MX23RW : Sunday, October 17 04:56:33| >> :600:498131:498131:
Sep 2, 2021 at 5pm UK

Kashia (62'), Khotcholava (77'), Chabradze (88')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Muriqi (18')
Berisha (25'), Kastrati (62'), Kryeziu (90+6')

Preview: Georgia vs. Kosovo - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Georgia and Kosovo, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The bottom two nations in UEFA World Cup Qualifying Group B convene on Thursday, as Georgia host pointless Kosovo in Batumi.

Both looking for a first win of the process, the pair are outsiders in a challenging section also containing Spain, Sweden and Greece.

Match preview

Georgia's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia celebrates scoring their first goal on March 28, 2021© Reuters

As they prepare to get their attempt at reaching Qatar 2022 back under way, Georgia hope to finally pick up three points after some near-misses during European qualifying so far.

The Jvarosnebi enjoyed a memorable opening half against 2008 world champions Spain, as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia put them ahead just before the break, before Luis Enrique's team turned the game around after the interval - Ferran Torres and Dani Olmo ultimately crushing Georgian dreams of a glorious upset.

That loss came following their narrow 1-0 defeat to Sweden on the opening day, with another close call coming in their most recent outing against Greece at the end of March.

Nearing the end of a closely-fought 90 minutes, Willy Sagnol's men went behind through an unfortunate own goal, but Rubin Kazan striker Kvaratskhelia struck again to salvage a 1-1 draw and earn his team's first point of the campaign.

However, their failure to post a first victory amid a testing run of fixtures means that Georgia have now gone eight games without a win in all competitions - losing four of their last six.

Sagnol will now preside over a minor moment of history, as his adopted nation have never met relative newcomers Kosovo in UEFA competition before, and - ranked 24 places above their visitors in the current world rankings - they should be favourites to capitalise on home advantage on Thursday.

Sweden's Viktor Claesson in action with Kosovo's Benjamin Kololli on March 28, 2021© Reuters

Having suffered a pair of chastening defeats to start their Group B campaign, Kosovo return to competitive action following a number of post-season friendlies in June, which helped rebuild confidence after a sticky patch for the diminutive Balkan nation.

After Sweden cruised to a 3-0 victory over the squad managed by Bernard Challandes, group leaders Spain brushed them aside in Seville.

Two goals to the good at half-time, La Roja ultimately ran out 3-1 winners by the final whistle, with Besar Halimi's 70th-minute strike proving little more than a consolation but at least getting Kosovo off the goalscoring mark before the break in proceedings.

In the intervening period, the Dardanet took part in a series of friendlies - beating San Marino, Malta and Gambia, but losing to Guinea - designed to help them overcome a difficult period and build for the challenges ahead.

Kosovo previously endured a trying Nations League campaign, when they finished a distant third in their group, and are on a nine-game winless run away from home in competitive football - last beating Bulgaria, in June 2019.

Their first attempt to qualify for the World Cup four years ago saw them come up short too, and while established players such as Milot Rashica and Vedat Muriqi - the country's all-time top scorer - can present Georgia with some problems in the final third, the Kosovars are unlikely to be packing their bags for the Middle East in late 2022.

Georgia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L
  • L
  • D

Georgia form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Kosovo World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L
  • L

Kosovo form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Vedat Muriqi celebrates scoring on September 7, 2019© Reuters

Though Kosovo will be without Bernard Berisha and former Switzerland Under-21 midfielder Hekuran Kryeziu through suspension on Thursday, head coach Bernard Challandes - a former Swiss youth team manager - has his main men available for the trip to Georgia.

Lazio striker Vedat Muriqi will lead the line in Batumi, while former Torino goalkeeper Samir Ujkani captains the side from between the posts.

As against Spain, in their last qualifying match, Kosovo will rely on Norwich forward Milot Rashica to support target man Muriqi, with Bersant Celina running the midfield.

Georgia winger Levan Shengelia received a straight red card for a heavy challenge on Pedri when they met La Roja, so continues his suspension this week.

Meanwhile, the scorer of both their goals so far, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, is carrying an injury and will not feature for Willy Sangnol's side, whose selected strikers have just seven international goals between them from a collective 33 appearances.

Georgia possible starting lineup:
Loria; Chabradze, Kashia, Khocholava, Giorbelidze; Kankava, Daushvili, Kiteishvilli; Lobzhanidze, Kvilitaia, Mikautadze

Kosovo possible starting lineup:
Ujkani; Hadergjonaj, Rrahmani, Vojvoda, Aliti; Voca, Berisha; Rashica, Halimi, Kastrati; Muriqi

SM words green background

We say: Georgia 2-1 Kosovo

Both sides are desperate to get a victory under their belt this week, but home advantage should help Georgia edge out a Kosovo team comprising some talented ball-players by a fine margin.

Though passage to the World Cup remains a pipe dream, the two nations are capable of some progressive football and have pushed better-resourced teams close - so an entertaining match could be in prospect.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Draw:data

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