Gibraltar open their 2020 UEFA Nations League campaign with a home match against San Marino this afternoon at the Victoria Stadium.
Just under 10 months after both sides last played at international level, the pair get League D Group 2 underway at 3pm, in what undoubtedly is a big game for both nations.
Speaking ahead of the game yesterday, Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas said that the game will be a “very tough encounter”, but one that he expects the team, as always, to encounter with “all of our hearts, always to win”.
Meanwhile, San Marino Head Coach Franco Varrella spoke very respectfully of Gibraltar, commenting that he felt that Gibraltar were still ahead of his team in terms of professionalism, and that there was a gap between the two. Whether that was mind games, or a genuine comment, remains to be seen, but the comments from both managers highlight the nature of today’s game.
Gibraltar confirmed their 23-man squad yesterday, with a notable omission as Europa’s Ethan Jolley was surprisingly dropped from Ribas final squad. Notably, 12 Lincoln players have made the team after their summer transfer exploits in signing a number of HGP’s, and there could be debuts for Red Imps duo Kian Ronan and Graeme Torrilla – alongside Lynx’s Bradley Banda and Bruno’s Magpies Jaron Vinet, they make up the four uncapped players in the team. There is also a returning face in Scott Wiseman, who last played for the national team back in 2016.
For the visitors, San Marino, their biggest attacking threat, now that former Sammarinese icon Andy Selva has retired, would likely be Filippo Berardi. The winger, who was on the book of Serie A side Torino for four years, scored their most recent goal in a 3-1 home defeat against Kazakhstan in Euro 2020 qualifying.
For the first time in a competitive international, Gibraltar go into this game as overwhelming favourites to pick up all 3 points – they are best price 1/2 to win, while the draw is 19/4 and a San Marino win is currently as high as 10/1 in places.
The bookies don’t appear to fancy goals flying in today, with Under 2.5 a short chance at 8/11, however, in the goalscoring stakes, you can get 9/5 on Lee Casciaro to score once again for Gibraltar, or 9/2 for Roy Chipolina to notch on the scoresheet – both scored in the 3-2 defeat to Georgia last year.
FG’s Predicted Lineups:
Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Badr, Walker, Hernandez, L. Casciaro; De Barr, Styche
San Marino – E. Benedettini; Rossi, Simoncini, Battistini, Grandoni, Palazzi; E. Golinucci, Giardi, A. Golinucci, Berardi; Ceccaroli