England face Honduras at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami in their final friendly before their World Cup opener against Italy on June 14 (21:45 BST, Saturday, live on ITV1).
Roy Hodgson’s side qualified for Brazil 2014 by topping their qualification group with an undefeated record of six wins and four draws. They have won two, lost two and drawn one of five subsequent friendlies, including Wednesday’s entertaining 2-2 draw with Ecuador.
Hodgson sent out an experimental lineup and England’s attacking play was fluid and occasionally thrilling. Rickie Lambert (pictured) regularly dropped off the front, creating space for the attacking midfielders to dart into, while the direct dribbling of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley also produced a number of dangerous situations.
England were less impressive defensively, but that was probably to be expected from an unaccustomed and second-choice back four. Hodgson is likely to bring his regular starters back into the starting XI for Saturday’s match and will expect his central-axis of goalkeeper Joe Hart and centre-backs Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka to provide a more solid base.
The England coach still has decisions to make in midfield, where neither Frank Lampard nor Jack Wilshere was particularly impressive. The balance of the Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard pairing of the previous friendly against Peru did not look quite right either and Hodgson could use Saturday’s match to test a different combination of the four.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was substituted after injuring his knee in a clumsy collision on Wednesday and his World Cup place is now in doubt. He will undergo a scan on Thursday to confirm the extent of the damage. Hodgson otherwise looks to have a fit squad at his disposal with just over a week to go until England’s first match in Brazil.
Honduras qualified for a second consecutive World Cup by finishing third in the final stage of the CONCACAF qualifying process, with 15 points from four wins, three draws and three defeats. They were undefeated at home but performed less impressively on their travels.
Colombian coach Luis Fernando Suarez has continued the good work of his predecessor and compatriot Reinaldo Rueda. His 23-man selection includes 10 members of the squad that Rueda took to the last World Cup, with new talents such as Andy Najar, Jerry Bengston, Luis Garrido and Rony Martinez coming in to replace the older members of that squad.
Bengston was Honduras’ top scorer during qualifying with nine goals and will form an interesting strike partnership with Carlos Costly, a nomadic forward who seems to reserve his best performances for the national team. Najar and Oscar Boniek Garcia will offer support from the flanks.
Honduras have plenty of experience in defence, with the goalkeeper Noel Valladares and starting defenders Emilio Izaguirre, Maynor Figueroa and Victor Bernardez each having accumulated upwards of 65 caps. Valladares has 121. This back-line has, however, rarely looked particularly convincing and conceded twice in a recent friendly defeat to Turkey.
Suarez selected a second-choice side in a 4-2 defeat to Israel in Honduras’ last friendly and is likely to reinstate his normal starters on Saturday in order to complete some last minute fine-tuning prior to their World Cup opener against France. Arnold Peralta has been unable to overcome a leg injury and has seen his place in the squad taken by Edder Delgado.
England v Honduras Betting Tips Verdict
This match will be the first time England and Honduras have ever faced each other. England’s last match against opponents from the CONCACAF region came back in 2010, when they defeated Mexico 3-1 at Wembley. Honduras have won one, drawn two and lost five of their last eight matches against European opposition.
Honduras are a dynamic and well-organised side who are capable of occasional moments of brilliance. They are, however, unlikely to provide the same regular threat to the England defence that Ecuador did on Wednesday and can themselves be expected to concede, having kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 matches.
England are likely to be back at full-strength for this match after a number of their assumed first-choice players were rested against Ecuador. Hodgson will be keen for his side to go into the World Cup on the back of a victory and a comfortable win should be within England’s reach.
- Back England -1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 9/7 with BetVictor.
- Daniel Sturridge is likely to return to the starting lineup for Saturday’s match and will have an opportunity to extend his national team scoring streak to three matches after producing a superb goal in the win over Peru. He is sure to have one or two good chances here. Back Daniel Sturridge to score at anytime @ 13/10 with Bet365.