If all things go to plan and to form, then England’s place in the final stages of Euro 2020 should be safely secured by the end of Thursday evening. England’s visitors to Wembley Stadium that night are Montenegro, who have little left to play for, and who have failed to show much quality even when they did.
- Game: England v Montenegro
- Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
- Kick-off: Thursday 14th November @ 7.45pm
Apart from a somewhat uncharacteristic blip in their lacklustre 2-1 defeat in the Czech Republic, England have cruised serenely through these qualifying stages.
Of their five wins, their lowest score was in their 4-0 home win against Bulgaria, while they scored five apiece at home to Czech Republic (5-0) and Kosovo (5-3), as well as in the return fixture in Montenegro (5-1), despite going behind to an early goal. They bounced back from the setback in Prague with a resounding 6-0 win in Bulgaria, silencing both a hostile crowd and their critics with an emphatic performance.
Montenegro have picked up just three points from their seven group games so far, having drawn both encounters with the even more disappointing Bulgarians 1-1 and 0-0, along with a 1-1 home draw against Kosovo. The two goals in those 1-1 draws are the only times that Montenegro have breached their opponents’ back line, although they did at least enjoy a 2-1 friendly win over Hungary in the middle of this campaign.
England v Montenegro Analysis
Despite England’s far superior ranking, they have not always had things easy against Thursday’s visitors. While yet to beat England, Montenegro held England to draws in their first three encounters, including a resilient goalless stalemate in their first ever meeting at Wembley nine years ago. England finally broke the draw hoodoo in a World Cup qualifier in 2013 with a 4-1 win, while the 5-1 romp in March suggests a wider gulf between the two teams has opened up.
England have only lost two home qualifying games since the turn of the millennium, the first being Germany’s 1-0 win in England’s last game at the old Wembley Stadium in Kevin Keegan’s last game in charge. The other one came in 2007, when they lost 3-2 to Croatia in the pouring rain which brought Steve McClaren’s infamous brolly onto the front pages. Since then, 27 home qualifiers have brought England 24 wins and three draws, during which they have scored 84 goals and conceded just 12, three of which came from Kosovo at St Marys last time out.
Gareth Southgate again has a fit young squad to choose from, and he is likely to bring in some new blood over the two games, especially if qualification is already assured before the trip to Kosovo. Harry Kane will be keen to lead the front line after scoring in all six qualifiers so far, and although Raheem Sterling failed to find the net in Prague, he is level with Kane on eight goals so far on the campaign.
However, Sterling has effectively been suspended for the game at Wembley after being disciplined for an alleged internal spat with Joe Gomez; a continuation of their Premier League clash at Anfield on Sunday. Ross Barkley, who is next top scorer with four goals this campaign, is also out injured, which might pave the way for James Maddison to be given his long-awaited debut when he could stake a claim to be the missing creative link in Southgate’s jigsaw.
At the back, Tyrone Mings impressed on debut, albeit against a poor Bulgaria side, while Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori might just have his first cap by the time he returns to the Chelsea camp.
England v Montenegro Betting Odds
England are such firm favourites that 7/100 from bet365 is about the best you can get on a straight home win.
All the value would appear to be on the margin of victory, where the even-money line lies somewhere between England -2.75 and -3.00, while the odds of England bagging five goals for the fifth time this campaign and keeping their fourth clean sheet makes England -4.5 AH look quite enticing at odds of 13/4 with Bet365.
England vs Kosovo (Sunday 17th, November)
If England qualify in Thursday’s fixture, then Kosovo might just be the better motivated of the two teams in their upcoming clash on Sunday 17th.
Kosovo will be looking to repeat the kind of display that rattled England in the second half of their 5-3 encounter in September. Odds of 4/1 (BetVictor) on a home win might attract some interest. If both teams go all-out like they did at St Marys, then we could well be in for another goalfest.
England have scored 4 or more in all but one of their qualifiers — but wile it should be noted that Kosovo have scored in all of their last thirteen internationals, making the chances of Over 4.5 goals (around 5/1) and even Over 5.5 goals (12/1) far from fanciful.