On Friday afternoon, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan kick off their UEFA Nations League careers in a Division C match.
Both countries had dismal seasons in the previous edition, with Kazakhstan needing to survive the relegation playoffs to stay in the third tier.
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Kazakhstan Vs Azerbaijan Tips and Prediction
Kazakhstan found themselves in a two-legged playoff with Moldova to avoid sliding into the basement tier of teams after finishing last in their group during the previous campaign.
A stunning comeback in the away leg gave Moldova a 2-1 lead heading into the return leg, only for Moldova to win 1-0 in the second half of the tie to force a penalty shootout.
Kazakhstan was down 3-1 at one point, but a spectacular comeback saw them win 5-4, a victory that seemed significant in the context of their development as a team.
Despite this, the powers-that-be decided to bring in a new face in the dugout, with Magomed Adiyev taking over the reins just last month.
Kazakhstan has only won three of its 19 matches in all competitions since the start of international football in September 2020.
Azerbaijan has also had a difficult time, with only two victories in 22 matches, the most recent of which occurred exactly a year ago in Belarus.
When the two nations meet again next week, Gianni De Biasi will be aiming for a repeat performance, but his first priority will be to halt a 10-game losing skid.
Azerbaijan finished just two points above of bottom-placed Cyprus in the previous Nations League season, avoiding relegation thanks to a run of three goalless draws in a row.
With no goals scored in their recent defeats to Latvia and Malta, the pressure will be on them to improve in that section of the game in their next fixtures.
Because Slovakia is the overwhelming favorite to win the group, none of these teams can afford to lose their first match. A draw may not be advantageous, particularly for Kazakhstan, but we believe a low-scoring stalemate is the most likely result on Friday.