The path to the 2022 FIFA World Cup continues on Friday morning with Qualifiers from across Europe.
The immortal Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his much awaited return to international football for Sweden, while Italy, Spain and England all commence their respective campaigns.
Spain vs. Greece
march 26th 6:45am
Spain will hope to kick off their bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in perfect fashion when they do battle with Greece at the Nuevo Los Carmenes in Group B on Thursday evening.
The hosts are aiming to improve on their last-16 finish in Russia 2018, whereas Greece are bidding to return to the world stage after missing out three years ago.
Spain look to be back somewhere near their brilliant best after thrashing Germany for six in November 2020.
Attacker Ferran Torres smashed home a hat trick on that night against the Germans and looks set to line up on the pitch again for this opening qualifier.
Current Arsenal defender Dinos Mavropanos has been handed his first call-up after impressing on loan at Stuttgart but coach John Van’t Schip may opt for a more experience back half.
Georgios Tzavellas and Kyriakos Papadopoulos may be preferred by Van ‘t Schip at the back, while Liverpool’s Kostas Tsimikas will do battle with Norwich City loanee Dimitris Giannoulis for the left-back spot.
Greece love being brandied with the underdog tag but this Spanish side will too much class to overcome.
Prediction: Spain 3 Greece 0
Suggested Bet: Ferran Torres to score anytime at $2.25
Sweden vs. Georgia
March 26th 6:45am
Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his much awaited return to the international football scene when takes the pitch for Sweden against Georgia.
After retiring in 2019, Ibrahimovic announced he would be available for selection early this year and will now be tasked with helping to guide the Swedes through Group B of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The 39-year-old has not missed a beat with AC Milan in the Serie A this season having slammed home 15 goals to help the Rossoneri to second on the table.
This will be the first-ever competitive game between Sweden and Georgia. The two sides have not even played a friendly game with each other before.
Georgia look to have shown some improvement under head coach Willy Sagnol after almost qualifying for the Euros.
93-cap veteran Jaba Kankava will again captain Georgia in a bid to cause a huge upset.
This should be a comfortable win for Sweden but do not be surprised if Georgia pinch a goal in this one.
Prediction: Sweden 2 Georgia 1
Suggested Bet: Zlatan Ibrahimovic anytime goal scorer at $1.52
italy vs. northern ireland
march 26th 6:45am
Italy and Northern Ireland commence their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against each other on Friday morning in their opening Group C match from Stadio Ennio Tardini.
Roberto Mancini will be looking to atone for Italy’s failure to make the 2018 World Cup in Russia after disastrous qualifier campaign under Gian Pietro Ventura.
Juventus winger Federico Chiesa is likely to play following a brilliant run of form in the Serie A and Champions League.
Ciro Immobile, Alessandro Florenzi, Moise Kean and Marco Verratti as well as forward Vincenzo Grifo have also been named in the Italian squad as Mancini aims to get off to a flying start.
For Northern Ireland, the heart break of coming so close to qualifying for the Euros is what will spur them on come Friday morning.
Shayne Lavery has been assigned international duties for Northern Ireland after eight goals in his last five games for Irish League leaders Linfield.
Mancini has established an impressive record since taking over the Azzurri managerial role and he looks set to extend on his current 66% winning rate.
Prediction: Italy 2 Northern Ireland 0
Suggested Bet: Federico Chiesa anytime goal scorer at $2.15
England vs. San Marino
march 26th 6:45am
The ultimate case of giant against minnow takes place when England take on San Marino in their opening Group I 2022 World Cup Qualifier clash at Wembley Stadium.
The gigantic gap in the FIFA world rankings between these two teams says it all.
England, stacked full of Premier League and global talent, rank fourth on the FIFA world rankings, while San Marino are the 210th ranked FIFA nation.
The Three Lions will endeavour to make this a huge win with the expectation upon them that they will finish atop of the Group with plenty left in the tank.
San Marino, with all due respect, will be playing purely for pride not only in this game but for the majority of the qualifiers despite England not showing the best of form in recent international fixtures.
England’s Nations League campaign was hardly an ideal warm-up for their qualification period, as defeats to Denmark and Belgium – whom they also managed to beat at Wembley – saw them finish third in League A Group 2, although they did manage to ease past Wales and the Republic of Ireland in friendlies.
Star Premier League duo Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka look certain to get called into the starting line-up given the handful of injuries coach Gareth Southgate is having to deal with heading into this game.
This game looks to be a matter of how many England will scorch into the San Marino net.
Prediction: England 8 San Marino 0
Suggested Bet: Total goals scored over 6.5 at $1.56