MX23RW : Friday, July 30 03:05:03| >> :600:4637351:4637351:
Mar 25, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Rheinpark Stadion
LiechtensteinLiechtenstein
0-1
ArmeniaArmenia

Frick (45+3'), Hofer (82')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Frommelt (83' og.)
Bayramyan (31'), Adamyan (49'), Hambardzumyan (73')

Preview: Liechtenstein vs. Armenia - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Ranked 181st in the world, little Liechtenstein begin another uphill struggle in Group J of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers on Thursday, as they host Armenia, who may harbour ambitions of a top-two finish.

The Armenians know that only the group winners - most probably Germany - are guaranteed progress to the finals, but they have already secured a shot at the playoffs courtesy of their Nations League success late last year.


Match preview

Armenia's Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates scoring their second goal in September 2019© Reuters

Armenia, coached by former Sevilla supremo Joaquin Caparros, come into this qualifying campaign still basking in the acclaim from their promotion to Nations League B for the 2022-23 season, which also earned the world's 99th-ranked nation a playoff ticket to qualify for Qatar.

Finishing ahead of Euro 2020 finalists North Macedonia in their group last autumn - by virtue of a hard-fought 1-0 win over their closest challengers in the final game - the side usually captained by all-time top scorer Henrikh Mkhitaryan achieved perhaps their greatest feat since becoming an independent football nation in the 1990s.

Since captaining his country for the first time in 2013, Roma star Mkhitaryan has been the standard-bearer for Armenian football - enjoying spells in the Bundesliga, Premier League and, currently, Serie A. However, another ill-timed injury means he will miss out on this month's opening skirmishes of the group phase.

Last October, Armenia had to play their designated 'home' games in Poland, due to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, and subsequently drew with both Georgia and Estonia. Yet, even without their talisman Mkhitaryan - also injured at that time - coach Caparros and company managed to beat Georgia in Tbilisi, before stunning Euro 2020 finalists North Macedonia in the unfamiliar surrounds of Cyprus.

Those wins not only ensured Armenia's Nations League promotion, but also meant they were awarded a guaranteed World Cup playoff ticket as a result.

Such dreams of making it to the big-time show in Qatar next year are pure fantasy for their opening opponents, however.

Finishing second behind Gibraltar in their League D Nations League group, Liechtenstein could only post a solitary win - over perennial thrashing candidates San Marino - in their most recent international campaign.

Picking up just two goals and two points from their section during qualification for Euro 2020 too - with a final goal difference of -29 from their 10 games - the tiny nation's status as footballing minnows is almost unsurpassed.

Martin Stocklasa's men welcome their counterparts from the Caucasus to the Rheinpark Stadium on Thursday night having tasted victory just once from their last 18 outings and suffered losses to both Malta and Gibraltar last autumn.

The principality's capital city of Vaduz has been far from a stronghold for the hosts either, as they prepare to face Armenia having failed to even score in their four most recent home fixtures. In fact, the last time Liechtenstein managed to hit the net on home soil was in a 1-1 draw with the Armenians in October 2019.

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

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


Team News

Henrikh Mkhitaryan in action for Roma on January 3, 2021© Reuters

Having missed out on one of his young nation's finest achievements last autumn through injury, Roma playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has again been ruled out of action for a minimum of three weeks with a leg injury and will not join Armenia's team for the upcoming matches against Liechtenstein, Iceland and Romania.

Edgar Babayan, of Latvian side Riga, and Astana's Tigran Barseghyan are therefore likely to be shouldered with the creative burden for the visitors, with Bundesliga forward Sargis Adamyan and veteran Aleksandr Karapetian leading the attack.

Son of former Serie A striker Mario Frick - still the nation's all-time top scorer, with 16 goals - teenage forward Noah Frick could start up front for Liechtenstein, after scoring against Gibraltar last time out upon receiving just his fourth cap for the senior side.

He is joined in the team by older brother Yanick Frick, who most probably will start on the wing for Martin Stocklasa's men.

A Swiss Super League regular with FC Thun, Nicolas Hasler is the principality's top scorer among still-active players, on five goals, and is expected to play in an advanced midfield role.

Liechtenstein possible starting lineup:
Hobi; Goppel, Kaufmann, Malin, Brandle; Frommelt, Hasler, Sele, Kuhne, Y. Frick; N. Frick

Armenia possible starting lineup:
Yurchenko; Hovhannisyan, Calisir, Haroyan, Hambardzumyan; Ghazaryan, S. Grigoryan, A. Grigoryan, Barseghyan; Adamyan, Karapetian


SM words green background

We say: Liechtenstein 0-2 Armenia

Even without their captain and creative figurehead, Armenia can pick off a stubborn Liechtenstein side in Vaduz this Thursday.

Recent results may even have caused the team coached by former La Liga tactician Joaquin Caparros to aim higher, so this opening game of a triple-header is already a must-win occasion for the visitors.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting an away win 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.Away Win:data


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Friday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

ROWING
· Victoria Thornley is Team GB's representative in the women's single sculls final (1.33am)
· Great Britain will be going for gold in the men's eight final (2.25am)

SWIMMING
· Team GB duo Molly Renshaw and Abbie Wood take part in the women's 200m breaststroke final, but new Olympic record-holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa is the hot favourite (2.41am)
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TRAMPOLINE
· Bryony Page will be looking to repeat her 2016 heroics in the women's event (5am-7.30pm)

CANOE SLALOM
· Bradley Forbes-Cryans will be looking to emulate Rio gold medallist Joe Clarke in the men's kayak event (6am-9am)

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