Gareth Southgate takes his England side to Montenegro on Monday and Paul Higham expects them to maintain their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualifying.
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Montenegro v England (1945 GMT – ITV)
It was a perfect start to the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at Wembley, now Gareth Southgate’s side make their first away trip to Montenegro looking to make it two wins from two.
England haven’t managed a win yet in Montenegro in two attempts, with the ‘Brave Falcons’ grabbing three draws in four overall meetings, so they won’t be overawed by the occasion in Podgorica.
Southgate’s England do look like an exciting new prospect though, and the Three Lions have been dominant in recent qualifying campaigns – going unbeaten in their last 19 away games and keeping 11 clean sheets in their last 12 wins.
The hosts are also without their two best players with former Manchester City striker Stevan Jovetic and Atletic Madrid defende Stefan Savic both out injured
Eric Dier is out for England and Southgate has decided against calling in a replacement, so the main selection decision is whether Declan Rice starts as a like-for-like replacement of Ross Barkley gets the nod after making a good impact off the bench at Wembley.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is also vying for a start while Southgate may switch his full-backs if he favours rotation over a settled side – any side he puts out though should be enough to get another win under their belts.
Prediction: Montenegro 0-2 England (Sky Bet odds: 4/1)
Montenegro aren’t a bad side, and the atmosphere at home should make them a tough opponent but there shouldn’t be too much danger of England conceding and there’s more than enough quality in this squad to get another victory – the margin just depends on the timing of the first goal.
Best bet: England (-1 on handicap) at 23/20
Always difficult to find something worthwhile here – the England win to nil is well-fancied but at 5/6 not the best value in the world, so instead we’re plumping for the handicap and with the talent available and the form of the front men, I’d expect England to be two goals better than Montenegro most days of the week.
The two in-form talisman of this England side so why shouldn’t they both score again? These two should have no problem scoring again – even against a well-organised defence. Sterling’s current run is remarkable, having scored five in his last three England starts and seven in his last four games for club and country – including two hat-tricks!
Montenegro v England – Opta stats
- England have won one and drawn three of their four previous matches against Montenegro in all competitions, running out 4-1 winners in their most recent encounter in October 2013 at Wembley.
- England have drawn each of their two previous away games in Montenegro (2-2 in October 2011 and 1-1 in March 2013), last drawing three away matches in a row against a single opponent back in August 2009 versus Netherlands.
- England have not lost any of their last 21 away competitive matches (W14 D7) since a 0-1 defeat in a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Ukraine back in October 2009.
- Montenegro have won just one of their last five matches (W1 D1 L3), drawing 1-1 in their first qualification game against Bulgaria.
- England have won their three previous matches played on a Monday under Gareth Southgate, beating Slovakia, Tunisia and most recently Spain. Only in games played on a Sunday (4/4) does Southgate have a better 100%-win rate.
- England are looking to win five consecutive matches for the first time under Gareth Southgate – they last won five in a row in October 2015 under Roy Hodgson.
- Stefan Mugosa has scored four goals in his last four internationals for Montenegro.
- Against Czech Republic, England didn’t feature a Manchester United player in a competitive match for the first time since November 2007 against Croatia – they last failed to feature a Red Devils player in consecutive competitive internationals in November 1990 (vs Poland and Republic of Ireland).
- Raheem Sterling has scored five goals in his last three England matches – he had scored just twice in his first 45 appearances; the Man City forward has scored with five of his last seven shots, having netted with just two of his first 62 shots for the Three Lions.
- If Jadon Sancho scores against Montenegro, he will become the youngest England player to score on their birthday (19), and the first since Steven Gerrard did so against Hungary in May 2006.
Odds correct as of 1820 GMT on 24/03/19