As we begin the new football season, all focus on the international football is squarely on the qualification of the teams towards the World Cup 2018 in Russia. The qualifying campaign is expected to finish by November 2017, and we will have a full host of qualifying games until then to decide who makes it to the finals.
Croatia are coming into this qualifying match against Kosovo after already drawing their first game against Turkey by a score of 1-1. This game became a bit more difficult due to absences to key players such as Modric and Loveren missing, but they should have enough firepower to deliver a positive result with the likes of Perisic, Mandzukic, Badelj, Pjaca, Borzovic and Kalinic to give them a strong team in order to deliver.
Kosov on the other hand are the youngest team in the qualifying campaign and have already started out positively with a surprising 1-1 draw against Finland away from home. Kosovo will face their first big team in a qualifying campaign and if anything is to go by the 6-1 thrashing they received from Turkey 2 years ago; a loss once again could be expected against a stronger Croatian team.
I expect Croatia to win this by a 2 goal margin, so Im backing them on the Asian Handicap in this encounter.
Italy come into their 2nd World Cup Qualifying matchup against one of their bitter rivals in recent times in Spain. Confidence will run through the Italians due to their strong performance in front of their opponents beating them 2-0 during the European Championships. The strongest point of the Italians in recent times has been their ability to defend their goal, which they have struggled over their last since that game against Spain. They drew 1-1 in regulation against Germany, followed by a 3-1 friendly lost to France and a 3-1 win against Israel away from home. With those struggles in mind, a lot of attention turns to their forwards in Pelle, Immobile and Sansone who have been in great form in front of goal so far this season and will be aiming to punish the Spanish defenders Ramos, Pique and keeper De Gea whose teams have been leaking a lot of goals in the recent times.
The offensive unit of Spain will welcome back Diego Costa who has been in good form heading into this fixture, along with Nolito and Silva in a front 3 lineup who have also been doing the business for their side Manchester City. They will be supported by Iniesta, Busquets and Koke who will be the engine room for the team and with the amount of possession football they play and the chances they create, they should be able of find the goal or an opportunity for their team mates. The Italian defence has been leaky and they have honestly been tired with the number of games that they have played this season for club and country, and that should make the them vulnerable for the form that Italian attack has had.
I expect both teams to score in an extremely open game that could see any side win.