England have the chance to wrap up their qualification for the Euro 2012 Finals tonight, with a point against Montenegro being enough to secure the top spot in the group, and a shot at the trophy in Poland / Ukraine next year. If we manage to get the point, be ready for the usual spurrious headlines about how England can do it this time, this is the ‘Golden Generation’, etc etc. having managed to remain unbeaten so far in the campaign, you would have to say getting a point is very much do-able.
However, it might not be as simple as all that. In order to guarantee qualification themselves, Montenegro are looking for a win – otherwise it all comes down to their last match against Switzerland to determine which of the two will make it into the Play-offs – so don’t expect the Montenegrans to sit back and allow England to play expansive football.
England will be without a number of first-team regulars – most notably Rio Ferdinand, who was left out of the squad because he had only just returned to full fitness. This gives Capello a chance to hand the baton on to the kids (and future England stars) such as Phil Jones and Gary Cahill, should he choose to use it.
We expect Jones to start at right-back, from where his thrusting runs for Manchester United have been revelatory of late. John Terry should be partnered by Gary Cahill in the centre, with Ashley Cole on the left. With his recent Spurs performances in mind, we expect Scott Parker to be given the nod as the defensive midfielder, with Frank Lampard, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing completing the midfield.
Up front it’s difficult to ascertain who will start alongside Rooney, but we think Danny Welbeck will be given the responsibility, leaving Bent and Zamora to come on should we need a goalscoring cameo.
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Will we be playing for a draw? Capello says we won’t, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be putting in a tepid performance! To be fair, away from home we have always done better than at Wembley, with the 3-0 in Croatia sprining to mind. We think this is going to be another win for England (available at 1.75 at Paddy Power). If we had to predict the score we’d go for a 3-1 win (15.0 at Ladbrokes).
Wayne Rooney has looked in great shape of late, scoring hatrick after hatrick. With England having an attacking impetus to get an early goal, we think a good bet would be on and English first goalscorer. Rooney is available at 4.75 to score first or 2.4 to be an anytime goalscorer (both with Bet Clic). Looks good to us…
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