Tuesday 11th October. 7:45PM. ITV 1
It’s two from two for England, but the start of this World Cup qualifying campaign has been far from perfect and their trip to Ljubljana certainly won’t be a walk in the park in what is Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge.
Can England keep up their 100% record? Will Slovenia leapfrog the Three Lions en route to Russia? Whatever happens, it should be an interesting encounter from the Stozice Stadium.
Come on England!
Slovenia To Spoil Southgate Party?
Slovenia might not have the reputation of being anything other than distinctly average, but Sreko Katanec’s side are blessed with a number of quality players and can hope to cause an upset against the Three Lions.
After a disappointing draw at Lithuania last month, Slovenia bounced back with an impressive 1-0 win over Slovakia and will be targeting a play-off place from this campaign. Even a point would go a long way to boosting their cause. Jan Oblak and co. will be out to frustrate England, but they won’t be playing damage limitation.
The Slovenians showed their attacking qualities by scoring twice in the corresponding fixture. With England missing both scorers from that 3-2 defeat, the hosts will be ready to attack – even if they have lost a few players to international retirement since the last meeting between these sides.
Katanec’s men will be under no illusions, and will appreciate that they are underdogs for a reason. Nevertheless, they’ll have nothing to fear as they look to capitalise on England’s vulnerability.
Southgate has made a huge call by confirming that skipper Wayne Rooney will be benched for this encounter. It could either prove to be a brilliant move, or a repeat of Steve McClaren’s snub of David Beckham just over a decade ago. Either way, this match in Ljubljana has all the ingredients of a potential banana skin.
Give that they’re unbeaten in 31 qualifiers, England will be confident. Despite the problems, the Three Lions have often dominated play against the lesser nations, and Southgate will be eager to see this trend continue here.
Even without Rooney, England boast a lot of experience. However, the youthful talents of Marcus Rashford and co. can provide the energy that the Three Lions need to bounce back from Saturday’s pedestrian performance in style.
A draw would be fine for England, but a win would be great for morale. It could help Southgate land the full-time job too.
Slovenia v England Betting
Despite conceding home advantage, England are the heavy pre-match favourites at odds of 4/6 with Bet365. Slovenia, meanwhile, can be backed at 11/2. Alternatively, the draw is available at 11/4.
England have won 14 qualifying games on the spin, and that run has to come to an end sooner rather than later. It was never going to happen against Malta, but the situation surrounding the squad means it could well happen in Ljubljana.
The Three Lions probably won’t draw, but they were minutes away from being held when they visited Slovenia last year. Don’t be surprised if the hosts steal a share of the spoils here.
Last year, England registered just three corners while Slovenia mustered only one. While the visitors do tend to earn a lot of corners, their pedestrian play on Saturday casts more than a few doubts.
With this in mind, we’re backing under 9.5 match corners at just over Evens.