North Macedonia vs England recommended bets
North Macedonia vs England match preview
Can England conclude their Euro qualification campaign with a victory in Skopje?
On Friday night, the Three Lions were involved in a rather dull affair against Malta at Wembley, labouring to a 2-0 win, taking the lead through an early own goal, before Harry Kane made the points secure late on.
Even before this game, Gareth Southgate’s team had rubber stamped top spot in Group C, doing so following last month’s come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Italy in North London.
Overall, England have won six out of seven in this group, their sole dropped points coming in Wrocław in September, held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine back then.
Here, the Euro 2020 finalists know that only a victory will ensure they’re in pot 1 for the final tournament draw, thereby avoiding fellow heavyweights Germany, France, Portugal, Spain and Belgium in the group phase.
Well, given that North Macedonia were smashed 7-0 at Old Trafford in June, Bukayo Saka bagging a hat-trick that night in Manchester, an away win does seem likely.
Despite what that scoreline may suggest, the Red Lynxes are a team on the rise, most-notably making their major tournament debut at the most-recent Euros.
Since then, they’ve enjoyed away qualifying victories over both Germany and Italy, although Blagoja Milevski’s team haven’t quite been as impressive in 2023, so have been eliminated from contention.
North Macedonia have only seven points on the board, six of which have been accumulated against pointless Malta, while the highlight of their campaign was, undoubtedly, holding Italy to a 1-1 draw in September.
In the reverse fixture at Stadio Olimpico on Friday night, the visitors were 3-0 down by half time, only for substitute Jani Atanasov to score a brace, thereby setting up a nervy finish in the Eternal City.
Nevertheless, the reigning European Champions did score twice late on, condemning North Macedonia to defeat in Rome.
Ahead of this clash, England have won both previous visits to Toše Proeski Arena, 2-1 in 2003 and 1-0 three years later, with another away win likely here.
North Macedonia team news
Left-wing-back Ezgjan Alioski will be a familiar face to Leeds United supporters, having spent four seasons in West Yorkshire before leaving for current employers Al-Ahli.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano) Elif Elmas (Napoli) and captain Enis Bardhi (Trabzonspor) all have plenty of high-level European experience.
Jani Atanasov’s brace at Stadio Olimpico, his first and second international goals, should see him come into midfield.
With Aleksandar Trajkovski and Ilija Nestorovski injury doubts, Bojan Miovski, who’s scored 28 goals for Aberdeen since the start of last season, will lead the line.
Predicted XI (3-4-2-1): Dimitrievski; Serafimov, Musliu, Manev; Dimoski, Atanasov, Ademi, Alioski; Elmas, Bardhi, Miovski.
England team news
Kieran Trippier withdrew from the squad on Sunday, meaning he, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell, Levi Colwill, Lewis Dunk, John Stones, Reece James, Jude Bellingham, James Maddison and Callum Wilson are all out injured.
Fikayo Tomori filled-in as a makeshift left-back against Malta, winning just his fifth cap, and could be asked to do the same again here.
Elsewhere, Trent Alexander-Arnold will keep his place in midfield while, after coming off the bench at Wembley, Arsenal duo Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka could return to the XI.
Rico Lewis and Ezri Konsa are dreaming of making their senior international debuts, having seen Cole Palmer do just that on Friday night.
Harry Kane has scored eight times in Euro qualifying, taking his tally to 62 for England three nights ago, so most would expect him to find the back of the net yet again.
Predicted XI (4-3-3): Pickford; Walker, Maguire, Guéhi, Tomori; Rice, Alexander-Arnold, Foden; Saka, Grealish, Kane.