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Gibraltar to get September triple-header underway away at Latvia

Gibraltar get their latest international triple-header underway tomorrow when they take on Latvia at the Daugava Stadium in Riga.

Photo © Rough & Ready

Julio Ribas’ side travelled to Latvia on the weekend, with Wednesday’s match the first of a tough triple-header that also includes a home tie against Turkey on Saturday, followed by a trip to Norway the following Tuesday. Notable absentees from the squad for tomorrow were Liam Walker and Lee Casciaro, both of whom featured on Thursday in Lincoln’s win over Riga FC, but the pair may join the squad later in this international break, with their game time potentially being managed carefully after a long summer at club level.

One player that joined the team though was Tjay De Barr, with the Wycombe attacker, who came off the bench in their league defeat to Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, making the trip to Latvia separate from the rest of the team, to ensure he could keep his club commitments. There was also a first ever call up for Lions’ youngster Richard Felipes, while Jayce Olivero returns to the squad after injury, and Joseph Chipolina makes the squad for the first time since a long-term injury he picked up in December 2019.

With a 27-man squad being taken to Riga, and only 23 being able to be named in the matchday squad, Ribas has given himself flexibility in who he chooses for his squad, including in the goalkeeping department, where Bradley Banda, Dayle Coleing, Kyle Goldwin and Jamie Robba will have to compete for the three available goalkeeping spots, as well as the starting position in goal.

For the hosts, Latvia manager Dainis Kazakevics has also named a 27-man squad for their three internationals this month, including five players from the Riga squad who took on Lincoln in the UEFA Europa Confererence League Playoffs this month. The majority of their squad are based in Latvia, but defender Raivis Jurkovskis did join Irish side Dundalk in January of this year, while striker Vladislavs Gutkovskis grabbed 12 goals in 35 games for Polish side Rakow and also scored the winner in their Conference League 3rd qualifying tie against Rubin Kazan.

Like Gib, Latvia were in League D of the Nations League last time out, but they finished third behind the Faroe Islands and Malta, picking up one win, four draws and a defeat in the process. They have, however, picked up an impressive 3-3 draw away at Turkey in this qualifying group, and therefore sit one point and one position above Gibraltar in the qualifying group.

One thing to note about this game is potential suspensions, with Gibraltar having eight players just one yellow away from missing Saturday’s tie with Turkey – they are Louie Annesley, Erin Barnett, Tjay De Barr, Kyle Goldwin, Aymen Mouelhi, Alain Pons, Kian Ronan and Reece Styche.

Betting*:

The hosts come into this one as odds on favourites, with the best price you can get on Latvia currently 2/7 at the time of writing. The last time the two sides met, Gib won 1-0 in a friendly at the Victoria Stadium, and a repeat of that scoreline is best price 33/1. Gibraltar to win the match outright is a best price of 15/1, while Both Teams To Score is 39/20.

In the goalscorer market, the aforementioned Gutkovskis is 13/10 to score in 90 minutes for the hosts, while for Gib, Reece Styche, who scored vs Montenegro and may be on penalty duty if Joseph Chipolina doesn’t start, is 5/1 anytime scorer. Tjay De Barr is 11/2 to repeat his goalscoring heroics from Wycombe’s EFL Cup game vs Stevenage last week, while if you’re looking for an aerial threat who has shown he can score big goals, Roy Chipolina is a tempting 50/1 to add to his two goals at international level.

* All prices correct as of 12:13 CEST 31st August 2021, and prices may fluctuate. Please gamble responsibly. 18+ www.begambleaware.org

Match Officials:

The appointed match officials for the game are from Czechia, with referee Pavel Orel a 32-year-old who has officiated in the Europa Conference League this season – he took charge of Lincoln Red Imps’s 1-1 draw with AEK Larnaca in Faro in the 2017/18 Europa League Qualifying, while he even was appointed referee for three matches in the Chinese Super League back in November 2018.

