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Preview: United Arab Emirates vs. Lebanon - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Asia clash between United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The United Arab Emirates will continue their World Cup qualifying campaign on Thursday, when they face off against Lebanon at the Zabeel Stadium.

While the UAE have previously appeared in the World Cup finals back in 1990, Lebanon are yet to make an appearance at the biggest footballing stage and will be hopeful of breaking their duck this time around.

Match preview

In tip-top form at the moment, the UAE have emerged victorious in each of their previous six matches on the spin, notching up a staggering 27 goals and conceding only four in that time to progress to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Following so many years of obscurity, the Sons of Zayed now seem to be finding their feet and are gradually becoming a huge force in Asian football, thanks to their overall squad quality and recent brilliant run of form.

Hosts of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Bert van Marwijk's men enjoyed a fantastic run in the competition, progressing past the group stages for the first time in their history to even reach the latter stages of the tournament.

The UAE, who were later eliminated in the semi-finals via a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Qatar, have since returned to winning ways, and are now on a four-game winning run on home soil, and unbeaten in seven of their last nine home matches.

Having comfortably topped Group G in the second round, Van Marwijk's men successfully booked a ticket to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals and also advanced to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers, where they will be looking to get off to a winning start on Thursday.

On matchday one, they face a tricky test against Lebanon, who are yet to qualify for the World Cup finals in their history, but have been on an upward trajectory in recent years, as is proven by their participation in the previous edition of the Asian Cup.

Without a single appearance in a major tournament before 2019, Lebanon made history by qualifying for the quadrennial continental competition hosted in the UAE, and even though they were eliminated in the group stages, there were positives to be taken.

With two wins and two defeats in the World Cup qualifiers so far, Ivan Hasek's men are enjoying a decent campaign, and will be buoyed by their progression to the third round, as their hopes of reaching Qatar remain alive.

To appear in the World Cup finals for the first time, especially given the fact that it is the first-ever Middle Eastern finals, will be the stuff of dreams for the Cedars - who have lost three of their previous four away games.

The UAE will feel confident about their chances of emerging victorious in this clash given that they have outclassed Lebanon in recent head-to-head meetings, winning three of their last four clashes, whilst scoring 13 goals and conceding six.

United Arab Emirates World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

United Arab Emirates form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Lebanon World Cup Qualifying - Asia form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L

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

Team News

Head coach Van Marwijk, who recently took over the reins at the UAE, has remained unbeaten in his seven games in charge and will hope to keep that run going after this match.

Record goalscorer Ali Mabkhout hit the target in the previous game against Vietnam, and is expected to lead the line once again.

Ali Salmeen has been very impressive lately, and should continue to partner Abdallah Ramadan in the centre of the pack.

Lebanon's Nour Mansour was suspended for the game against Turkmenistan but should be eligible to return to the team for this match.

This is the only alteration we are expecting, as Hasek will likely stick to the lineup that narrowly lost to South Korea on the last matchday.

United Arab Emirates possible starting lineup:
Khasif; Khamis, Abbas, Abdulrahman, Ahbabi; Ramadan, Salmeen; Ibrahim, Hassan, Lima; Mabkhout

Lebanon possible starting lineup:
Khalil; El Zein, Mansour, Sabra, A. Melki; Haidar, Matar, F. Melki; Saad, Ataya, El-Helwe

SM words green background

We say: United Arab Emirates 4-1 Lebanon

The UAE, who are having lots of joy in front of goal at the moment, are firing on all cylinders, and will fancy their chances of putting a couple of goals past a relatively weak Lebanon side.

Factor their home advantage in, and Bert van Marwijk's men are overwhelming favourites to win - in a game that should see lots of goals down both ends of the pitch.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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