Following a winning start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, England can make it two out of two away to Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday (19:45 GMT, live on ITV).
If there were any doubts over England’s status as the clear favourites a top a group that also features Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Kosovo, they were cast aside by their 5-0 thrashing of the second highest ranked side, the Czechs, at Wembley on Friday.
Raheem Sterling gave England the lead following excellent work from Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho, the other members of the front three. Kane then doubled their advantage from the penalty spot late into the first half. Sterling completed his hat-trick with a pair of goals in quick succession past the hour mark and a Czech own goal finished things off.
Gareth Southgate expressed his delight at a vibrant attacking performance that again showed the benefits of the 4-3-3 formation that has now become his side’s default alignment. It provides better balance in midfield than the three-at-the-back systems England had used previously. The employment of a front three has really brought out the best in both Kane and Sterling. The latter received special praise from his coach.
There were further positives to be taken from the introduction of two debutants in the form of West Ham midfielder Declan Rice and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi. The latter played a part in the final goal and in stepping out onto the pitch became, at the age of 18 years and 135 days, the youngest player to feature for England in a competitive international.
Southgate’s side have performed well enough since last summer’s World Cup to suggest that while their run to the semi-final of that competition maybe benefited from a relatively favourable draw, they are good enough to make similar progress in future tournaments. It will pay not to draw too many conclusions from a qualifying campaign in which they are rarely likely to be seriously tested, but England do seem to be moving in the right direction. The betting has England as third favourites in the Euro 2020 odds to win the whole thing.
After seeing off the team who were on paper most likely to cause them problems, England now travel east to take on a weaker Montenegro side.
The Montenegro national team began to compete as a separate entity in 2007 following the country’s independence from Serbia and Montenegro. They are yet to qualify for a major international tournament at six attempts, but did come close during the qualifiers for Euro 2012. They drew twice with England en route to finishing second in the group, only to lose out to the Czech Republic in the playoff round.
Their hopes of breaking through and qualifying for Euro 2020 were certainly not harmed by their credible 1-1 draw away to Bulgaria in their opening match of the group on Friday. Stefan Mugosa gave them the lead early into the second half, only for a late penalty to see their hosts equalise.
Ljubisa Tumbakovic’s side will have to maintain a consistency they simply haven’t showed in recent times if they are to secure the top-two finish they would need to qualify. They finished third of four teams in their UEFA Nations League group and have won just two of their last 13 internationals, alongside six defeats and five draws.
Montenegro have a smattering of players in the big five European leagues, with former Manchester City players Stefan Savic and Steven Jovetic the most well-known of them, but the general level of the squad is relatively low. With Jovetic missing through injury, it is difficult to see them carrying enough of a goal threat to cause England significant problems.
Our Preview’s Montenegro vs England Betting Tips Verdict
England did have a few issues on their two previous visits to Podgorica, escaping with a point apiece from 2-2 and 1-1 draws in 2011 and 2013 respectively, but even home advantage is unlikely to be enough to sway this meeting in Montenegro’s favour. England can be expected to build on their opening victory by taking another three points on Monday. The betting tip we advise for this Montenegro vs England preview is:
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