Predicted Lineups:

Latvia – Steinbors; Fjodorovs, Cernomordijs, Oss, Jurkovskis; Tobers, Emsis; Jaunzems, Ikaunieks, Ciganiks; Gutkovskis

Gibraltar – Coleing; Sergeant, Wiseman, R. Chipolina, Olivero; Annesley; Valarino, Torrilla, Ronan, Pons; De Barr

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Gibraltar U21 v Portugal U21: Match Preview

Gibraltar U21 continue their qualifying campaign this evening when they welcome Portugal U21 to the Victoria Stadium.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Fresh off a respectable 5-0 defeat away at a strong Netherlands U21 side, Gib welcome an equally strong Portugal U21 side to Gib this evening – the reverse fixture was back in September 2019 where Portugal won 4-0 in Alverca.

Gibraltar look set to be bolstered by the addition of a number of senior players from the national side who still qualify for the U21 side, including Tjay De Barr, who scored the winner vs Liechtenstein in the Nations League last weekend, as well as Jayce Olivero who captain the national side vs Malta, Kian Ronan and Bradley Banda.

As expected, the Portugal side is stacked with talent. While Joao Felix, the £113 million signing for Atletico is not in the team due to his progression with the senior side, Portugal U21 manager Rui Jorge still has a whole host of talent at his disposal, including Spurs loanee Gedson, Wolves striker Pedro Neto and Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot.

Betting:

Unsurprisingly, Portugal U21 come in as a best price 1/66 shot, while a draw is 25/1 and Gib are 33/1. While there are no player markets, if you do fancy Tjay De Barr to make it two goals in as many games, then Both Teams To Score may be a possibility at 11/5.

Elsewhere, a repeat 4-0 win for Portugal is 13/2, while a shock 1-0 win for Gibraltar is understandably a massive 150/1 shot.

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Liechtenstein 0-1 Gibraltar: What we learned

Tjay De Barr’s goal in the 10th minute secured Gibraltar a 1-0 win away to Liechtenstein yesterday – here’s what we learned from the result in the Nations League.


Tjay is something special

Considering this was his first start in any game since suffering a serious knee injury vs Switzerland back in November 2019, Tjay De Barr was still the star of the game for the 72 minutes he played.

Liechtenstein could not handle the striker (and he had a blatant penalty not given in his favour), and the strength he showed to turn his defender and score the winner showed the quality he has. The injury suffered last year appears to be a hurdle that De Barr is more than capable of getting over.


A major comeback indeed, Graeme Torrilla

“Big setback > Major comeback” tweeted Graeme on the 19/07/2019 after having ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair. Fast forward one year and three months, Graeme’s hit the ground running and played every game as if it was his last.

His defensive work rate yesterday was second to none and can hopefully continue on this path to help secure promotion for Gibraltar in the Nations League.


We have missed Scott Wiseman

Scott has been instrumental domestically and internationally. After a long absence from the international scene, Scott walked straight into the Gibraltar side which beat San Marino then changed position in their win yesterday.

His qualities which have helped him play professionally for so many years is clear to see on the pitch and it’s rubbing off on his team-mates.


The best 90 minutes I have seen from Gibraltar

It’s all in the title. The first half display was the best ever seen in a Gibraltar shirt, we think anyways. The defensive discipline shown in the second half while our back was against the wall shows how much we’ve grown over the years.

Onwards and upwards from here with an away trip to San Marino and a home tie with Liechtenstein to come.


Can we dream of promotion?

There are many critics of international football, but it is safe to say that Gibraltar will be big fans of it – especially the Nations League. This years edition changed the set-up of League D, and with two wins from two, promotion has to be a realistic possibility.

November is now looking like an absolutely massive month, and Gibraltar need to replicate the performances of their first two games – if they do then Gibraltar will get to celebrate an historic moment in football locally. A clear sign that big progress has been made in the last few years.

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Liechtenstein v Gibraltar: Match Preview

Gibraltar could make it two wins from two in the Nations League, when they take on Liechtenstein in Vaduz this evening.

