England vs Slovakia Match Preview
The situation in Group F of the UEFA section of qualifying for the World Cup in 2018 is fairly simple: the winner of this contest between England and Slovakia will hold all the aces.
There are three rounds of matches left to go, and in that time England will welcome both Slovakia and their neighbours Slovenia to Wembley, so Gareth Southgate’s men have their fate firmly in their own hands.
As for Slovakia, a potentially tough trip to Scotland is on the horizon, so they will be looking to claim a point at least on Monday evening to strengthen their play-off claims at the very least.
So who will prevail at football HQ in Group F’s pivotal encounter?
Here’s a fun quiz question: when did England last lose either a European Championship or World Cup qualification match on home soil? The answer, incredibly, is November 2007. So yes, England are nearly celebrating a decade unbeaten in qualifiers at Wembley Stadium!
That emphasises the size of the task facing Slovakia on Monday night, and confirms that the bookmakers’ odds of 4/11 on an England victory are justified.
Have the Three Lions improved under Southgate’s stewardship? It’s hard to say, and in truth their recent results suggest that they are doing what all English sides of the past five decades have done: the expected. So, defeats against France and Germany – expected, despite the decent performance levels – have been backed by dropped points in Scotland and routine victories over Malta and Lithuania. So far, so England!
So perhaps the Slovaks will eye an opportunity at Wembley, and there will be a few plucky punters willing to back them at 15/2 with Betfred. They’ve been impressive in qualifying, and the comprehensive nature of wins over Scotland (3-0) and Lithuania (4-0), albeit at home, confirms that this is a team that can play.
But how can England’s home record be overlooked? It simply can’t, so the 4/11 on offer at Boyle Sports is of genuine value as the Three Lions secure yet another victory on home soil.
Individual Goal Scorers
When it comes to goalscoring for England, there really is only one man to back in the First and Anytime Goalscorer markets. Harry Kane has netted three times in his last two starts in the white shirt of his country, and leading the line he is naturally the most likely to break the deadlock on Monday evening.
Kane is yet to get off the mark in the 2017/18 campaign for Tottenham, but that’s okay as he is a notoriously slow starter and at least he is still performing well.
When the odds are published, be sure to back Kane in the First Goalscorer market: he is the most likely to score against a side which the stats suggest could be vulnerable defensively on the road.
Other Side Bets
Slovakia’s possible defensive frailties are the key narrative here, and the fact they have shipped eight in their last three away days is testament to a lack of quality at the back.
They lost 0-6 to Sweden in a friendly back in January, and have subsequently shipped against both Malta and Lithuania – hardly European football’s most devastatingly creative outposts.
Indeed, other than a friendly 0-0 draw at Austria in November 2016, you have to go back to 2014 to find Slovakia’s last clean sheet away from home.
Even without Wayne Rooney, this is an England side still packed with guile in attack, with Kane ably supported by the likes of club mate Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy.
The Three Lions have scored two or more goals in seven of their last ten outings, and that has to be the betting angle here. The 8/15 available on England Over 1.5 Goals is excellent value, but punters seeking longer odds will tuck into the 5/1 available with bet365 on an England 2-0 correct score.
- England to Win (4/11 with Boyle Sports)
- England 2-0 Correct Score (5/1 with bet365)