European Championship Qualifier: England vs San Marino match preview

A look ahead to Thursday’s European Championship Qualifying fixture at Wembley

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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson will be expecting a crushing, goal-difference improving victory for his side over the joint lowest-ranked team in world football.

England are still without Daniel Sturridge and have had to call up Calum Chambers as a late replacement for John Stones, but whatever squad Hodgson puts out he will be hoping for a glut of goals – England have never failed to score less than five against their opponents.

Not that England have always had it their way against the Sammarinese: they famously conceded within 10 seconds during a World Cup qualifier in 1993, Graham Taylor’s final match in charge.

Without any realistic hope of a result San Marino can go into the game with no pressure, and it is difficult not to warm to their squad of part-timers.

Pierangelo Manzaroli’s motley crew of accountants, clerks and bar-owners are tied in 208th place with Bhutan in the Fifa World Rankings, and have never won a competitive fixture.

Star man and captain Andy Selva carved out a decent career as a journeyman for a series of Italian sides, but is now 38 – he is San Marino’s leading international goalscorer with eight in 66 games.      

KICK-OFF: Thursday, 7.45pm

PAST THREE MEETINGS…

San Marino 0 England 8 (Della Valla OG, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Defoe 2, Young, Lampard, Rooney, Sturridge), World Cup Qualifying, March 2013

England 5 (Rooney 2, Welbeck 2, Oxlade-Chamberlain) San Marino 0, World Cup Qualifying, October 2012

San Marino 1 (Gualtieri) England 7 (Ince 2, Wright 4, Ferdinand), World Cup Qualifying, November 1993

STATS…

David Gualtieri’s goal after 8.3 seconds against England in 1993 was the fastest ever goal in the history of the World Cup.

An England player has scored four goals in two of the sides’ four meetings so far. David Platt netted four in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley in February 1993, and Ian Wright repeated the feat in the return fixture.

England’s 8-0 victory in San Marino in March 2013 was the first time they had scored eight goals in the game for more than 25 years, since an 8-0 victory over Turkey in October 1987.

England have scored 26 goals and conceded just one in their four meetings.

San Marino are joint-208 and last place in the FIFA World Rankings. They have won just one official fixture, against Liechtenstein in a friendly in April 2004.

ODDS…

England to win: 1.006

San Marino to win: 81.0

Draw: 26.0

CLASSIC MOMENT/MATCH

England needed to beat San Marino by seven clear goals to have any mathematical chance of qualifying for the 1994 World Cup when the two sides met in November 1993 but got off to a nightmare start when Stuart Pearce’s back-pass was seized upon by David Gualtieri straight from the kick-off to score after just 8.3 seconds, a competition record. Despite four goals from Ian Wright, England could only win 7-1, but results elsewhere spared Pearce’s blushes - England would have been knocked out anyway.

TV: Live on ITV1, 7.45 pm, highlights on ITV1 at 10.40pm.

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