Cyprus - Spain predictions and free betting tips [16/11/2023]
On Thursday, 16th November, as part of the 9th round of the Euro 2024 qualifying tournament, the national team of Cyprus will face off against Spain's national squad. The visitors are in the thick of the fight for first place in the group against Scotland, while the 'islanders' have flopped this campaign and are eager to put this dismal stretch behind them as soon as possible.
Cyprus: Panagi; Andreou, Karo, Kiprianou, Gogić, Ioannou; Kiriakou, Charalambous, Kousoulos; Loizou, Kakoullis.
Spain: Simón; Carvajal, Torres, Le Normand, Grimaldo; Merino, Rodri, Gavi; Iamal, Morata, Oyarzabal.
The match will take place in Kolossi at the eponymous stadium.
As is often the case in the qualifying campaigns of major international tournaments, Cyprus's national team has to settle for the bottom rungs of the tournament table. The same has happened in the current qualifying Group A, where the hosts have not gained a single point in 6 rounds. Hence, it is entirely logical that the islanders will not participate in the final round of the Euro, which will occur in Germany in June next year. Since September, the Cypriots have not scored a single goal and have suffered heavy losses to Scotland (0:3), Spain (6:0), Norway (0:4), and Georgia (4:0), with the latter’s victory being sealed with goals courtesy of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Otar Kiteishvili, Levan Shengelia, and Giorgi Mikautadze. Moreover, the 'islanders' scored just two goals over these past matches and conceded 25 – defensive statistics surpassed only by San Marino. Notably, even the microstate only conceded one more goal.
Additionally, these two countries, alongside Liechtenstein, Malta, and Gibraltar, are the only Euro qualifiers yet to secure a win. The vast majority of the Cypriot squad is practically unknown to the wider circle of fans, given that most of the players called up for this assembly defend the colours of clubs from the relatively weak local league. The most experienced - Andreou (Charleroi), Laifis (Standard Liège) and Ioannou (Como), plus Gogić (St Mirren) and Kastanos (Salernitana) - play abroad. The team's best player in attack is Sotiriou (59 caps, 12 goals), who plays for 'Sanfrecce Hiroshima'. Veteran Christofi (9 goals in 70 matches) and strikers Pittas (AIK, 34 matches, 3 goals and Tzionis (Sporting Kansas City, 24 matches, 2 goals) also deserve recognition.
Following their last-16 appearance at the end of last year in Qatar, Spain struggled to get off to a good start in the Euro qualifiers, losing 2:0 in Scotland in the first round. However, since then, 'La Roja' have hit fine form, beating Croatia in June this year in the Finals 4 of the Nations League and notching up a string of successes in Group A. With a very strong squad, 'La Roja' easily dispatched of Georgia (1:7) and Cyprus (6:0) in September, followed by victories over Scotland (2:0) and Norway (0:1). Alvaro Morata's goal was disallowed for offside, but Gavi broke down the Scandinavians' defence four minutes into the second half. Spain has gathered 15 points with identical points tally to Scotland in Group A for the race to top spot. However, they are ahead on goal difference.
Luis de la Fuente decided to do without Franco-Spanish defender Laporte (Al-Nassr), Barcelona players Pedri and Balde, as well as Dani Olmo (Leipzig) and Asensio (PSG). Moreover, experienced Nacho (Real Madrid), Koke (Atletico), and Azpilicueta (Atletico) are missing from the squad. Otherwise, the list is very similar to the one compiled last month. It includes Carvajal (Real Madrid), Le Normand (Real Sociedad), Pau Torres (Aston Villa), midfielders Rodri (Manchester City), Zubimendi (Real Sociedad) and Gavi (Barcelona), forwards Morata (Atletico, 34 matches, 68 goals), and Ferran Torres (Barcelona, 17 goals in 38 matches). The Basque winger Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad, 25 matches, 6 goals) and Madrid's Joselu (4 goals in 8 matches) are also noteworthy.
The Spaniards thrashed Cyprus 6:0 in September, and this victory marked 'La Roja's' eighth win in the last nine face-offs against the 'islanders'.
Prediction for the Cyprus - Spain match
Although de la Fuente might be tempted to make significant rotation compared to the previous rounds, first place in the group isn't guaranteed, which means that 'La Roja' won't be lacking motivation. The Cypriots have completely bungled this qualifying round and will be hard-pressed to put up a decent struggle. I expect an away win with a -3 handicap.
Spain have managed to score 19 goals in 6 rounds, while Cyprus have conceded the same period's 25 goals. I recommend betting on Spain's individual total over 3.