Switzerland – Albania 11.09.2012
This could be a very difficult game for the hosts given that half of their team have Albanian roots, while the visiting fans are expected to outnumber their home counterparts in Luzern.
Even so, I just can’t look past Switzerland in this clash.
Switzerland had started to show a lot of improvement ever since experienced boss Ottmar Hitzfeld took over the national team, and they finally look to have matured enough to make it to a major tournament. Convincing friendly victories over Germany and Croatia were just a sign of things to come, whereas the Swiss proved their worth by recording a 2-0 away win over very good Slovenia side at the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. Switzerland are now expected to build on that victory and see off Albania, and I seriously doubt team’s Albanian ties will have such a huge outcome on the match. Switzerland are becoming a world-class side and I am sure Hitzfeld will ensure they experience no problems in what should be an easy home game. Valon Behrami, Admir Mehmedi, Blerim Dzemaili, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri are all players of Albanian descent and it remains to be seen whether Hitzfeld will leave some of them out of the starting line-up.
Match: Switzerland – Alabania 20.45h
League: World Cup Qual.
Our prediction: over 2.5 goals Odds: 1.85
Even when they were on top of their game, Albania would rarely bring points from the travels, even if they were a real force to be reckoned with at home. Seeing that the team have been on the major downtrend over the last few years, the visitors should be happy if they avoid a heavy defeat in Switzerland. Last time Albania won away in a competitive match was against Luxembourg back in 2007, so there is every chance that the 3-1 win over Cyprus at the start of the qualifying campaign will have no effect on the outcome of the game in Switzerland. The match in Luzern could feel like a home game because of the large number of Albanian people that will attend the clash, but I seriously doubt the visitors will be able to match their more illustrious opponents on the pitch.
I expekt to both to score but my call is over 2.5 goals.