1 Gibraltar
Both nations have experienced challenging Euro 2024 qualifiers so far this year, but they will enter Wednesday’s friendly clash fancying their chances of securing a rare win on the international stage. However, with little to separate these two teams, we believe that the spoils will be shared in a low-scoring draw in Ta’ Qali.

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