Ace Football previews the World Cup qualifier between Albania and England, and offers the latest stats, tips, and team news.
It’s a top-of-the-table clash in Group I as Albania and England square off for the first time in almost two decades at the Arena Kombetare for round two of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign.
The two sides sit level on three points on top of Group I, having won their respective opening fixtures. England are ahead due to a superior goal difference after smashing five goals past San Marino, while Albania edged past Andorra 1-0 in their opener.
The grit and determination shown by the hosts last week deserves respect, but will that alone be enough? England are a different beast compared to Andorra, have several big-hitters charged up, and have plenty of quality in their ranks.
Albania Form & Stats
Ermir Lenjani’s first-half goal was enough to seal a convincing 1-0 win over Andorra. Albania had 74% possession and made 515 passes compared to their opponents’ 125, but only four of their 14 shots were on target. Now they head home for arguably their biggest test in Group I.
Edoardo Reja’s side, of course, are nothing like FIFA’s worst-ranked team in San Marino. They’re in 66th-place instead, on a four-match winning run across all competitions, and unbeaten in their last six fixtures overall (W4 D2).
Albania also tend to be tough to break down at home. They’ve lost only three of their previous 10 outings at home (W6 D1) against Turkey, France, Lithuania by no more than a two-goal margin. Over 2.5 goals, meanwhile, came in just half of their Euro 2020 qualifiers, suggesting England may not enjoy another goal feast this time around.
Key Team Stats
- On a four-match winning run in all competitions – their best run since August 2010.
- Unbeaten in their last 6 games in all competitions (W4 D2).
- Lost 3 of their last 10 home games in all competitions (W6 D1).
- Hope to seal back-to-back wins in their World Cup qualifying campaign for the second time in a row.
England Form & Stats
Five goals, four different scorers, and a clean sheet ensured England began their World Cup qualification campaign in style. Of course, the opposition was San Marino, so few conclusions can be drawn. Nevertheless, it was a superb victory and the only slight negative was an inability to convert more of the chances created.
Gareth Southgate’s men need to be more clinical for the visit to Albania. The Three Lions only scored one goal in their last three away games in the Nations League; courtesy of an injury-time Raheem Sterling penalty against Iceland. But while the goals haven’t always come, they’ve delivered five clean sheets in the previous seven trips.
Harry Kane, who has scored in each of his last seven away qualifying games, is set to return. The England captain has been in superb form all season for Tottenham and should be refreshed after sitting out of the San Marino match. And with some young talented subs, Southgate has no shortage of options to break the Albania defense.
Key Team Stats
- Won each of their last 4 games against Albania, including 3 of them to nil.
- Lost only 2 of their last 29 away World Cup qualifying games (W19 D8) to Northern Ireland (2005) and Ukraine (2009).
- Kept 9 clean sheets in their last 12 games in all competitions.
- Scored in both halves in 8 of their last 9 wins.
- Nick Pope could become the first England keeper to keep a clean sheet in his first 6 appearances.
- Harry Kane has scored in each of his last 7 away qualifying games in the Euros/World Cup.
Out: Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka.
Doubts: Kyle Walker.
(Note: The image will change to the official XI once they’re both announced)
|05/09/01||World Cup qualifier||England||2 – 0||Albania|
|28/03/01||World Cup qualifier||Albania||1 – 3||England|
|26/04/89||World Cup qualifier||England||5 – 0||Albania|
|08/03/89||World Cup qualifier||Albania||0 – 2||England|
Below are some head-to-head stats on each team’s recent form in the World Cup.