Malta faces Luxembourg in a friendly match at the Stade de Luxembourg on Friday, kick-off at 20:15. A match which forms part of the team’s preparation in view of the European Qualifiers against England on at the National Stadium on June 16 and Ukraine three days later in Trnava, Slovakia.
With domestic competitions ending on May 1, locally-based national team players convened for a training camp one week later and have been training together since then in order to be in the best shape possible ahead of these two qualifiers.
Speaking on the eve of the game, Malta national teams head coach Michele Marcolini spoke about the challenges of finding the right balance between player rest and training and expressed satisfaction with the players’ commitment and involvement during the training camp that focused on tactical and physical preparation.
This game not only serves as a chance to secure a win but also provides an opportunity to evaluate new players. However, the coach emphasized that the match preparation remains consistent with their approach to any other game, emphasizing the desire to win.
The Malta coach added that Luxembourg boasts a cohesive team with a coach who has been leading them for over a decade. This has resulted in consistency within the team.
Luxembourg, in fact, did quite well in recent outings, finishing second in League C Group 1 last year, behind Turkiye and ahead of Faroe Islands and Lithuania. They registered away wins over Lithuania and Faroe Islands, defeating Lithuania at home, drew 3-3 with Turkey away from home and 2-2 with Faroe Islands at home. In two friendly matches in November 2022, they drew with Hungary and Bulgaria. In March, earlier this year, Luxembourg earned a point in a goalless draw with Slovakia but then lost 0-6 to Portugal at home.
Marcolini acknowledged their quality players and their attacking style, which involves the involvement of multiple players. Therefore, the team needs to maintain vigilance against their attacking threats. However, Marcolini hopes that Malta will find opportunities to exploit space and pose a threat to the Luxembourg defence.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
Enrico Pepe and Teddy Teuma failed to make the trip to Luxembourg as they are both recovering from injuries. The latter’s presence, even for the two European Qualifiers against England and Ukraine, is still in doubt after he sustained an injury in the final league match for Union Saint-Gilloise on Sunday.
Jake Galea, Luke Tabone, James Brown, Adam Magri Overend, Brandon Paiber and Paul Mbong were also left out of the squad.
The squad which travelled to Luxembourg is in fact made up of:
Henry Bonello (Hamrun Spartans FC), Cain Formosa (Valletta FC), Matthew Grech (Sirens FC)
Ferdinando Apap (Hibernians FC), Jean Borg (Fidelis Andria – ITA), Steve Borg (Hamrun Spartans FC), Karl Micallef (Gudja United FC), Zach Muscat (Farense – POR), Kurt Shaw (Hibernians FC)
Cain Attard (Birkirkara FC), Juan Corbalan (Hamrun Spartans FC), Ryan Camenzuli (Hamrun Spartans FC), Jake Grech (Hibernians FC), Matthew Guillaumier (Hamrun Spartans FC), Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians FC), Adam Magri Overend (Floriana FC), Joseph Essien Mbong (Hamrun Spartans FC), Nikolai Muscat (Gzira FC), Steven Pisani (Gzira United FC), Yannick Yankam (Birkirkara FC)
Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians FC), Jodi Felice Jones (Notts County – ENG), Shaun Dimech (Valletta FC), Kyrian Nwoko (Santa Lucia FC), Alexander Satariano (Balzan FC), Luke Montebello (Hamrun Spartans)
Malta and Luxembourg met six times – two EURO qualifiers and four friendly matches. The two teams drew 1-1 in a friendly match at home in January 1970. In February 1995, Luxembourg defeated Malta 1-0 at Ta’ Qali in a EURO 96 qualifer and won 1-0 at home seven months later. Luxembourg hosted Malta in a friendly match in August 2003 in Esch-sur-Alzette – a game ending in a 1-1 draw while in June 2012, a Michael Mifsud brace handed Malta a 2-0 win at the Stade Josy Barthel. The two teams met once again in 2018 with Luxembourg winning 1-0 at Ta’ Qali.
The match will be controlled by Albanian referee Eldorjan Hamiti who will be assisted by assistant referees Rejdi Avdo and Ilir Tartaraj. Jérémy Muller from Luxembourg will be the fourth official.