A potentially group deciding match is set to take place on Saturday in the UEFA Nations League for this Group 2B clash between group leaders Israel and third-place Albania at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. The exclusion of Russia in the Nations League tournament has thrown a wrench into the plans of Group 2B, as the remaining teams will now only play four total matches each instead of the usual six. The way the scheduling has worked out has resulted in Albania having a game in hand as they enter this fixture against Israel, who top the group with five points from their three matches. Albania has picked up just one point so far after a 1-1 away draw against Iceland before losing 2-1 at home to Israel in the second matchday. However, Albania would find themselves topping the group if they are able to win their remaining two fixtures while a draw would likely be enough for Israel although a win would guarantee their status as group winners.
Albania has been on a tough run of form since their impressive World Cup qualifying campaign which saw them almost beat out Poland to second-place in the group, finishing on 18 points to Poland’s 20 and England’s 26. Since then, Albania has yet to record a win in their five matches. However, there have been a few encouraging performances during that time to make us believe that they will soon snap out of their winless run. The Albanians narrowly lost out to Spain 2-1 away from home thanks to a 90th minute Spain winner in a friendly back in March and were arguably the better side in their 1-1 away draw to Iceland to kick off the Nations League group stage. The Eagles controlled 57% of the ball in their meeting with Iceland while also outshooting them 12-9 with nine of those shots coming inside the opposition penalty area. Israel carries a four match unbeaten run into this match and while this may look, on paper, like simply a case of an in-form team against an out of form team, it’s important to note that three of Israel’s last four matches ended in draws.