Saturday’s football schedule is dominated by UEFA World Cup qualifying matches, and we’re looking to the BTTS for a winning treble. Unlike most weeks, though, we’re opting for at least one team in each game to fire a blank.
International matches are often more one-sided and less exciting. When added to the fact that many players have been on their summer breaks for the past 2-3 weeks, there’s a good chance that goals could be at a premium.
Let’s hope that will be the case here.
Slovenia v Malta
In Group F, Slovenia still have a very good chance of securing second place behind England, and their strong defensive record is the main reason. Frankly, a home game against the minnows of Malta should result in a shutout.
Sreko Katanec’s men have kept three clean sheets in three international home games this term, including qualifiers against England and Slovakia. It should be a quiet night for the home defence and, with Jan Oblak in goal, they would be fancied to handle any threat with relative ease.
After all, Malta haven’t scored on the road in this qualifying campaign while they also lost 1-0 in the reverse clash. They may have picked up a 1-0 friendly win over Ukraine on Tuesday, but any attacking line-up that could include the veteran Michael Mifsud is unlikely to pose any real danger.
Slovenia aren’t the most frequent scorers themselves. Even if they do find the net as expected, though, a predicted clean sheet means that the BTTS winner is unlikely.
Lithuania v Slovakia
Staying in Group F, Slovakia head to Vilnius knowing that a win would keep them in pole position to grab the play-off spot heading into the new season. While they may have to work for the result, Jan Kozak’s side really should have enough quality to prevail.
Slovakia registered a 4-0 win in the reverse clash back in November and, while they’ve conceded 10 in their last three games alone, they should be confident about keeping the hosts quiet. After all, Lithuania have lost each of their last three without scoring a goal.
A team largely comprised of players in the Lithuanian league have hit four goals in just two home qualifiers, but history shows that they usually struggle against any real quality. Given that even skipper Fiodor Cernych, one of the few to ply his trade eslewhere, has only scored eight in 32 appearances, it doesn’t look great.
Lithuania would be more than happy with a 0-0. While we don’t think they can frustrate the visitors for a full 90 minutes, a pretty drab affair is expected.
Norway v Czech Republic
In Group C, Norway host Czech Republic knowing that their hopes of qualification are already dead after picking up just three points from the first five matches of their campaign. Sadly for Lars Lagerback’s men, it’s likely to be another disappointment.
A quick glance at the table shows that Norway boast four goals in just two home games. However, the fact they all came against San Marino is telling, especially as they’ve registered just one in three away games.
That goal did come against Saturday’s opponents, which may provide a source of optimism for the home fans. Having said that, the Czechs are still fighting Northern Ireland for a play-off spot, and that additional motivation could make all the difference.
It’s hard to read too much into the away side’s record on the road, as they thrashed San Marino after being brushed aside by Germany. This one is likely to be a lot closer, but we do think they’ll win to nil.