Photo © William Gracia

Both teams are on three points, courtesy of wins against San Marino, but Liechtenstein’s 2-0 win means they currently are top on goal difference. With both teams gunning for promotion, they know that this match, and the subsequent meeting at Victoria Stadium next month, will be crucial.

The last time the two sides met was in 2018, when Gib won 2-1 courtesy of goals from Joseph Chipolina and George Cabrera. Neither player is in the squad today, but Gib will also be looking to improve on the last match in Liechtenstein, where they lost 2-0 in a decent performance.

Both teams prepared with friendlies earlier this week, but while an experimental Gib side lost 2-0 in Malta, Liechtenstein picked up an impressive 2-1 win away at Luxembourg. However, Gib showed improvement in the second half of their friendly on Wednesday, and will be looking to build upon that.

Team News:

Gibraltar are expected to again be without Dayle Coleing, and the fact that four U21 players, Bradley Banda, Ayoub El Hmidi, Dylan Peacock and Ethan Santos, travelled to join the senior team in Liechtenstein, suggests there may be other injury concerns ahead of the game.

Betting:

Liechtenstein go into this game as 3/5 favourites, with a draw, which Gib have never had under Julio Ribas, 13/5, and a Gib win currently 5/1. A repeat of Liechtenstein’s 2-0 win in Vaduz is 11/2, while Gib to repeat the 2-1 win of October 2018 is currently 20/1. Graeme Torrilla scored the winner vs San Marino, and is 10/1 to score again this evening.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Liechtenstein: Buchel; Wolfinger, Kaufmann, Malin, Goppel; Buchel, Sele; Hasler, Frick, Wolfinger; Salanovic

Gibraltar: Goldwin; Sergeant, Wiseman, Mouelhi, Olivero; Annesley; L. Casciaro, Walker, Torrilla, Coombes; De Barr

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Malta v Gibraltar: Match Preview

Gibraltar play the first of an away double-header of internationals this evening, as they take on Malta in a friendly.

Photo (C) Neil Wilson

The friendly could give Julio Ribas a chance to rotate some of his squad, keeping players fresh ahead of Saturday’s Nations League match at Liechtenstein, while also trying new ideas in a low-risk encounter.

The two teams have met once before – Kyle Casciaro scored the winner in Faro in that match and he is in the squad again for the game at the Ta’Qali National Stadium, which kicks off at 6pm.

Gib come into this match on the back of a 1-0 win vs San Marino, while Malta’s two matches in September were a 3-2 loss to Faroe Islands and a 1-1 draw with Latvia – this game is expected to be a tight encounter with Gib having the chance of recording another positive result under Ribas.

22 of the 23-man squad have travelled for the game – the only absentee is seemingly Dayle Coleing, with the keeper expected to travel to Vaduz for the match on Saturday instead – giving Kyle Goldwin and Jamie Robba a chance to stake their claim on the international stage and push for a start vs Liechtenstein.

Betting:

As the home side, Malta go into this game as favourites at 4/7, with the draw 13/5 and a Gib win as big as 5/1 in places. Low-profile friendlies don’t tend to offer player markets such as goalscorer or bookings, so another angle to look at is the Both Teams To Score, with 11/10 on offer for goals on both sides.

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Lincoln replace William with McElwee

Last night, Lincoln parted ways with manager William, and replaced him with former manager Mick McElwee.

Photo © Lincoln / Neil Wilson

William, who was only appointed as manager back in May, managed the Imps for two games officially, beating Union Titus Petange 2-0 after a 3-0 walkover vs Prishtina, followed by a 5-0 loss to Rangers. His departure, and the subsequent return of McElwee, means that since parting ways with Julio Ribas in April 2018, Lincoln have now had seven different permanent managers.

