England’s World Cup preparations begin in earnest when they host Peru at Wembley on Friday (20:00 BST, live on ITV).
England qualified for Brazil 2014 by topping Group H ahead of Ukraine, with 22 points from six wins, four draws and no defeats. They have won one (against Denmark) and lost two (against Chile and Germany) of their three subsequent friendly matches.
Roy Hodgson has been criticised in the past for his lack of tactical imagination, but showed a greater willingness to experiment towards the end of the qualifying campaign, moving away from the rigid 4-4-2 that has become his trademark. England have lined up in 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 variants in recent times and the latter is their most likely starting formation in Brazil.
Aside from the exclusion of Ashley Cole, there were no other major surprises in Hodgson’s squad. It does, however, feature plenty of zesty youngsters, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and the older but internationally inexperienced Adam Lallana. England will certainly not be short on enthusiasm this summer.
Friday’s friendly will provide Hodgson with another opportunity to test the potentially fruitful strike partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney. The pair scored 38 goals between them during the Premier League season but have only started together at international level on five previous occasions. With the right support they could be a match-winning duo.
Manchester United defender Phil Jones will miss Friday’s match due to a shoulder injury. James Milner did not take part in Tuesday’s training session after coming down with a cold but is expected to be available for selection.
Peru failed to qualify for the World Cup after finishing seventh in the South American qualifying group with 15 points from four wins, three draws and nine defeats. Coach Sergio Markarian left shortly thereafter and was replaced by his assistant Pablo Bengoechea.
Friday will be Bengoechea’s first match in charge of the national team and he has picked a youthful squad for the trip to Europe. Carlos Zambrano, Claudio Pizarro, Jefferson Farfan, Juan Vargas and Paolo Guerrero have all been omitted for one reason or another, with young prospects such as Cristian Benavente, Edison Flores and Jean Deza selected in their place.
Bengoechea has a contract until next summer’s Copa America and will hope to use Friday’s match and the upcoming friendly against Switzerland to test potential members of his squad for that tournament. Peru had problems at both ends of the pitch during their qualification campaign and changes are required if they hope to compete for a place at Russia 2018.
Peru are one of three Latin American sides that England will face before the World Cup, presumably in preparation for their group opponents Costa Rica and Uruguay. Of the two, it is Costa Rica whom Peru are most comparable to. Bengoechea’s side are likely to line up in a 3-5-2 formation and will seek to break quickly from a solid defensive base.
Benavente will miss Friday’s match after picking up a muscle strain in his left thigh during training. He is expected to return for the match against Switzerland on the 3rd June.
England v Peru Betting Tips Verdict
These two countries have only met on two previous occasions. Peru were 4-1 winners in Lima in 1959 but England got their revenge three years later, winning 4-0 at the same venue. Friday’s match will be their first meeting on English soil. England have won one, lost two and drawn two in their last five matches against South American opposition.
The injection of youth into their ranks appears to have enlivened the England squad and engendered a feel-good atmosphere. Nearly half of the squad have 10 or less caps to their name and there is a greater element of the unknown about this side in comparison to those who have competed in recent tournaments.
Peru have good pace in their ranks, particularly in the wing-back and forward positions, and are certainly capable of causing England problems if they can transition efficiently from defence to attack. England should, however, have little trouble dominating the centre of the pitch, while their vibrant attack is likely to prove too much for the Peruvian defence. England are clear 1/3 odds-on favourites to emerge victorious in this match at Wembley.
- Back England -1.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 19/20 with BetVictor or Bet365.
- Sturridge scored England’s only goal in their friendly victory over Denmark in March and scored an elite 0.83 goals per 90 minutes for Liverpool over the course of the Premier League season. His partnership with Rooney is still in its infancy but they are capable of cutting through the Peruvian defence. Back Daniel Sturridge to score at anytime @ biggest odds of 21/20 with Bet365.
Bookies Special Offers On England v Peru
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