Our football match prediction:
Following three consecutive wins over the likes of Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Albania, Israel suffered a heavy 4-1 loss to Spain in their last qualifier. Anyhow, Elisha Levy’s men remained in the race for a place at the 2018 World Cup finals and, no doubt, Sunday’s football game against Albania is of big importance for the hosts. The Albanians participated at the 2016 European Championship in France, but they have been struggling in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with the team suffering three consecutive defeats in the process. Giovanni De Biasi’s men suffered a dip in form and they are unlikely to put an end to their five-game losing run in all competitions. The two teams meet for the first time ever in Israel and you should bear in mind that Elisha Levy’s troops outclassed the Albanians 3-0 in the reverse fixture at Elbasan Arena.
Highlighted Player (Lior Refaelov):
Lior Rafaelov is an Israeli footballer playing as an attacking midfielder for the Belgium giants with whom he has been a mainstay since his arrival in 2011. Rafaelov began his career at Maccabi Haifa where he played 161 league appearances and scored 30 goals before moving to Belgium. The experienced 30-year-old Israel international has made his senior debut for his country in 2007 and has since earned over 30 caps for Israel. Lior Rafaelov is a player of vast international experience despite the fact Club Brugge are his first and so far only club in Europe. The 30-year-old attacking midfielder is a major force upfront who has scored six times during Brugge’s Europa League campaign in 2014-15, while he also scored the winner in the Belgian Cup final to earn his club a first trophy in eight years. Last season Rafaleov repeated the feat, having scored in the 2016 Belgian Cup Final, but it wasn’t enough for Club Brugge to avoid getting defeated 2-1 to Standard Liege.
Highlighted Team (Albania):
The Albanian national football team has represented the country on international stage since 1946, and it is interesting to note that Albania was one of the founding members of UEFA back in 1954. The Eagles have enjoyed very little success in the 20th century, but they managed to show some improvement at the turn of the century and eventually secured their first ever appearance at a major tournament. Albania qualified for the Euro 2016 finals as they came second in their qualifying group behind Portugal, taking 14 points from 8 matches, with Italian coach Gianni De Biasi at the helm. The Eagles have never qualified for the World Cup finals in 11 attempts, winning mere 14 of 94 World Cup qualifiers. Former Lazio defender Lorik Cana has worn the captain’s armband over the last few years and he is Albania’s most capped player, while former Chievo forward Erjon Bogdani still holds the record for most goals for the national team, with 18 strikes in 74 appearances.