England face Montenegro in Podgorica on Tuesday night needing a victory to regain control of Group H in World Cup qualifying.
The game is a far trickier one than the Three Lions visit to minnows San Marino on Friday night. I think it’s safe to say that Roy Hodgson’s team won’t beat Montenegro 8-0.
The atmosphere in Podgorica is set to be partisan to say the least. The clash will be a completely different to the one in the rout in San Marino.
England were welcomed in San Marino, whereas as the atmosphere in Montenegro will be far more hostile.
England midfielder Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain has stated in the media that the England team won’t be intimidated by the atmosphere in the Stadion Pod Goricom. The likelihood is that the Three Lions players won’t be intimidated.
The majority of the England squad are experienced performers who have played at some of the most intimidating stadiums in the world.
The last time that England visited Montenegro the Three Lions drew 2-2 with Montenegro and Wayne Rooney was dismissed for kicking one of the home side’s defenders. The sending-off in the European Championship qualifier meant that the United forward missed the first two games of Euro 2012.
The United striker has matured in recent years and hopefully he will keep his cool in the heated atmosphere of Podgorica this time. Rooney will be vital for England if they are to gain maximum points.
The game in Montenegro is a vital one for England boss Roy Hodgson. The only England boss that has failed to qualify for a major competition in nearly two decades is Steve McLaren and he paid with his job.
Qualification for next year’s World Cup could hinge on Tuesday nights encounter. If England lose the clash then it will be far more difficult for Hodgson’s team to come back and qualify for Brazil 2014.
It would be hard for Roy Hodgson’s England career to recover should the Three Lions fail to qualify for the World Cup and he could meet the same fate as Steve McLaren.
For a country with a population of just under 650,000 Montenegro have some very dangerous players. The countries top two players perform in Italy’s Serie A.
Captain Mirko Vucinic is one of the stars of the Juventus team that won the Scudetto last season and look likely to retain that title this season. Vucinic is the all-time leading goalscorer for the fledgling nation and has the technical ability to cause any defence trouble.
Vucinic’s strike-partner is likely to be exciting Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetic. The 23 year-old has scored 12 goals in 20 appearances for the Viola this season. His goals have propelled his club into contention for the Champions League places this season.
Jovetic has recently revealed that he would like to play in the Premier League one day. He has been linked with a summer move to Premier League clubs Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.
This game will be the perfect chance for talented youngster to showcase his talents in front of scouts and managers of the top Premier League clubs.
Those strikers will be looking at taking advantage of the lack of experience of Chris Smalling and the lack of recent match action of Joleon Lescott at the heart of the England defence. England are without centre-backs Rio Ferdinand, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, so Roy Hodgson doesn’t have much of a selection choice in defence.
Ashley Cole is likely to come back in for Leighton Baines at full-back, despite the Everton full-back producing a good display against San Marino. The England backline will have to be on their metal to keep out Montenegro’s danger men.
England are the favourites for the clash with the bookmakers, but can’t be complacent as Montenegro are dangerous opponents. This is a crucial game in the reign of Roy Hodgson and I just hope England don’t slip-up.
Will England get a victory in Montenegro?