England will be confident of continuing their winning start to the Euro 2016 qualifiers when they travel to Tallinn to take on Estonia on Sunday (17:00 BST, live on ITV1).
Roy Hodgson’s side began the qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory away to Switzerland and followed that with a 5-0 victory over San Marino at Wembley on Thursday. They top Group E on goal difference ahead of Lithuania.
England laboured a little against San Marino, misplacing a number of passes in a match that was more like an attack versus defence training session than a genuine competitive fixture. They did, however, still have too much quality for their opponents and ended up recording a comfortable five-goal victory with two goals in the first half and three more in the second.
Danny Welbeck followed his double in the win over Switzerland with another on Thursday as he continues to stake his claim for regular inclusion up front. Wayne Rooney (pictured) also got on the scoresheet but should have done so more than once. San Marino offered little to no attacking threat and Joe Hart and his defence will expect to have more to do on Sunday.
England should have few problems qualifying from a group in which they have already defeated the other high-ranked side away from home. Hodgson can therefore use the remaining fixtures as an opportunity to experiment with different players and tactical setups ahead of the tournament itself. He has employed a diamond midfield in both qualifiers so far.
Hodgson has no further injury worries arising from Thursday’s fixture and was even able to give Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling additional rest by withdrawing them at the interval. Daniel Sturridge, John Stones and Phil Jones continue to be the only injury absentees.
Estonia recorded a good 1-0 victory at home to Slovenia in their opening match of the qualifiers but then lost 1-0 away to Lithuania on Thursday. They are seeking to qualify for their first major international tournament.
Estonia gave a decent account of themselves in Lithuania. Experienced goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko made two or three good saves but was unable to keep out the 76th-minute winner from Saulius Mikoliunas. Estonia rallied late on and managed a couple of good efforts on goal, but then had Ken Kallaste sent off for a second bookable offence in the dying minutes.
Magnus Pehrsson’s side have already accumulated just under half the number of points the country gathered under his predecessor Tarmo Ruutli during the qualifiers for this year’s World Cup. They finished that campaign with seven points following victories home and away to Andorra and a surprise 2-2 draw at home to Netherlands.
Most of Pehrsson’s squad play domestically or for clubs in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Captain Ragnar Klavan is a regular for German Bundesliga side Augsburg, Henri Anier turns out for Erzgebirge Aue in the German second division, while Henrik Ojamaa plays for Motherwell in Scotland. Blackpool’s Sergei Zenjov is their only English-based player.
Pehrsson will be without that suspended Kallaste for Sunday’s match. Full-back Taijo Teniste, a regular during the World Cup qualifiers, was omitted from the squad because of a thigh injury.
Estonia vs England Betting Tips Verdict
England and Estonia were also paired during the qualification process for Euro 2008, with England winning both matches 3-0. Rooney scored in the victory at Wembley and is the only member of the current England squad to have been involved in either fixture. England have won all four of the youth-level matches between the sides.
England have made a good start to their qualifying campaign and will expect to come away from Tallinn with all three points. Their final-third play often lacked precision against a packed San Marino defence, but they should have a little more space to work in on Sunday. Rooney, Sterling and Welbeck will be confident of breaching the home defence.
Estonia know that their qualification hopes are unlikely to hinge on their results against England but will nevertheless be keen to give a good account of themselves on home soil. They do, however, lack the necessary firepower in attack to cause England any great problems, having failed to score in six of their 10 qualifiers for the last World Cup.
- Back England -2 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 15/13 with Unibet. Your stake is returned if England win by two goals, while a winning margin of three or more sees the bet pay out.
- Welbeck has scored in both of the qualifiers to date and will be keen to score again on Sunday to prove he is worthy of retaining his place in the side once Sturridge returns from injury. Back Danny Welbeck to score at anytime @ best odds of evens with Bet365.