McElwee needs no introduction to followers of local football, being a former player and manager of the club over the years, and remaining a popular figure at Lincoln throughout. His most recent spell at the club was as a short caretaker spell, but this time out he’s been appointed as permanent Head Coach for the 2020/21 season, where Lincoln are set to open up against College 1975 on Monday 19th October.

With a squad composed largely of Gibraltarians at his disposal, McElwee’s challenge will be to return Lincoln to the top of the pile in local football – his past work with Lincoln is likely to afford him a bit more time and patience should it be needed, with Lincoln desperately in need of stability in the Head Coach role.

In a statement on the Lincoln site, Club President Dylan Viagas said: “We are more convinced that ever that Mick is more than capable to achieve great results and continue making history with Lincoln.”

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Gibraltar squad confirmed for next week’s internationals

Gibraltar Head Coach Julio Ribas has this morning announced a 23-man squad for next week’s friendly at Malta, and Nations League encounter away to Liechtenstein.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

The main omission from the squad is national captain Roy Chipolina, with the Chronicle reporting that the defender misses out due to injury. From the last squad, Bradley Banda, Ethan Britto, Jean-Carlos Garcia and Anthony Hernandez also miss out.

Banda’s omission, which FG reported yesterday being due to his need to play for the U21s in their internationals, sees a long-awaited return to the national set-up for Jamie Robba – the St Joseph’s stopper has been one of the most in-form keepers in the league in the last couple of seasons.

There are also returns to the national team for the likes of Robba’s Saints teammates, Erin Barnett and Alain Pons, as well as Europa’s Ethan Jolley and Lynx vice-captain Brad Power.

The squad travel to Ta’Qali to take on Malta on Wednesday, in a friendly originally due to happen back in March, before then making the trip to Vaduz for a crunch Nations League tie vs Liechtenstein – both sides won against San Marino in the September Nations League matches, and this will be a key match in the battle for promotion.

The squad is as follows (Photo (C) Gibraltar FA)

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Gibraltar on course to benefit from Europa Conference League next season

The UEFA Europa Conference League starts for the first time next season, and Gibraltar are currently on course to get an extra European spot as a result of the new tournament.

Photo © Black and Burst

The tournament, announced by UEFA in 2018, has had little to no fanfare around it, but as we get closer to its inaugural season, it is becoming clearer how allocation to the tournament works, and how Gibraltar looks set to benefit, for at least one season.

The team allocation for the 21/22 edition uses the 2020 UEFA Country Coefficients, which takes into account performances from the 15/16 to 19/20 seasons. As it stands, teams ranked from 16th to 50th (excluding Liechtenstein who do not run a league) are granted three spots in the tournament, alongside their usual one Champions League spot – Gibraltar ended the 2020 Coefficient rankings in 49th, and as such seem set to benefit for at least one season by having four teams in European competition.

It was originally expected Gib would have four teams for this season’s qualifiers, which ended for the local teams yesterday, but with UEFA taking the 3rd Europa League spot from the 51st place team, which was Gib, and giving it to the 55th place nation, who only used to have two teams in Europe, that advantage was denied – Lynx were the team who would have theoretically taken the 3rd Europa League spot this summer had UEFA not changed the allocations.

This benefit is at the moment only guaranteed for one season, as Gibraltar are not currently guaranteed to finish in the top 50 spots at the end of this seasons rankings. Gib currently find themselves in 48th, but three nations below them currently have teams still in Europe (Faroe Islands, Montenegro and Estonia). Should the teams from those three nations go on good runs, then Gib may drop to 51st and only have one season of four teams in Europe – however the chances are in Gib’s favour as it would require all 3 nations jumping above them, and they currently enjoy a 1.291 point lead over Estonia, and a 0.791 lead over Montenegro.

As a result, with the 1.5 points per win divided by the four teams they enter in Europe, this would require Montenegrin side Buducnost Podgorica and Estonian side Flora to both qualify for the Europa League Group Stages.

While the confirmed start of the league is not officially known, the news that 4th place could get a European spot (depending on the Rock Cup winner), puts another twist into what could be a highly competitive season this time out.

