After a 3/1 winner in England v Bulgaria, George Pitts previews Tuesday's Euro 2020 qualifier with surprise package Kosovo in Southampton.
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Tuesday's Euro 2020 fixtures
- Albania v Iceland
- England v Kosovo
- France v Andorra
- Lithuania v Portugal
- Luxembourg v Serbia
- Moldova v Turkey
- Montenegro v Czech Republic
*All games scheduled to get underway at 1945 BST
England v Kosovo
- St Mary's Stadium, live on ITV
England have made a perfect start to Euro 2020 qualifying and they have another home game to take a step closer to confirming their place at next year's tournament.
They host Kosovo, a fixture which, on paper, you would expect to be a walkover for Gareth Southgate's men, but that might not be the case.
Southgate said in his post-match interview on Saturday how impressed he has been with the Balkan nation, who sit 120th in FIFA's latest rankings, after a string of fine results.
They could shoot up in the next rankings after winning two and drawing two of their four Group A matches, most recently pulling off a surprise 2-1 win over Czech Republic to extend their unbeaten run to an impressive 15 games.
They only played their first competitive international match in 2016 and have put themselves in with a great chance of reaching Euro 2020.
Their squad will be relishing the chance to play against England's stars, but they will not get a dream Wembley outing with the match taking place at Southampton as part of the initiative to get the national team playing around the country.
As excited as these players will be, they have some familiar names from playing for English clubs and in some of Europe's top leagues.
There is Bersant Celina of Swansea, Atdhe Nuhiu of Sheffield Wednesday, Florent Hadergjonaj of Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Arijanet Muric (on loan from Man City). Then there's captain and goalkeeper Samir Ujkani of Torino and further players from Lazio, Standard Liege, Basel, Hannover and Fenerbahce.
They should not be underestimated and Southgate knows that. It could be a tough test against a great underdog and there are some appealing prices in their favour.
A double chance may be asking a bit much in their greatest test, even at 10/1, but 34 goals in that unbeaten run shows their ability and threat in the final third, even scoring five in one game on one occasion.
Vedat Muriqi should lead the line and the Fenerbahce forward has scored eight in his last 10 appearances for club and country. Despite a clear eye for goal, he is available at around 10/1 anytime and if you fancy the visitors to score then he has got to be worth a look for a small stake.
But in a game where the hosts are so strongly fancied, the shots on target market makes for very interesting reading.
England are still not convincing defensively and this sort of game could see them caught napping with a more laid back approach. Kosovo are bound to get a couple of chances and they can be backed to register two or more shots on target at 6/5 and three or more at 7/2 - a fantastic price for a team that averaged 5.5 shots on target across their six Nations League fixtures.
There is some value in backing both players to score (Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling at 7/4), but the more appealing prices are found in favour of the underdogs and especially the shots market.
They may not come away with the points, but they have shown a fighting spirit and will give it a go at St Mary's.
Prediction: England 3-1 Kosovo (Sky Bet odds: 12/1)
- England and Kosovo have never previously faced in an international match.
- England have avoided defeat in each of their last 42 EURO/World Cup qualifying matches (W33 D9 L0), since losing 0-1 to Ukraine in October 2009.
- This is England’s second match at St. Mary’s Stadium and first since October 2002, when they drew 2-2 with Macedonia in a Euro 2004 qualifier. They also played at Southampton’s old ground, The Dell, for one game in March 1901, winning 3-0 against Ireland.
- Kosovo are unbeaten in their last 15 matches in all competitions (W10 D5) and are looking to win three in a row for the first time since May 2018.
- England haven’t lost a home competitive match not played at Wembley since the same day Charlie Chaplin released his final silent film Modern Times in February 1936, when they lost 2-1 to Wales at Molineux in a Home Nations match – they are unbeaten in 29 games since (W23 D6 L0).
- Milot Rashica has had a hand in more goals than any other Kosovo player in Euro 2020 qualifiers (2 goals, 1 assist), also creating five goalscoring chances in the process.
- Marcus Rashford has scored in all three of his home England internationals played away from Wembley, netting at the Stadium of Light against Australia, Elland Road against Costa Rica and the King Power against Switzerland.
- Harry Kane has now scored 18 goals for England whilst wearing the captain’s armband - only Alan Shearer (20), Bryan Robson (20) and Vivian Woodward (23) have scored more such goals for the Three Lions.
England eased to a 4-0 victory over Bulgaria in their Euro 2020 qualifier at Wembley. Alex Keble looks at the tactical performance from the Three Lions.
Odds correct as of 1200 BST on 09/09/19
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