Macedonia faces Armenia today in a game all about pride for the Macedonian players while Armenia will have strong support from the home fans as they look to continue their improbable run on their way to a possible top 2 finish in the group.
Manager John Toshack has still not announced the formation for Macedonia. It is expected that Toshack will either field a 3-5-2 formation or stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation which was employed in the qualifiers played last month. Toshack went with a 3-5-2 formation during the test game on Tuesday between the senior national team and the U21 team but he was not satisfied with the performance as the players did not seem comfortable in the new system so he might shift back to the 4-2-3-1 formation.
These upcoming games do not mean anything to Macedonia regarding the final standings in Group B of the EURO 2012 qualifications. Macedonia has already secured a fifth place finish regardless of the results against Armenia and Slovakia. However, Toshack was just appointed manager several months ago and the players will be motivated to impress Toshack so they can remain in the picture for the 2014 World Cup qualifications. Toshack has only managed two games so he is still in the process of evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each player.
Any individual who plays uninspired football might never receive another call up by Toshack in the future so there will be motivation to play well. Several players are only on the squad because of injuries so this is their opportunity to make an impression on Toshack.
Armenia has been the biggest surprise in the group thus far. They are playing with tremendous confidence right now and their biggest strength seems to be teamwork. They work for one another and although Armenia does not feature any big name players, they have become a formidable opponent. In the last game, Armenia recorded an impressive 4:0 road win over Slovakia.
The game has been sold out and the Armenian players will receive strong support from the fans but also added pressure to win the game. Armenia will need to maintain the pressure on their closest competitors in the group so a win is needed in this game. Meanwhile, Macedonia has nothing to lose and that philosophy worked last month when Macedonia outplayed Russia for large portions of the game on the road. Toshack is hoping for a similar performance against Armenia with the exception of the score as Russia notched a minimal 1:0 victory in that game.
To date, Macedonia has played Armenia five times and has recorded two wins, two draws, and one loss with a goal difference of +3. In the last meeting on 7 September 2010, Macedonia was held to a 2:2 home draw by needing a late penalty from Ilco Naumoski in the sixth minute of stoppage time to collect a point. The other goal for Macedonia was scored by Mario Gjurovski.
The match will be played at the Hanrapetakan Stadium in Yerevan with the game scheduled to start at 17:00 CET. UEFA has assigned Robert Schörgenhofer from Austria to referee the match which will be televised on MTV in Macedonia.
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