Monday, November 15
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Nov 11, 2021 at 5pm UK
N. MacedoniaNorth Macedonia
FT(HT: 0-2)
Trajkovski (22'), Bardhi (36', 66' pen., 90' pen.), Ristovski (79')
Kostadinov (53')

Preview: Armenia vs. North Macedonia - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Armenia vs. North Macedonia - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Armenia and North Macedonia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Two nations battling it out for second place in Group J will lock horns on Thursday, when Armenia welcome North Macedonia to the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium.

Both sides, who have never qualified for the World Cup in their history, are level on 12 points after eight group matches, one point behind Romania in second place with just two games left to play.

Match preview

Armenia began their World Cup qualification campaign with three successive wins, scoring six goals in the process, and their chances of finally advancing to their first major tournament looked strong.

However, since then, Joaquin Caparros's men have failed to win any of their next five matches, drawing three and losing twice, including a narrow 1-0 defeat against Romania in a crucial Group J encounter last month.

Alexandru Mitrita scored the only goal of the game in the 26th minute, which helped Romania leapfrog the Mountaineers into second place with only one point separating the two nations.

With Armenia's final qualifier at home against four-time world champions Germany, Thursday's clash with North Macedonia could decide their fate in Group J.

Caparros's side – who are 89th in the FIFA world rankings – can head into their penultimate fixture with confidence, after winning each of their last three home meetings against North Macedonia by an aggregate score of 9-1.

North Macedonia's six-game unbeaten run in Group J came to an end when they were beaten 4-0 at home to European giants Germany last month.

The Red Lynxes surprised everyone when they claimed a 2-1 victory against the Germans in March; however, Hansi Flick's men were able to get their revenge, thanks to strikes from Timo Werner (2), Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala.

That result has seen Blagoja Milevski's side slip down to third place, following Romania's win against Armenia. Nevertheless, the Red Lynxes will be confident of claiming maximum points in their final two matches against the Mountaineers and Iceland as they seek to reclaim second spot.

North Macedonia – who are 74th in the FIFA world rankings – have an impressive record away from home in World Cup Qualifying, losing only one of their last seven matches.

The Red Lynxes have also been clinical in front of goal during this run, after scoring at least two goals in five of their last seven away games, including each of their last four.

Armenia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

Armenia form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

North Macedonia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L

North Macedonia form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • L

Team News

Armenia boss Caparros will have to cope without four players due to suspension, with Sargis Adamyan, Eduard Spertsyan, Taron Voskanyan and Varazdat Haroyan all to watch on from the sidelines.

Voskanyan and Haroyan would have been Caparros's first-choice centre-back pairing; however, 35-year-old Hrayr Mkoyan and Andre Calisir are expected to be handed starts in the heart of the defence as a result.

Roma playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan will captain the side and could start for the third successive game on the left side of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation, with Khoren Bayramyan operating on the opposite flank.

As for North Macedonia, they will be without defender Stefan Ristovski through suspension, while midfielder Erdal Rakip and forward Adis Jahovic have pulled out of the squad this month due to injury.

After national hero Goran Pandev retired from international football in the summer, the Red Lynxes will now need to rely on striker Milan Ristovski as well as wingers Aleksandar Trajkovski and Darko Churlinov to pose a threat in the final third.

Napoli's Eljif Elmas is set to pull the strings in midfield and he could be joined in the middle of the pitch by Enis Bardhi and Stefan Spriovski.

Armenia possible starting lineup:
Yurchenko; Terteryan, Mkoyan, Calisir, Hovhannisyan; Bayramyan, Udo, Grigoryan, Mkhitaryan; Karapetyan, Briasco

North Macedonia possible starting lineup:
Dimitrievski; Todoroski, Velkovski, Musliu, Alioski; Bardhi, Spirovski, Elmas; Churlinov, Ristovski, Trajkovski

We say: Armenia 1-1 North Macedonia

Both Armenia and North Macedonia know that a victory in this encounter will boost their hopes of reaching their first-ever World Cup tournament, especially if Romania were also to drop points against Iceland.

A goalless draw was played out in the reverse fixture between these two nations in September, and with little to separate them this time around, the spoils could be shared once again on Thursday.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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