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Slovakia VS Malta, Slovakia will be the favourites to triumph on Saturday
Match Time：3/28/2021 03:45 Sunday (GMT+8)
FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA) -- Slovakia VS Malta
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Slovakia will be looking to secure their first three points in Group H when they continue their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign at home to Malta on Saturday night.
Stefan Tarkovic's side will enter the match off the back of a goalless draw with Cyprus on Thursday, while Malta suffered a 3-1 loss to Russia in their group opener on the same night.
Group H looks incredibly open, with Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Croatia all arguably battling for first position, meaning that it could be a tough campaign for both Malta and Cyprus.
Slovakia would have been looking to make a winning start against Cyprus on Wednesday, but the points were shared in a goalless draw in Nicosia, with the visitors ultimately left frustrated.
The Falcons have only ever qualified for one World Cup, famously reaching the round of 16 in 2010, but they won six of their 10 qualification matches for the 2018 competition, ultimately finishing behind England.
Slovakia will be present at this summer's European Championships, meanwhile, with a 2-1 victory over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in November sending Tarkovic's side to the finals.
Saturday's clash is even more important for the home team considering that their next game is against Russia on March 30, and they will be determined to enter that clash with four points on the board.
Malta had been on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions entering Thursday's clash with Russia, but the hosts were unable to avoid defeat at the Ta'Qali National Stadium.
Joseph Mbong got his name on the scoresheet in the 56th minute, but Russia scored twice in the first half before netting another late on as the visitors recorded a 3-1 victory.
There were certainly signs of improvement from Denis Mangia's side, though, and the Reds will believe that they are capable of making it difficult for Slovakia on Saturday evening.
Malta have never qualified for the finals of a major tournament, and they have only won one match in their last six qualification campaigns combined, which is an indication of the size of their task in Group H.
There is once again plenty of experience at the back in the shape of Steve Borg and Andrei Agius, but Mangia has selected a youthful attack, with teenagers Alexander Satariano and Paul Mbong both included, and the fact that they had five shots on target against Russia is a huge positive.
Slovakia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:D
Slovakia form (all competitions):LLWWLD
Malta World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:L
Malta form (all competitions):DWWWDL
Slovakia boss Tarkovic is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack for this match, with the bulk of the side that started against Cyprus set to keep their positions.
There could be a change in the final third of the field, though, with Michal Duris potentially coming in for Robert Bozenik in the centre-forward position.
The home side's XI will again include familiar faces in the shape of Newcastle United's Martin Dubravka, Inter Milan's Milan Skriniar and Parma's Juraj Kucka.
As for Malta, Mangia is unlikely to make many changes from the side that started against Russia, with the same back three likely to take to the field, with Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli in the wing-back positions.
There could be alterations in the final third, though, with Satariano and Paul Mbong both impressing in the second half on Thursday, meaning that the pair could come into the XI.
Steve Pisani is also an option for change in a midfield area, but Matthew Guillaumier is again expected to be given the nod in the middle of the park alongside Bjorn Kristensen.
Slovakia possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Pekarik, Skriniar, Hancko, Hubocan; Kucka, Hrosovsky, Bero; Duda, Duris, Rusnak
Malta possible starting lineup:
Bonello; Shaw, Agius, Borg; J Mbong, Kristensen, Guillaumier, Camenzuli; Teuma, Satariano, P Mbong
Slovakia 1-0 Malta
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