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Europa unfortunate in Djurgarden defeat

Europa were knocked out of Europe tonight after a narrow 2-1 away loss to Djurgarden of Sweden, with a saved penalty, a red card and the woodwork coming back to hurt the visitors.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa were not well fancied in the betting going into the game, but proved to be a match for the Swedish champions, and Rafael Escobar’s side had a great chance to go ahead from the spot just before half time – however Liam Walker’s penalty was saved well, and Djurgarden went up the other end to score through Curtis Edwards.

The setback did not deter the visitors though, and they got their reward in the 57th minute. A defensive mix up at the back by Djurgarden left Adrian Gallardo with an empty net to finish into and get his side back into it. Europa were to fall down to 10 men soon after though with Alex Quillo picking up two bookings in four minutes.

Europa kept on fighting, but would go behind to a penalty from former Burnley midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad. The woodwork would then go on to deny Europa a second equaliser, and later chances for Walker, Gallardo, and 18-year-old Gibraltarian Mitch Gibson, a surprise inclusion onto the field of play near the end, could not be converted as Europa lost in the narrowest of circumstances.

The final statistics, of 9 shots each team told the story of a tight match, which on another day, Europa may have been able to win – they will likely take confidence from the performance though going into the domestic season.

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Djurgardens v Europa: Match Preview

The second part of today’s Europa League double-header involving local sides sees Europa in Sweden, as they take on Djurgardens at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm.

Photo © C Correa Photography

Europa, who moved into the Europa League after defeat to Red Star Belgrade, take on the Swedish champions, who lost at the same stage to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, in what should be another tough encounter for Rafael Escobar’s side, who haven’t had the luck of the draw so to speak with the teams they have drawn out – the winner of this has to play CFR Cluj in the next round.

Europa’s most recent visit to Sweden saw them lose 1-0 to AIK back in 2016, and they will be hoping that this time out may be more joyful – they won’t be aided by the fact the hosts, who have two Head Coaches in Kim Bergstrand and Thomas Lagerlof, are 19 games into the Allsvenskan season, which started in June – they sit fifth in the league though which for last season’s champions is not ideal.

Before the game, Bergstrand spoke about the ball-skill and good organisation of Europa, noting they only went behind to Red Star initially due to an offside goal. He also noted that while his team should be able to hurt Europa, they also have to respect them. Liam Walker, Europa’s captain, spoke to FG yesterday ahead of the game, which you can read here.

Squad News:

Europa’s squad has been bolstered by the return of Ethan Jolley, as well as the arrival of new signing Kwadwo Poku – the pair would be expected to start at the Tele2 Arena this evening. They will be without Ibrahim Ayew and Blas Alvarez though, who have not travelled with the team to Stockholm.

For the hosts, they are confirmed to be without Erik Berg, Jesper Nyholm, Emmanuel Banda, Nicklas Bärkroth and Alexander Abrahamsson, according to their official website. One player that may catch the eye is English midfielder Curtis Edwards, who played both legs for fellow Swedish side Ostersund against Arsenal in their historic Europa League run of 2017/18. The Swedish side also have midfielder Kevin Walker – the Swedish/Irish 31-year-old won the 2013 Swedish Pop Idol, singing alongside Robbie Williams in the final.

Betting:

The hosts understandably go into this game as massive favourites, with 1/20 the best price you can get on them winning in 90 minutes. Europa are 45/1 to cause a big shock, while the draw in 90 minutes is 14/1. The handicap line is set at 3, with Europa 13/10 on +3. Meanwhile, if you do fancy Djurgardens to win but Europa to score, that is currently 11/4.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Djurgardens – Bratvelt; Witry, Une Larsson, Kack, Augustinsson; Ulvestad, Karlstrom; Eriksson, Edwards, Ring; Chilufya

Europa – Munoz;Jolley, Olmo, Carrascal, Olivero; Walker, Rosa, Badr, Becerra; Juampe, Gallardo