If England do not win this one at a canter, there will be trouble for the Three Lions. Simple as that.
If San Marino are not defeated at least 3-0 you suspect they will see it as a victory. Their nation consists of just 32,000 people. Here is the full preview:
San Marino are, quite frankly, the worst team in Europe. They are 53rd out of 53 team, and their current position of 207th in the world rankings is their worst since the nation formed a football team. A realistic target for England is that, in September last year, Holland beat them 11-0. That should say enough.
England are 5th placed, having been replaced by Argentina, who now hold 4th. They are (counting knockout round games as what they were after 90 minutes) unbeaten in all 9 of Hodgson’s games since taking on the role of manager from Fabio Capello. Out of Europe’s teams they are 49 places higher than San Marino.
England have been dominant against San Marino. In the two games they’ve played, they’ve scored 13 and conceded 1. That one, however, was San Marino’s proudest footballing moment, as Davide Gualtieri scored the fastest goal in the history of World Cup competition. Unfortunately, England ran out 7-1 winners in the end. They won 6-0 at Wembley as well.
Kieran Gibbs, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are all out of tonights game through injury. However, what with John Terry hanging up his international boots and Ashley Cole set to be rested for Tuesday’s game against Poland, Ryan Bertrand gets the nod as a squad member, as does Jonjo Shelvey, Ryan Shawcross and Aaron Lennon as Hodgson gives players the chance to impress. San Marino have no injury problems, and are expected to field their strongest starting eleven.
These teams are polar opposites. Like I said before, England are technically speaking unbeaten under the former West Brom manager. There is a lot of confidence that England can qualify for the next World Cup, but they will have to watch out as San Marino will no doubt smell a giant killing of gigantic proportions. San Marino will no doubt defend for the 90 minutes, trying to get through the match with a reasonable scoreline, but the difference in quality between these two sides is frightening.
England: Hart; Walker, Jagielka, Cahill, Baines; Walcott, Cleverley, Carrick, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Rooney, Welbeck.
San Marino: Aldo Simoncini; Christian Brolli, Alessandro Della Valle, Davide Simoncini, Fabio Vitaioli; Matteo Coppini; Michele Cervellini, Alex Gasparoni; Matteo Vitaioli, Danilo Rinaldi, Manuel Marani.
San Marino’s squad contains only one professional footballer. They have no regular training hours as they are working most of the day. They are not much more, when you look at them, than a pub team. If the Three Lions do not beat them, Hodgson will be under a lot of pressure all of a sudden. I’m going for 7-0 to England, because England don’t play the same way as Holland, and a thrashing is just what they need to revitalise the fans.