Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 21/20
Revived Georgia will be hoping to put a dent into Wales’s qualifying hopes when the two sides square off on Friday, while the Dragons face a must-win game as they aim to remain ahead of third-placed Republic of Ireland and place extra pressure on group leaders Serbia, albeit doing so without one of their best players.
The Georgian national team haven’t had too much to brag about since their first competitive fixture in 1992 and they currently occupy 103rd position in the FIFA Rankings. Jvarosnebi have been far from impressive in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, failing to win any of the eight games so far, but the team did show some improvement this year. Namely, Georgia are unbeaten in last three qualifiers, having shared spoils with Moldova, Republic of Ireland and Austria, and they’ve got two more games against top opposition to show how far they’ve come of late. The interesting thing is that Georgia’s final two games could decide the outcome of the race for top two positions, as they first play host to second-placed Wales before facing leaders Serbia away. Good results in those two games could help Jvarosnebi further improve their position in the rankings ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifiers and at the same time keep the spirits high after the good run of results.
Captain Jaba Kankava kept his place in the squad despite failing to find a new club, but Levan Kenia, Aleksandre Kobakhidze and Levan Mchedlidze all miss out.
Following the highly successful Euro 2016 tournament, Wales needed a while to hit the ground running in the new qualifying campaign and they were in all sorts of problems ahead of September qualifiers, having recorded five straight draws. However, the Dragons showed a great deal of character to record back to back wins over Austria and Moldova, taking great advantage of Ireland’s setbacks against Georgia and Serbia. Wales now head into the final two qualifiers one point clear of third-placed Republic of Ireland, whom they will host in Cardiff on Monday, while sitting four points behind leaders Serbia, who face Austria on the road in their penultimate match. This means that Wales could even finish as group winners with two triumphs, so they will not be lacking motivation for the clash in Tbilisi. Manager Chris Coleman was, however, dealt with a major blow as Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale has been ruled out through injury, but his teammates will give their best to compensate for the loss. This Wales side have been quite impressive in most must-win games over the last couple of years and we believe they will successfully negotiate the Georgia fixture.
Chris Coleman could revert to a three-man defence in the absence of Gareth Bale, but exciting youngster Ben Woodburn could be handed a start if the boss sticks to four at the back. Jazz Richards is also out injured.
Key Factors to Consider
- Wales have yet to beat Georgia on international stage
- The Dragons lost their first three meetings ahead of the 1-1 draw a year ago
- Under 2.5 goals were scored in Wales’s last six qualifiers
- Georgia played out three straight draws
- Gareth Bale missing for Wales
Georgia have shown a great deal of potential of late, having held both Austria and Republic of Ireland to 1-1 draw, but we trust revived Wales side to win in Tbilisi. They have developed a knack for winning important games under Chris Coleman and this one is as important as they get.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 21/20
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