Finland v Lichtenstein – Telia 5G –areena at 17:00 Live at Sky Sports
Finland have never previously qualified for a major tournament but the current crop of Eagle Owls are on the brink of ending that rotten record. Markku Kanerva’s men know a positive performance in one of their final two fixtures will secure a spot in next summer’s European Championship.
With Italy running away with top spot in the pool, it’s been up to Finland, Armenia, Bosnia and Greece to battle it out for second. The Eagle Owls clinched top honours in their four encounters – excluding games against Italy – before a deflating 4-1 defeat against Bosnia threatened to derail their campaign.
But Kanerva’s charges responded superbly, pocketing a thrilling 3-0 victory over Armenia in October to put qualification in Finland’s hands. Star striker Teemu Pukki said, “It was important after the loss to Bosnia to get a good result and play a good game. This is now a very good base for us ahead of the final two games.”
Lichtenstein unlikely to match the Finns
Finland now just need to beat Liechtenstein in Helsinki to book their place and the hosts should be well capable of clinching that result against their rock-bottom opponents on Friday night. The Blue-Reds are winless in the qualification campaign and lost 2-0 when the teams met in Vaduz back in June.
The visitors have avoided defeat just six times in 35 matches since 2015 and have been on the end of a few thrashings during that sample against Europe’s leading lights. However, Finland rarely put opposition outfits to the sword and aren’t renowned for running up cricket scores against smaller nations.
Last month’s Armenia effort was the first time since 2011the Eagle Owls had registered a competitive victory by more than two goals and the numbers suggest a relatively low-scoring contest could be on the cards when defensively-minded Liechtenstein rock up for the decisive Helsinki match-up.
Head-to-head fans will be keen to hear the last three meetings between the pair have produced Under 2.5 Goals profit and the hosts have kept their visitors scoreless in four of their last six on home soil. But the Finns have also scored more than twice just once in their most recent 17 outings.
Liechtenstein have managed one goal in four away qualifiers thus far. The minnows have also kept their opposition to notching fewer than three goals in nine of their most recent 14 encounters, suggesting they could frustrate the eager hosts with a safety-first approach.
Under 2.5 Goals has landed in six of Finland’s last nine outings in Helsinki and Liechtenstein have delivered Under 3.5 Goals in nine of their previous 14 away days, making the 1.81 offering on a repeat well worthy of our interest.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 3.50 goals at 1.810
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