England travel to Slovenia for a Euro 2016 qualifier looking to extend their perfect record in Group E and move a step closer to securing their place at the finals.
After a dismal World Cup campaign in Brazil last year, which ended in exit at the first stage, England have been impressive in their bid to qualify for the next major international tournament in France in 12 months’ time.
England have won all five matches, scoring 15 goals and conceding just once – in a 3-1 defeat of Slovenia at Wembley back in November.
Sunday’s clash in Ljubljana is likely to prove a stern test of England’s credentials, but midfielder Jack Wilshere says the team can take heart from their excellent display in a 2-0 win at Switzerland at the start of the campaign.
“We went to Switzerland with a young team, a new team, a new formation, and we won,” the Arsenal man said.
“That was a big step for us and even though we played well that game, I still feel we’ve come a long way since that game. We’re unbeaten since then, we want to finish the season unbeaten.
“But we’ll go into this game as we do in every other game. Switzerland and Slovenia – if you look at the group – are the two teams that can cause us real problems.
“We saw they [Slovenia] got the first goal at Wembley from a set piece, so we’ll have to be wary of that. But we know it could be one of those games that’s 0-0 until 60 or 70 minutes. But we’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to keep doing the things we’ve been doing up to now.
“And if we win on Sunday it will be a big step towards qualifying. We know we’re not there yet, but it will be a big step.
“We’ve got another year to work on this new formation we’ve got. We’re lucky, because we’re not a team that has to play one formation.
“We’ve got many quality players that can change that. We can change to a 4-3-3 if we need to, we’ve got pace up front. So I think we’re in a good position, but we’re not where we want to be at.”
Slovenia come into the game second in the group, level on points with Switzerland and in with a genuine chance of reaching their first European Championship since the Zlatko Zahovic-inspired generation of 2000.
Of the current vintage, one of the most high-profile stars is goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, although head coach Srecko Katanec is concerned that the Inter man has been distracted by talk of his future in recent times.
“I must admit I’m worried,” Katanec said. “Samir is a top-class goalkeeper and he deserves to play on the most important stage, but his situation is penalising Inter.
“His head isn’t clear and that has affected his performances.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!