Malta vs England Preview
As Malta vs England Preview is online, as they meet on the Euro 2024 qualifications round on National stadium on today’s meetings.
The host sits at the bottom of the group with two defeats next to their name so far, while Gareth Southgate’s lead the way on the back of successive wins over Italy and Ukraine in March.
Off the back of another failed venture to leave the doldrums of League D in the UEFA Nations League behind, Malta’s bid to qualify for a maiden major tournament has started according to the script, with Michele Marcolini‘s men quickly assuming position at the bottom of the section.
Now ranked 172nd in the world, Malta went down 2-1 to North Macedonia on the opening matchday before taking on the seemingly impossible task of besting reigning champions Italy, who scored two first-half goals at the National Stadium through Mateo Retegui and Matteo Pessina to run out comfortable 2-0 winners.
With Ukraine also lying in wait for Marcolini’s charges on Monday, few will back the Falcons to upset the Group C apple cart and earn their tickets to a first-ever Euros finals, but Malta did at least end a three-game losing streak in last week’s friendly with Luxembourg, who succumbed to a Kyrian Nwoko header in the second half.
Overcoming a team sitting 81 places higher than them in the FIFA world rankings should lead to a renewed sense of optimism within the Malta camp, but the hosts have just one clean sheet to show from their last seven home games, and even that came against perennial whipping boys San Marino.
Furthermore, Malta have suffered 11 successive defeats in Euro qualifying since beating the Faroe Islands 2-1 in March 2019 – scoring a paltry two goals in that sequence – and keeping the scoreline respectable should be priority number one on Friday.
Team news and Injury
Malta have lost uncapped goalkeeper Cain Formosa since the showdown with Luxembourg, but the 22-year-old was only on the bench for that triumph, and Marcolini will otherwise be working with the same group from that hard-fought triumph.
However, one notable injury absentee is Teddy Teuma, who registered 12 assists for Union SG in the Belgian top flight last term, as the 29-year-old picked up a foot injury in domestic action, leaving Malta with only two foreign-based players in their ranks for Friday.
Notts County attacker Jodi Jones is still awaiting his first goal for the national team but could be given the nod in the final third, while Farense’s Zach Muscat is a surefire starter at the back.
Meanwhile, the customary England pre-game withdrawals saw Jude Bellingham and Lewis Dunk both pull out of the squad, joining a plethora of well-known absentees such as Mason Mount, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Raheem Sterling and the suspended Ivan Toney. To be noted, Jude Bellingham had moved from Borussia to Real Madrid on summer transfer.
Southgate is also anticipating the arrivals of Champions League-winning quintet Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, John Stones and Kyle Walker, but it is hard to envisage any of the Manchester City celebrating treble to amid their unrestrained celebrations.
Malta and England last faced off in the qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. England came out on top in both games, beating Malta 2-0 at home and 0-4 away.
The only other meeting between these sides took place in June 2000 in a friendly game prior to Euro 2000. England ran out 1-2 winners thanks to goals from Emile Heskey and Martin Keown.
Alarmingly, Malta have only ever won four games during UEFA European Championship campaigns despite playing 106 games dating back to 1964.
England’s Harry Kane will be looking to extend his international record with at least one goal in this game. The Tottenham striker became his country’s top scorer in March, eclipsing Wayne Rooney by reaching the 55-goal mark.
Crystal Palace forward Eberechi Eze will be hoping to claim his first cap for England in this game. He has been called into Gareth Southgate’s squad for the first time since an Achilles injury prevented him from going to UEFA Euro 2020.
Malta vs England prediction
Luxembourg may have fallen short against Malta’s defence-heavy setup last week, and England will be far from full strength due to injuries and European fatigue, but such factors will no doubt pale into insignificance on Friday.
Even if Southgate puts out a slightly altered XI, it should only be a case of how many goals England can amass, and we can envisage the Three Lions producing a five-star display to maintain their grip on first place.