MX23RW : Monday, October 25 03:39:12| >> :600:1254207:1254207:
Sep 1, 2021 at 7.45pm UK
Gutkovskis (50' pen., 85'), Cigaņiks (89')
Cernomordijs (39')
FT(HT: 0-0)
De Barr (71' pen.)
Bosio (6'), Annesley (38'), Luis Chipolina (90+6')

Preview: Latvia vs. Gibraltar - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Latvia and Gibraltar, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Latvia and Gibraltar square off on Wednesday, as both nations look to record their first victory of the World Cup Qualifying campaign.

The hosts have collected just one point from their opening three games, while their visitors have suffered three straight defeats to sink to the foot of the group.

Match preview

Latvia coach Dainis Kazakevics pictured on March 27, 2021© Reuters

In the first round of qualifying fixtures in March, Latvia began with a home clash against Montenegro, and they were handed a narrow defeat in Riga.

Janis Ikaunieks put them ahead late in the first half, but Montenegrin star Stevan Jovetic immediately drew the visitors level, before he netted the winner in the final 10 minutes to take all three points.

Dainis Kazakevics's men then faced the particularly tough test of a trip to take on the Netherlands, and goals from Steven Berghuis and Luuk de Jong either side of the break condemned them to a 2-0 defeat following a dominant performance from the Oranje.

Having done well to avoid a noticeably heavy defeat in Amsterdam, 11 Vilki returned to Qualifying action with another difficult clash against Turkey, and Kazakevics's side earned a commendable point following a 3-3 draw, as Roberts Uldrikis and Davis Ikaunieks hit second-half goals after Kenan Karaman, Hakan Calhanoglu and Burak Yilmaz gave the pre-game favourites a seemingly comfortable lead.

While they will be encouraged by that performance and result against a strong outfit, Latvia do not come into the upcoming games in a strong run of form, as the recent round of fixtures produced a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany, before a Mattias Kait brace condemned them to a 2-1 defeat to Estonia in the Baltic Cup.

Kazakevics's men will now look to begin the new set of fixtures with their first victory of the group stage, as they aim to reach the World Cup for the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

They welcome a Gibraltar side who are yet to pick up a point, and will be keen to get off the mark on Wednesday.

Gibraltar coach Julio Cesar Ribas pictured on March 27, 2021© Reuters

Gibraltar began the World Cup Qualifying campaign with a home clash against Norway, and goals from Alexander Sorloth, Kristian Thorstvedt and Jonas Svensson saw them handed a 3-0 defeat.

Julio Cesar Ribas's side then made the trip to Montenegro, and while Reece Styche drew them level with a penalty after Fatos Beciraj's opener, Marko Simic, Zarko Tomasevic and Stevan Jovetic all found the net to fire the hosts to a 4-1 victory.

They had another difficult day at the office in the most recent qualifying game in March, as a Memphis Depay brace and goals from Steven Berghuis, Luuk de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Donyell Malen and Donny van de Beek condemned them to a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of group favourites Netherlands.

The latest round of friendlies in June saw Ribas's men handed a 6-0 defeat by Slovenia, before they played out a goalless draw with Andorra in their most recent game, meaning you now have to go back more than 10 months for Los Llanis' last victory, when they defeated Liechtenstein 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League.

Gibraltar will now look to break that drought and put their first three points on the board in the qualifying group, as they push for their first appearance at a major tournament.

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

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

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

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

Team News

Gibraltar's Reece Styche celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 27, 2021© Reuters

The Latvia line will be led by Roberts Uldrikis, who has started as a lone striker in all three of their World Cup Qualifying games so far and found the net in their recent draw with Turkey.

At the other end of the pitch, Marcis Oss and Antonijs Cernomordijs seem to have formed an established centre-back pairing, and they should both feature on Wednesday.

Midfielder Arturs Zjuzins boasts some of the most experience in the side, with 47 international caps to his name, while attacker Janis Ikaunieks has already netted seven goals in 35 appearances for his country.

The majority of the Gibraltar side play domestic football in their home nation, other than three that play in England, with 21-year-old Louie Annesley pushing to break into the Blackburn Rovers squad, while experienced forward Reece Styche turns out for seventh-tier Hednesford Town.

His opportunities have been limited by the development of exciting attacker Tjay De Barr, who recently signed for Wycombe Wanderers, and hit an injury-time equaliser and the winning penalty in the shootout on his debut in their EFL Cup clash with Stevenage.

Lincoln Red Imps defender Scott Wiseman brings plenty of experience to the back line, having had a successful career in England with spells at the likes of Rochdale, Barnsley, Preston North End, Scunthorpe United and Salford City.

Latvia possible starting lineup:
Steinbors; Savalnieks, Oss, Cernomordijs, Jurkovskis; Tobers, Zjuzins; Kamess, Ikaunieks, Ciganiks; Uldrikis

Gibraltar possible starting lineup:
Coleing; Sergeant, Chipolina, Wiseman, Mouelhi, Jolley; Walker, Annesley, Ronan, Casciaro; De Barr

SM words green background

We say: Latvia 2-0 Gibraltar

Given their stronger squad and commendable start to the group, we see Latvia securing their first three-point haul on Wednesday.

Gibraltar have fallen well short in all three of their games so far, and we do not expect them to take a result off a Latvia side who have tended to punch above their weight.

Top tip

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