Gibraltar take on Georgia tonight at the Victoria Stadium, as the hosts look to get their first points of the European Qualifiers in front of their own fans.
Photo © C Correa Photography
With the final two group games being against Denmark and Switzerland, today realistically represents Gibraltar’s best chance of getting a positive result, and a year on from recording back-to-back wins in the Nations League, Julio Ribas side will be looking to recreate those historic moments against their opponents.
Georgia, like Gib, can not qualify directly for Euro 2020 via Group D, but they have the fall-back option of a guaranteed play-off spot after winning their Nations League group last year. They beat Gib 3-0 in Tbilisi back in June, and Vladimir Weiss’ side will know that victory tonight will at least ensure they can not finish last in their group.
The visitors arrived yesterday into Gibraltar, albeit with only a squad of 19 after four players withdrew from the squad who faced Ireland in a battling 0-0 draw last weekend – Tornike Oqrishvili, Saba Lobzhanidze and Vako Gvilia are injured, while Guram Kashia leaves the squad in order to get married. For Gibraltar, the only confirmed change to the squad is Bradley Banda replacing Dayle Coleing, who suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury he suffered vs Switzerland last month, when playing against Kosovo in a friendly international last week.
At the press conference yesterday afternoon, Ribas spoke about how it was “disrespectful” to refer to Georgia as Gibraltar’s weakest opponent in Group D – both because of their recent results, which include draws vs Ireland and Denmark, and because that Gibraltar must respect their opponents in the same way Gib want to be respected by their opponents.
Ribas also noted the possibility of changes to his eleven tonight from the last qualifier in Sion, with the manager saying there was “concern, but not worries” over the recovery of a couple of players from Thursday’s very physical friendly, where a deflected effort saw Gib lose 1-0 in Prishtina. Liam Walker is expected to start though, with the midfielder, Gibraltar’s highest capped player since UEFA admission, rested on Thursday night to ensure he was fully fit for tonight. Both Joseph and Roy Chipolina are also in line to earn their 40th caps for the national team post-UEFA.
Georgia are 2/9 favourites to pick up all three points tonight at the Victoria Stadium, with the draw currently 6/1 and a Gibraltar win as high as 18/1. A repeat of June’s 3-0 victory for tonight’s visitors is currently 6/1, while a 1-0 Gibraltar victory is priced at 40/1.
With Gibraltar expected to be stubborn defensively, much like on Thursday night, there could be value in backing Gibraltar +2 on the handicap, which is currently 6/5 best price. Meanwhile, if you fancy the Georgians to win and keep a clean sheet, that is currently a best price of 31/40.
FG’s Predicted XI:
Goldwin; Sergeant, J. Chipolina, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Mouelhi; Walker, Hernandez, Badr, Casciaro; De Barr