Having already landed one successful international Home Heroes this season, I am relying on Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia to defend my 100% record this week.
The Czechs have a home tie against Malta, a side who have only won away once in a qualifier in their entire history, while Slovenia face similarly poor travellers Cyprus and in-form Slovakia host out-of-sorts Latvia.
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Czech Republic to beat Malta @ 3/50
Lowly Malta sit 153rd in the FIFA world rankings and haven’t won away from home in a World Cup or European Championship qualifier since they beat Estonia in Tallinn in 1993 – still to this day their only away victory ever in a competitive match. More recently, they have lost their first two games of this campaign to Armenia and Italy, making it 12 defeats in their last 13 qualifying games.
Czech Republic haven’t scored in their last four international matches but they put up a decent show at Euro 2012 in the summer and did hold Denmark to a goalless draw away from home in their only World Cup qualifying match so far.
They have never failed to beat Malta in a home match before and they shouldn’t fail to beat them here either.
Slovenia to beat Cyprus @ 9/20
Cyprus haven’t won an international match away from home since August 2007 and even that was a narrow 1-0 win over arguably the weakest possible opposition in San Marino.
With defeats in both of their two opening qualifying matches, Slovenia have certainly seen better days and in fact, Cyprus currently sit above them in the Group E table following a 1-0 home win over Iceland in their last match. But the visitors on Friday haven’t won away from home against a team above them in the world rankings since a 2-1 friendly win over Greece in Athens in 2001 and Slovenia are ranked a full 72 places higher in the latest FIFA standings.
Slovakia to beat Latvia @ 2/5
Slovakia have made a decent start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, following up a 1-1 draw away to Lithuania with a 2-0 home win over Liechtenstein. That followed a 3-1 win away to Denmark in a pre-campaign friendly match in August, so they go into Friday’s match with Latvia on a good run of form.
Latvia, on the other hand, have lost their opening three games this season, following up a 2-0 friendly defeat in Montenegro with a 2-1 home defeat to Greece and a 4-1 thrashing by Bosnia Herzegovina in their first two qualifiers.
On top of this, Slovakia have played Latvia twice at home in their relatively short histories and have won both matches convincingly by 4-1 and 3-1 scorelines. Another comfortable home victory is on the cards here.
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