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Prediction: Slovakia vs England

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Bet365

Sam Allardyce’s competitive debut as England manager will take place on Sunday in Slovakia, with England travelling to Antona Malatinskeho stadium in Trnava for their opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Slovakia

Same rival, different competition for Slovakia, who are getting ready to face England once again following their meeting in the group stage of the 2016 European Championship finals in France over the summer. Jan Kozak’s men proved a tough nut to crack and eventually managed to hold England to a goalless stalemate that allowed both teams to progress through to the knockout stages. It all ended in disappointment for Slovakia though, with their Euro 2016 campaign reaching its end in the very next stage after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at the hands of Germany. Slovaks will have been fairly underwhelmed by their poor showings in France which saw them record only one win out of four games played. The 2-1 triumph over 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia was not enough to leave an overall positive impression and Jan Kozak is ready to ring changes to his side in order to raise the level of performances and put up a fight in the qualifying group F against the likes of Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta in addition to Sam Allardyce’s side.

Team News

The likes of Jan Mucha, Miroslav Stoch, Vladimir Weiss and Stanislav Sestak are the most notable exclusions from the squad list for the England game.

Captain Martin Skrtel, charismatic Marek Hamsik and Juraj Kucka all retained their positions in the team, while Jakub Holubek and Jakub Povazanec received their first-ever senior call-ups.

England

The 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers have marked an end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one with Sam Allardyce now at the helm as a replacement for Roy Hodgson. A few eyebrows were raised upon former Sunderland boss’ appointment as not everyone is convinced that Big Sam will be an improvement to England’s bench. The pressure is once again at its highest level following yet another disappointing display at the international scene for the Three Lions, who ended their Euro 2016 journey losing 2-1 to tournament’s surprise package Iceland in the round of last 16. England’s fine form during the Euro 2016 qualifiers counted for nothing as the Three Lions failed to make their presence know when it was most needed. An underwhelming 1-1 draw against Russia and a disappointing goalless stalemate against their forthcoming rivals Slovakia need to be archived as soon as possible as England heads into qualifiers for the competition that will be Wayne Rooney’s last hurrah at the international level. Manchester United and England captain announced his retirement from the national team after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and there is no doubt that his teammates will be keen to make it a memorable one for Wazza.

Team News

Following his successful return from a year-long injury and a couple of impressive performances for Manchester United at the beginning of the season, Luke Shaw returns to the national team.

Sam Allardyce rewarded West Ham winger Michail Antonio with his first-ever call-up, while the England manager had a message to send to injury-laden Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere by opting to leave him out of the squad.

Key Factors to Consider

  • 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be Wayne Rooney’s last competition with England
  • England won 3 of the total 4 of their previous encounters with Slovakia
  • Slovaks have lost only one of their last 14 home matches in all competitions
  • England failed to score at least a goal in just 1 of their last 5 away matches
  • Trip to Slovakia is Sam Allardyce’s premier match as England boss

Conclusion

England will be highly motivated to get off to a flying start and record a win at their new manager’s debut. Trip to Slovakia can prove to be a tricky one though despite the fact that Three Lions have the upper hand when it comes to duels with Slovaks. We expect a cautiously contested match in Trnava and not many goals at the beginning of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign for both sides.

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Bet365

Wed 31 Aug, 2016
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