WCQ22 – Montenegro v Turkey PREVIEW


A late fight-back from Montenegro was enough to secure a famous point against the Netherlands, although it was meaningless in terms of their attempt to qualify for Qatar 2022, as the ‘Brave Falcons’ were already out of the qualification running. While this is another game in which only pride is at stake for the hosts, they could still have a huge say in deciding who claims the top two places in World Cup Qualification (WCQ) Group G.Having disrupted the Netherlands’ momentum, Turkey are the next side whose World Cup dream Montenegro will be looking to derail. Having taken a point in Istanbul two months ago – again fighting back from two goals down – the home side will hope they have the measure of Turkey again in Podgorica, although a run of just one win in their last five home WCQ outings certainly isn’t a record that breeds confidence.



Qualification for Qatar 2022 would avenge a 20-year absence from football’s showpiece event for Turkey and their task is simple: win here and they’ll secure at least a play-off spot, although a Norway victory against the Netherlands would instead see Turkey gain automatic qualification if they maintain their superior goal difference over the Nordic nation.While home comforts may have been nice for this gargantuan clash, on the road the ‘Crescent Stars’ have excelled, winning three of their four WCQ away games this term (L1). Concentration will be key to Turkey’s progression, who will understandably have one eye on what is going on in Rotterdam, as they’ll have to do better than in their three draws this WCQ campaign, all of which saw them spurn the lead – just as they did in the last two H2Hs.

Players to watchRisto Radunović assisted Montenegro’s equaliser against the Netherlands on Saturday and also grabbed their last-gasp equaliser in the reverse H2H. Burak Yılmaz registered a hat-trick of assists in Turkey’s 6-0 demolition of Gibraltar, his first of the WCQ campaign.

Hot stat: Turkey have taken the lead in eight of their last ten WCQ matches

MY PICK: BTTS YES now at 3/4 at THEPOOL.com

WCQ22 – England v Albania PREVIEW


Despite going unbeaten in this 2022 World Cup Qualification (WCQ) campaign, England cannot afford to rest on their laurels as there’s still work to be done. Currently sitting pretty atop Group I, three points ahead of Poland with a +4 goal difference advantage over them, means one more comprehensive victory over Albania in this game or San Marino in the last round should be enough to see the ‘Three Lions’ book their tickets to Qatar 2022.

Manager Gareth Southgate will emphasize their campaign is not over until the fat lady sings, as he takes charge of his 67th England match, the tied-most since Sir Bobby Robson’s departure in 1990. They’ll fancy themselves to get the job done in style as they’ve lost just once in 18 games (to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final), shutting out the opposition in 13 of those, and last lost to a side ranked outside FIFA’s top 50 back in June 2016.

Albania’s push for a spot in a World Cup finals for the first time in their history is still mathematically a possibility, as they’re just two points behind current playoff-spot holders Poland, and five points adrift of their hosts England. They’ll need to make history if they’re to pull it off though, having lost every fixture played against England to date by an aggregate of 14-1 (L5), while also never scoring on English soil against them.Surprisingly though, the ‘Eagles’ have been fearless on their travels this WCQ campaign, winning three (all ‘to nil’) of their four away games (L1), nearly matching their tally in their previous 12 WCQ campaigns combined (W4, D7, L41).

Players to watch: England have won all six games ‘to nil’ in which Jack Grealish has scored or assisted, while Armando Broja has been directly involved in five of Albania’s 11 WCQ goals so far (G:3, A:2).

Hot stat: England have never trailed Albania in their five H2H matches, only ever facing Turkey (11), Andorra (six) and Colombia (six) as often while achieving the same milestone.

MY PICK: England To Win & Kane To Score First 👉 6/4