MX23RW : Sunday, June 20 10:37:35| >> :600:1014826:1014826:
May 30, 2021 at 5pm UK at Karawankenblick Stadion
N. IrelandNorthern Ireland

Teuma (51')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Jones (2'), Whyte (53'), McCann (55')
Thompson (42')

Preview: Malta vs. Northern Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's International Friendlies clash between Malta and Northern Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Northern Ireland travel to Austria on Sunday where they will face Malta in an international friendly fixture.

Ian Baraclough's side were due to face Turkey on Monday but that match was cancelled after Turkey were added to the UK Government's red list for travel, and this match has also been rescheduled to kick off 25 hours earlier than first planned.

Match preview

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough on March 31, 2021© Reuters

Malta played three fixtures during the March international break and picked up their first point of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, but remain bottom of Group H after the opening round of matches.

Their first game in the qualification campaign saw Malta host Russia and the away side came away with three points after Joseph Mbong's strike was not enough to stage a comeback for the home side, who eventually fell to a 3-1 defeat.

An improved result came three days later when Devis Mangia's side drew 2-2 with Slovakia, however after Luke Gambin and Alexander Satariano put Malta 2-0 up inside the first 20 minutes, they will be disappointed to have surrendered that lead.

Last time out at the end of March they visited Croatia, who were too strong for Malta and came out as 3-0 winners after goals from Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and Josip Brekalo.

Mangia's side will have to wait until September for their next World Cup qualifying fixture, with the nation never before managing to qualify for a major international tournament.

Malta's Alexander Satariano celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on March 27, 2021© Reuters

Northern Ireland are in a run of poor form, having not won a game in 90 minutes since October 2019 and they missed out on a place at the Euros this summer after an extra-time defeat to Slovakia in the playoffs.

Baraclough's side have played two fixtures in their World Cup qualifying campaign, recording one defeat and one draw in the opening fixtures.

In the opening gameweek in Group C, Northern Ireland travelled to Italy where they suffered a 2-0 defeat after first-half goals from Domenico Berardi and Ciro Immobile.

Their last fixture came against Bulgaria and, despite dominating the possession and creating more chances, Northern Ireland had to settle for one point after a goalless draw at Windsor Park.

This game against Malta is the first of a double-header of friendly fixtures for Baraclough's side, as it comes before they face Ukraine on Thursday.

Malta International Friendlies form:
  • W
  • W

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

Northern Ireland International Friendlies form:
  • L

Northern Ireland form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D

Team News

Bulgaria's Valentin Antov is shown a yellow card during the clash with Northern Ireland on March 31, 2021© Reuters

Mangia tends to favour a 3-4-2-1 formation and the back three has recently lined up with Steve Borg and Kurt Shaw either side of Enrico Pepe at the heart of the defence.

Mbong has one goal and one assist in Malta's opening three fixtures in Group H of the World Cup qualifiers and he is likely to earn his 29th cap on Sunday.

As for Northern Ireland, they will be without senior figures Jonny Evans, as he is nursing a foot injury, and captain Steven Davis, who is being rested after a long season which saw him become Britain's most-capped male international.

Liverpool's 17-year-old right-back Conor Bradley has received his first senior call-up along with Chelsea Under-23 centre-back Sam McClelland, both of whom represented Northern Ireland at youth level.

Familiar faces included in the squad for this month's fixtures are Kyle Lafferty, Craig Cathcart, Paddy McNair and Niall McGinn.

Malta possible starting lineup:
Bonello; Borg, Pepe, Shaw; Camenzuli, Kristensen, Guillaumier, Mbong; Pisani, Teuma; Satariano

Northern Ireland possible starting lineup:
Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Cathcart, McNair, Ballard; Saville, McGinn, McCann, Whyte; Magennis, Lafferty

SM words green background

We say: Malta 1-1 Northern Ireland

With the absence of key members such as Evans and Davis, it will be difficult for Northern Ireland to turn their form around in this month's friendly fixtures and at this moment in time the two squads are quite evenly matched.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at 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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Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough pictured on September 7, 2020
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Ian Baraclough selects mix of youth and experience in Northern Ireland squad
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