England host Slovakia on Monday night in their final game of the international break. A win for England would keep them top and five points above second place Slovakia. A win for Slovakia, on the other hand, would put them top of Group F by a point.
England will be going into this game hoping for a much better showing than their last game. They beat Malta 4-0 on Friday night. But the score line was very flattering.
Considering Malta have yet to register a single point in Group F, you would think group leaders England would make short work of them. This was not the case. It took until the 53rd minute for England to break the deadlock against a team that had conceded 15 goals in six games before Friday’s game. Even after breaking the deadlock England still struggled. Ryan Bertrand eventually killed the game off in the 86th minute. But even his goal was a bit of a fluke, taking a huge bounce at a very lucky time making it harder for Malta’s keeper to save it.
England would eventually rack up a more respectable score line by full time. Danny Welbeck and Harry Kane scored England’s final two goals in injury time.
Once again though Gareth Southgate’s tactics were somewhat questionable. He decided that England, one of the supposed top teams in the world, when playing against a team that had not registered a point in this group needs to play two holding midfielders. A strange decision that did nothing but hindered England’s chance of scoring.
England faces Slovakia on Monday and as they are 2nd in the group they should provide England with their toughest test yet. Let’s hope Southgate picks a decent team and formation this time around.
Injury news – No known injuries to the current squad picked to face Slovakia.
Slovakia will be going into this game full of fire. Because they know if they beat England they can go top of the group. Slovakia are a decent side and are currently ranked 22 in the world.
They also have some very dangerous players. Such as Marek Hamsik. He is a central midfielder who plays in Italy for Napoli. Hamsik is one of the top players for both club and country. In total, he has played 456 games for Napoli scoring 114 and assisting 108. He has also scored 21 goals for Slovakia and is just three goals away from becoming their all time top scorer. This shows he is a top quality player and he could cause England some big problems.
Last time out Slovakia beat Slovenia 1-0 and they will be hoping to continue that form into the England game.
Injury news – No known injuries in the squad picked to face England.
Head to Head
The teams have met just five times in history. England have won four and there has been one draw.
Last time the two sides met was in September 2016. England won 1-0 with Adam Lallana the goal scorer. Sam Allardyce was also in charge of England for this game. His only match as England manager.
Slovakia have not played in England since 2009. It was a friendly and England won 4-0. Rooney (2), Heskey and Lampard were the goal scorers on that day.
England XI: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Keane, Bertrand, Dier, Henderson, Chamberlin, Alli, Rashford, Kane.
Slovakia XI: Dubravka, Pekarik, Gyomber, Skriniar, Hubocan, Mak, Kucka, Lobotka, Hamsik, Weiss, Nemec
Group F Form
England: D W W D W
Slovakia: W W W W W
As mentioned earlier, this will be on of the tougher tests England will face in Group F. Slovakia have won their last five qualifying matches and have some talented players who can cause some trouble for England.
However, England needs to win this match. Their display against Malta wasn’t the most convincing and if Southgate wants to keep the fans on side, England needs to top the group.
Luckily for England, August is over so Harry Kane has started scoring again. They also have players like Dele Alli who can cause big problems from the midfield. The game will be tight. But England should come out on top.
Final score prediction: 2-1 England