England will be looking to book their place in the UEFA Euro 2020 when they welcome Montenegro to Wembley in a Group A clash on Thursday.
The latest international break of the year is here and the qualifiers for the 2020 European Championships resume. Group A leaders England will be eager to finally secure a berth in next summer’s finals when they play hosts to Montenegro at Wembley on Thursday night.
England have taken control of Group A pretty much from the onset of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers. Bar the solitary loss to Czech Republic last month, there has been very little troubling the Three Lions, who are on the verge of booking safe passage to next year’s tournament.
Montenegro, on the other hand, stand no chance to make it to the 2020 European Championships, having managed to amass just three points from their seven games so far. With no wins under their belt, The Brave Falcons are second from bottom in Group A, with only head-to-head record separating them from Bulgaria.
The reverse fixture, played in Podgorica back in March, ended in a 5-1 win for England, with Ross Barkley, Michael Keane, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling on target. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
There have not been many major changes made by Gareth Southgate from the last squad he had picked. John Stones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are the ones making a return to the national setup, while Michael Keane has been dropped by the England head coach.
Fabian Delph (hamstring) and Ross Barkley (ankle) have withdrawn from the squad due to their injury troubles. But, the major talking point heading into the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against Montenegro has been the bust-up which involved Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.
As a disciplinary measure, Sterling has been dropped by Southgate and will play no part for England when Montenegro pay them a visit on Thursday. Another player who will not be involved is Jordan Henderson, who is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
In his stead, the returning Oxlade-Chamberlain should start and will be tasked with providing the forward thrust from the middle of the park. Mason Mount ought to bring the creative impetus from an advanced midfield spot, while Declan Rice is likely to return as the holding midfielder.
In Sterling’s absence, Jadon Sancho will likely start on the right side of the attack, with Marcus Rashford set to be deployed on the opposite flank. England captain Harry Kane will lead the line against Montenegro. On the opposite end, there is no looking past Jordan Pickford. T
back four, meanwhile, should remain unchanged from the previous game. Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings will form the central defensive partnership for England, with in-form duo Ben Chilwell and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be the full-back pairing.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Maguire, Mings, Chilwell; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rice, Mount; Sancho, Kane, Rashford
Faruk Hadzibegic has faced a major blow ahead of the trip to England. Senior defender Adam Marusic has pulled out of the squad due to a muscular injury, while Aleksandar Scekic has withdrawn because of a knee complaint.
In place of Marusic, Marko Vesovic could play as a makeshift right-back. On the opposite flank, Risto Radunovic is likely to come in as the left-back. At the heart of Montenegro’s defence, veteran centre-back Marko Simic should have Dusan Lagator as his partner.
Montenegro head coach Hadzibegic is likely to shuffle his formation, reverting to the 4-2-3-1 to add more steel in the middle of the park. Nikola Vukcevic will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park while his midfield double pivot partner Deni Hocko will be charged with recycling possession.
Sead Haksabanovic will provide a pacy outlet on the left flank, with Aleksandar Boljevic, a go-to man for his manager, will start on the opposite flank. The creative thrust will be provided by Vladimir Jovovic, who will be deployed in the no. 10 role. Stefan Mugosa will be the central striker for the visitors and will look to exploit the holes in England’s defence.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Petkovic; Vesovic, Lagator, Simic, Radunovic; Hocko, Vukcevic; Boljevic, Jovovic, Haksabanovic; Mugosa
- England have never been beaten by Montenegro in five fixtures so far. But, the Three Lions have won just two of those games (D3).
- England have won eight of their last 11 games (L2). The Three Lions have won their last six home fixtures, scoring 20 goals in the process.
- Montenegro have only won three of their last 20 games, losing ten (D7).
- England have scored five goals or more in four of their eight games in 2019 – they had only scored five or more in four of their 76 matches over the previous six calendar years combined (2013–18).
- Montenegro have only managed to find the back of the net 14 times in their last 18 matches, and none in their last three games.
Player to Watch
With Raheem Sterling being dropped for the visit of Montenegro, Rashford has a chance to impress Gareth Southgate. The young forward has been in solid form for Manchester United lately, and such a run with the national team could help him cement his place for England as well.
Set to start on the left side of the attack, from where he flourishes the most, Rashford would like to wreak havoc in the final third. If he manages to do so, Sterling and Jadon Sancho will have a tough competition heading to next summer’s European Championships.
England 4-0 Montenegro
England have been nearly unbeatable at home, although a frail defence will put some.pressure on them. Montenegro, though, are struggling in front of goal and are unlikely to put up much of a fight. The Hard Tackle predicts a 4-0 for the hosts, sending them to the UEFA Euro 2020.