England players are currently riding out a social media storm after delivering an astoundingly boring 0-0 draw in last Sunday’s friendly with Ireland. The Three Lions could not find the back of the net despite going with a strong line-up.
Top-of-the-table clashes are generally supposed to be exciting, but not when Slovenia are six points behind Group E-leaders England. A loss would still leave England three points clear and with superior goal difference. Yet again, the weak level of England’s opponents is all too obvious.
England controlled the November encounter with Slovenia by winning 3-1 at Wembley Stadium courtesy of a Wayne Rooney hat trick. Slovenia have not been especially good to reach second place in the group, and six of their 10 goals can be attributed to a 6-0 March victory over minnows San Marino. England are understandable favourites for the game.
Roy Hodgson can hardly be regarded as an innovative manager at this stage of his career. He has settled on a 4-3-3 line-up that he his fond of and will not make any dramatic changes for Slovenia. The only major change that would happen is if Daniel Sturridge had been healthy to play, but he is recovering from hip surgery.
Hodgson will continue with Raheem Sterling despite the young attacker’s current contract distractions, which should be fine in a game played away in Eastern Europe. However, Hodgson could rethink his midfield trio of James Milner, Jordan Henderson, and Jack Wilshere, with Fabian Delph a possible replacement.
There is a considerable gulf in talent between these two sides. For Slovenia, the undisputed star of the squad is Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanović. No other player comes close to his stature, but midfielder Kevin Kampl is gradually trying to make a name for himself with Borussia Dortmund. Meanwhile, leading striker Milivoje Novaković is 36 years old and currently plying his trade in Japan’s J-League.
Tip one: England @ 1.83 with ladbrokes
Tip two: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.20 with ladbrokes
England are already familiar with Slovenia and have the pace to trouble them more than they did Ireland. A win with over 2.5 goals is a strong possibility.