We're backing early goals to celebrate England's 1000th international as the hosts should qualify for Euro 2020 in style at Wembley.
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It’s the 1000th England senior men’s international and, despite the recent training ground bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez there’s no real reason why the Three Lions shouldn’t celebrate with a handy victory that ensures their qualification for Euro 2020.
Gareth Southgate’s side need just a point from their remaining two games to secure qualification, but this game now takes on added significance after the Sterling affair as the manager will want them to show they’re a united bunch and put in a performance to move the narrative along.
He’ll also want to show that they can cope without their star man, who has bagged eight goals and registered six assists in this current qualifying campaign. It may be a blessing in disguise as England managers have often struggled when not having a Plan B.
The back-up plan should be in the form of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho playing either side of Harry Kane – and that’s a front three that should really be putting the 61st-ranked team in the world to the sword.
Montenegro actually scored first in the reverse fixture, when England ran out 5-1 winners, but Kane is the only goalscorer from that game who’ll be playing at Wembley.
Alarm bells would be ringing for the England of old after the off-field issues, but all we have seen since Southgate has taken charge points to a squad that’s as united as it is talented.
An early goal would help, of course, but let’s not forget this Montenegro side hasn’t won a game in the group, has just three points and three goals from seven games and now faces an England side that suddenly has plenty to prove.
With England such huge favourites, the manner of the victory becomes the big question, namely how many they’ll score at one end and let in at the other. At home they’ve been pretty good having won the last six with four clean sheets.
Only Russia and Belgium have scored more than England, and while Sterling has been a huge part of that, Rashford has started to hot up for United and looks more than dangerous enough to score.
Montenegro, for their part, have failed to score in their last four Euro qualifiers, and though they have looked vulnerable at times, they’ll be confident of keeping a clean sheet – and they’re 4/9 to do so.
Even without Sterling, there's enough firepower to maintain their record of scoring at least four at home in this campaign, while they've also been ahead at half time five times out of six games - three of those by more than one goal.
That makes for first half goals, and as for who'll score them, Kane has struck in every game so far, but is short enough to do so again, so double him up with Rashford, who has five in five for Man Utd and opened the scoring in Bulgaria in the last game.
Prediction: England 4-0 Montenegro (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
Best bets: Over 1.5 England first half goals at 5/4
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Marcus Rashford, Bernardo Silva & Aleksandar Mitrovic all to score - now 5/1
England v Montenegro Opta stats
- This match will be England’s 1000th official game – they’ve won 568 of the previous 999 matches (57%), with two of those wins coming against Montenegro.
- England and Montenegro have met five times previously – the Three Lions are yet to lose against them (W2 D3 L0), winning each of their last two.
- England have won their last six home matches in a row – their best winning run since a run of nine consecutively between March 2014 and November 2015.
- Montenegro are winless in their last nine European qualifying matches (Euros/World Cup), drawing three and losing six since winning 1-0 against Romania in September 2017.
- England have won their last 17 home European qualifiers for the World Cup/European Championships, scoring 55 goals and conceding just six across those victories.
- Montenegro have failed to score in their last four European Championship qualifiers, attempting 36 shots without success across those games.
- England’s Raheem Sterling has been involved in 15 goals in his last 10 internationals (10 goals, 5 assists). Sterling has played 20 matches for England at Wembley without losing (W18 D2 L0), more than any other player in the history of the national team.
- Harry Kane has been involved in 10 goals in his last four England appearances (6 goals, 4 assists), scoring a hat-trick in his last appearance at Wembley against Bulgaria. No player has ever scored hat-tricks in consecutive appearances at the national stadium.
- England have scored 27 goals in just eight games in 2019, an average of 3.4 per game, their highest average in a calendar year since 1963 (32 in 9 games, 3.6). The Three Lions are only one goal behind their tally for 2018 (28 goals) and last scored 30 goals in a calendar year in 1982 (34 goals).
- Should England striker Harry Kane score two goals in this match, he will become only the ninth player to score 30 goals for the Three Lions and have done so in just 44 caps, becoming the third quickest to 30 goals in England’s history behind only Nat Lofthouse (32 caps) and Jimmy Greaves (33).
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