Georgia vs Moldova by Sweem
In one of the least attractive fixtures judging by the menu and entertainment level, we turn the eyes to Tbilisi and the mighty Boris Paichadze Stadium. To offer a background story, Georgia is a football country I have followed personally for the last 7 years or so, which also led me to explore and play with my knowledge of their domestic football by being part of doing research and database edits for the famous online game 'Football Manager'. For that reason, I am always keeping an eye on how Georgia are doing, and along with Sweden are the teams and nations I follow with a passion. That being said, despite this being a fixture of two minor teams, it will be the game to watch personally, and I believe there is a betting value as well, which will be covered below.
For the first time in 6 years, Georgia is now led by a foreign coach, Vladimir Weiss, the Slovakian coach was appointed earlier this year to try and introduce a better organization, as well as implementing a stronger winning mentality. His biggest achievement as a coach was to take the Slovakian national team to a major tournament, namely World Cup in 2010. The previous coaches Kakhaber Tskhadadze and Temur Ketsbaia did not enjoy much success, and from a federation point of view, it was a logic choice to appoint a foreign man in charge and perhaps come with a more international mindset of taking the next step.
The Georgians have had a good start of their campaign in terms of performance on the pitch, but their points have not reflected their positive performances. It began at home versus Austria, where they suffered a 1-2 loss, but we could already see what Weiss have managed to implement in the team in terms of daring to be a dictating side, regardless of opponents. They continued with a 1-0 loss away against Ireland, but once again - created more chances, and saw more possession than their opponents. The same pattern continued against Wales away, a 1-1 tie was deserved and once again, Georgia created more chances than Wales.
They are technically gifted and have just recently appointed a coach who dares to focus on the offensive qualities for once, and not be the team to sit back. Georgia will now have an excellent opportunity to practice this against a side like Moldova, who are weaker on paper and have shown weaknesses in defense by conceding 10 goals in the first three matches. The home factor for the Georgians, along with a confidence boost after grabbing a point in Wales does plant a seed of inspiration in the team as a unit.
There are a bunch of interesting names to keep an eye on from a host perspective, the tricky Tornike Okriashvili is usually the creator of scoring chances and takes many initiatives to go forward. Jano Ananidze has been seen as a talented offensive midfielder for a while but have looked fully mature in the qualifiers so far. Positive news for the hosts, is that team captain (midfielder) Jaba Kankava seems to be able to play against Moldova.
Moldova have already decided to be the 'punching bag' in this group, and the confidence level is poor after a horrible start. To make a quick comparison, Moldova also played Wales away, and lost 4-0 while only managing 3 scoring chances. This puts a bit of a perspective in what they will likely face in Tbilisi, a newly born team with confidence, who goes forward and takes many teams by surprise. Another big defeat was 0-3 at home against Serbia, and 1-3 at home against Ireland. The pattern is clear - Moldova have huge troubles to defend and this will not be enough to avoid further losses if it continues.
The summary is that Georgia is a nation on the rise, who have actually taken a whole new approach in how to play football and how to develop. Moldova on the other side have not taken any actions to improve, or think in the larger perspective with ambitions. This is expected to be a long 90 minutes and if Georgia continues with their possession and attacking based football we have seen in the first three matches, this could end up with one, two or three goals in the Moldovan net depending on the home efficiency.