MX23RW : Tuesday, June 15 03:50:12| >> :600:800577:800577:
Mar 31, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Toumbas
GreeceGreece
1-1
GeorgiaGeorgia
Kakabadze (76' og.)
Fortounis (59'), Papadopoulos (67'), Giakoumakis (71'), Zeca (80')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Kvaratskhelia (78')
Aburjania (15'), Kiteishvili (63'), Kankava (90+1')

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

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's World Cup Qualifying clash between Greece and Georgia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Greece and Georgia will both be aiming to secure their first wins in World Cup Qualifying Group B when they do battle at the Toumba Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The hosts played out a 1-1 draw with Spain in their inaugural game of qualification, whereas Georgia have taken zero points from their first two matches in the group.


Match preview

John van 't Schip in charge of Greece in September 2020© Reuters

Greece's Nations League opponents quickly realised that the Euro 2004 champions cannot be broken down easily, and Spain soon found that out during their showdown last Thursday, as La Roja could only muster a point from their meeting with John van 't Schip's men on matchday one.

Alvaro Morata ensured that Spain would take a 1-0 lead into the half-time interval, but Greece and their fighting spirit restored parity through Anastasios Bakasetas's penalty - only his third ever goal for the country in 35 appearances - and Spain were unable to break through again despite enjoying 80% possession on their own turf.

Van 't Schip's side followed up their impressive performance against Spain with a narrow 2-1 triumph over Honduras in a weekend friendly, during which Vangelis Pavlidis steered his side to victory with a brace, and Greece have now stretched their unbeaten run across all competitions to seven matches.

Furthermore, Van 't Schip's side have only conceded three goals during that time - keeping clean sheets on four occasions - and their home form is all the more impressive, as eight teams have tried and failed to beat Greece on their own turf since Armenia surprisingly did so in June 2019.

A first victory in Group B would help the hosts keep the pressure on faltering Spain and high-flying Sweden at the top of the rankings, but they are not exactly renowned for goal-laden, thrilling affairs, and a fired-up Georgia will feel confident of going toe-to-toe with their opponents after suffering late heartbreak against Spain.

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

Being able to welcome 15,000 supporters to stadiums is nothing more than a pipe dream for most clubs across Europe right now, but the Georgia faithful were treated to a memorable first 45 minutes against Spain as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia drew first blood on the stroke of half time with a well-taken left-footed finish.

However, Luis Enrique's men turned the game on its head in the second 45 minutes as Ferran Torres restored parity just before the hour mark, and Dani Olmo fired in a long-range effort two minutes into second-half injury time to break Georgia hearts, although there were questions over Giorgi Loria's goalkeeping.

Several members of Georgia's playing squad dropped to the ground when the RB Leipzig man's effort went in, as it was another case of close but no cigar for Willy Sagnol's men after their narrow 1-0 defeat to group leaders Sweden on matchday one.

Of course, Sagnol knows what it takes to prevail on the big stage having been part of the France squad to make it to the World Cup final in 2006, but his Georgia team have now gone seven games without a win in all competitions - losing four of their last five - and pipping Sweden, Spain or Greece to a top-two finish is surely a bridge too far for the 89th-ranked nation.

Furthermore, Greece have come up trumps in six of their seven meetings with Georgia since their first encounter in 1996, and this week's hosts scraped a 2-1 win in their most recent showdown back in 2011.

Greece World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • D

Greece form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W

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

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


Team News

Greece's Anastasios Bakasetas celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 25, 2021© Reuters

Thankfully for both Greece and Liverpool, Kostas Tsimikas was fit enough to make the bench at the weekend after suffering an injury against Spain, so he is in with a chance of making the starting lineup this week.

Dinos Mavropanos earned his first start for the national team against Honduras, but the Arsenal centre-back - currently on loan at Stuttgart - is expected to drop out for Kyriakos Papadopoulos this week.

Pavlidis might drop out for Bakasetas despite striking twice against Honduras, while Odysseas Vlachodimos, Michalis Bakakis and Andreas Bouchalakis should all return after being given the night off on Sunday.

Georgia attacker Levan Shengelia received a straight red card for a nasty studs-up tackle on Pedri, but the winger has only appeared as a substitute so far and may have struggled to start either way.

Sagnol will likely be reluctant to make too many changes, but tired legs could force his hand, so Giorgi Kvilitaia is in line to return up top while Nika Kvekveskiri and Grigol Chabradze could reprise their roles in midfield and defence respectively.

Greece possible starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Bakakis, Tzavellas, Papadopoulos, Tsimikas; Zeca, Bouchalakis, Mantalos; Limnios, Bakasetas, Masouras

Georgia possible starting lineup:
Loria; Chabradze, Kashia, Dvali, Giorbelidze; Kankava, Kvekveskiri, Kiteishvilli; Lobjanidze, Kvilitaia, Kvaratskhelia


SM words green background

We say: Greece 1-0 Georgia

It has been nearly two years since Georgia last lost by a margin of two goals or more, and their narrow defeats to Sweden and Spain have embodied the fighting spirit with Sagnol's ranks. However, results are ultimately what matter and Greece have enjoyed plenty of positive ones over their midweek visitors down the years, and while this could be another close affair, we still expect the hosts to triumph.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals 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.Over 1.5:data


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