Thursday 5th October. 7:45PM. ITV
The final international break of the European World Cup qualifiers have arrived and, despite a tumultuous campaign, England enter the last two games knowing that three points will be enough to book a place at next summer’s tournament in Russia. A home game against Slovenia should be the perfect opportunity to do just that with a game to spare.
A win would compete a 100% home record for the qualifying campaign too, and the Three Lions will be fully expected to grab the important victory. Slovenia won’t be here to simply make up the numbers, however, and will look to make a game of it.
Still, the hosts will be expected to prevail. Come on England!
Kane To Continue Incredible Form?
Gareth Southgate’s tenure has been a little uninspired, but he has still managed to steer the side towards easy qualification thanks largely to four competitive wins on the spin at Wembley. If England are to complete the full set on Thursday, there’s a good chance that star man Harry Kane will be the key.
The Tottenham striker is arguably England’s only genuine world-class talent, and he enters this match in incredible form after hitting 13 goals in the month of September. That run included two against Malta in the last pair of international fixtures, and the 24-year-old can be confident of more at the stadium where he currently plays his club football.
England’s hopes aren’t solely on Kane’s shoulders, though. The likes of Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford can all be quietly confident of helping the hosts secure their place in Russia. Meanwhile, much of England’s success has been built on a defence that has kept six clean sheets in just eight qualifiers.
Slovenia are a competitive side but, if England are anywhere near their best, it should be a routine win for the Three Lions.
Slovenia Bidding For Play-Off Berth
World Cup qualification looks unlikely for Slovenia but a shock result at Wembley could reignite their hopes of pipping Slovakia, who face a difficult trip to Scotland, to second place in Group F. Having successfully frustrated Southgate’s men in Ljubljana last year, the visitors can enter the encounter with a sense of optimism.
Srecko Katanec’s might not score that many goals, but can cause a few problems through Tim Matavz and Valter Birsa. Nonetheless, their best hopes come from defensive solidarity, especially as they have a world-class goalkeeper in Atletico’s Jan Oblak.
The visitors did fail to score in their last two away games, however, losing to both Scotland and Slovakia courtesy of 1-0 scorelines. Those omens aren’t particularly good for the visitors, especially as they could be forced to attack depending how things develop in Glasgow.
Still, the prospect of picking up a point or better in London should give the Slovenians something worth battling for. If they can frustrate England for the first half an hour, anything is possible.
England v Slovenia Betting
Southgate’s England unsurprisingly enter this clash as the overwhelming favourites at 1/3 with Ladbrokes while Slovenia are priced 10/1 outsiders. At odds of 7/2 on the draw, the bookies can’t see anything other than a home win.
In truth, neither can we. England might not be the force they’d like to be, but their quality is far better than Slovenia’s. Crucially, they have the in-form Kane to provide the moments of magic.
The striker has scored goals for fun in the last few weeks and additionally boasts five in his last four international appearances. Back him to continue that purple patch by finding the net against an inferior Slovenia.
England haven’t sparkled for a long time, but this really is a game that they should win comfortably. The quality eventually showed against Malta last month even after a very abject performance while they found a way to bounce back from the early setback against Slovakia too.
In this one at Wembley, however, we’re backing them to cruise their way to three points. We’d expect the hosts to win by at least two, but think there’s every chance of seeing them win by three or more.