New Zealand and China meet for a second international friendly in three days when the sides lock horns at the Sky Stadium in Wellington on Sunday. Their encounter on Thursday ended in a 0-0 draw, despite witnessing 19 shots. Fourteen of them came from the Dragon’s Team, who mustered eight of those on target while having only 42% possession.
The visitors failed to break down a sturdy All Whites team who were reduced to 10 men in the second half after Tommy Smith was sent off in the 63rd minute. China will obviously be disappointed with their Auckland performance and hope for a better result in the next one to make amends.
Experienced forward Wu Lei, who has 27 goals in 79 appearances, will most likely start once more as he needs just one more goal to become the joint second-highest goalscorer in his nation’s history. However, Wei Shihao could join him in attack, relegating Tan Long to the bench.
Shanghai Port defender Li Ang is another player gunning to start after being an unused substitute on the bench last time. New Zealand, meanwhile, will be frustrated at not being able to capitalize on their dominance on the ball and head coach Darren Bazeley could ring in a few changes to his lineup.
For starters, Alex Greive could come in place of Max Mata as the striker upfront, with veteran midfielder Marco Rojas also gunning to come back into the XI. However, goalkeeper Oliver Sail might keep his place in goal ahead of Stefan Marinovic as a reward for his heroic display on Thursday.
New Zealand are just not at their best at the moment and China will look to make amends for their missed opportunities by picking up a win here.
Prediction: New Zealand 0-2 China
This match will start from 8:30 am
This match will take place on 26 March 2023
The huge absentee hanging over New Zealand comes in the unmistakeable shape of Nottingham Forest striker Chris Wood; the Premier League goal-getter did not feature in the first friendly while nursing a hamstring injury which his national team’s coaching staff are reluctant to reveal much about.
Wood, the country’s captain and all-time record goalscorer, is the last player to find the net for New Zealand against a team outside their continent, converting a penalty in a friendly with Jordan 14 months ago.
Given the friendly status of the fixtures, White is not suspended after his red card but may not be tossed straight back into the starting XI given the clumsy nature of his cynical challenge.
Curiously, China did not name their starting XI until a matter of minutes before kick off, leaving their hosts guessing until the players trotted onto the pitch for the opening whistle.
Sail; Boxall, Payne, Pijnaker; Elliot, Stamenic, Rufer, Cacace; Barbarouses, Mata, Garbett
Yan; Zhang, Zhu, Wei, Y Liu; B Liu, Xu, X Wu, Lin; L Wei, Tan
We say: New Zealand 0-0 China
New Zealand are ranked 25 places below China, but the hosts were arguably the better side before being reduced to 10 men – even if Bazeley’s insistence that they were “awesome” is something of a stretch.
With the full compliment on the pitch for 90 minutes, New Zealand have an even better chance of avoiding defeat once again – although, that debilitating goal drought threatens to drag on if Wood continues to be sidelined.
Tip 1 – Result: China
Tip 2 – Goals over/under 2.5: Under 2.5
Tip 3 – Both teams to score: No
Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats, suggests the most likely outcome of this match is a New Zealand win with a probability of 63.99%. A draw has a probability of 20.6% and a win for China has a probability of 15.44%.
The most likely scoreline for a New Zealand win is 2-0 with a probability of 11.26%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome are 1-0 (11.14%) and 2-1 (9.87%). The likeliest drawn scoreline is 1-1 (9.77%), while for a China win it is 0-1 (4.83%).
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