Saturday, July 24, 2021

Prediction: Riga vs Malmo

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 12 Jul 2021

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Verdict: Total goals under 2.5

Best odds: 23/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

Riga FC are set to welcome Malmo FF to the Skonto Stadium in Riga, Latvia, for the second leg of their clash in the first round of the qualifications for the UEFA Champions League. Malmo won the first leg by 1-o, courtesy of a 50th-minute strike by Antonio Colak.

Riga FC

Riga won the Latvian Higher League title in 2020, finishing three points above main rivals RFS, and earned their place in these qualifications thereby. It was their third consecutive domestic title. This term, however, they’re sitting second with 32 points. RFS, of course, top the table with 34, with two games in hand on Riga to boot.

Having appointed Andris Riherts as the manager only last month, the reigning Latvian champions have won three and lost three of their last six matches in all competitions. They first beat Noah Jurmala at home by 1-0, then lost away to RFS by 3-1, beat third-place Valmieras by 1-0 at home, triumphed over Noah Jurmala again by 2-1, lost 1-0 to Liepaja, and eventually lost the first leg to Malmo.

Riga have never played in the Champions League group stages.

Team News

Coach Riherts won’t be able to call upon two players for this clash. One of them is 32-year-old winger Vladimir Kamess, who misses out through injury. Meanwhile, striker Yunusa Owolabi Muritala from Nigeria is suspended, following a red card he picked up in the 41st minute of the first leg.

Incidentally, that was the second match in a row Riga were left with 10 men in; winger Edgar Babayan was sent off in the league defeat to Liepaja, though that doesn’t bear any significance for UEFA competitions. The Armenian is available for selection.

Malmo FF

Like Riga in Latvia, Malmo also won the league in Sweden in 2020, with a nine-point gap behind their backs to second-place IF Elfsborg. They top the Allsvenskan now as well, though the situation is slightly more complicated. They have 23 points to their name, three more than Djurgarden, but Djurgarden have two matches in hand on them. IF Elfsborg are not far away either, sitting third with 19.

Under the command of former Feyenoord and AC Milan striker Jon Dahl Tomasson, Malmo won four and lost two of their last six matches in all competitions. They beat IF Elfsborg at home by 2-0, lost at home to Midtjylland by 1-2, beat HB Koge at home by 2-0, lost 3-2 away to Norrkoping, beat Riga in the first leg by 1-0, and thrashed 10th-place Sirius by 4-0 at home on Saturday.

Team News

The only player Tomasson won’t be able to rely on for this game is 35-year-old attacking midfielder Ola Toivonen, who has been sidelined with a knee problem for a while now. The rest of the squad should be available for selection, and the team should look much the same as in the first leg.

Conclusion

Having won the first leg, Malmo won’t be rushing anywhere in this match. They’ll be looking to control the proceedings as much as possible and keep the pace of the play low. It will be for the home side to try and attack if they want to progress further, but that won’t be easy.

Malmo should do enough to go through, and there shouldn’t be too many chances, let alone goals.

Verdict: Total goals under 2.5

Best odds: 23/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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