Mean defence and sharp strikers will make Montenegro's pan-Europeans hard to beat
Montenegro will go into Tuesday's game in the hotbed of Podgorica on a run of eight unbeaten matches and in fine heart. On Friday they won 1-0 in Moldova to remain two points clear of England in Group H, Mirko Vucinic scoring the only goal after Milorad Pekovic had been sent off for a second yellow card.
Pekovic plays for Furth in the Bundesliga, and as our graphic illustrates, a squad of players increasingly well regarded is spread around clubs all over Europe and in one case, South Korea. The three best appear regularly in Serie A: midfielder Stefan Savic and the striker Stevan Jovetic – much admired by Arsenal among others – at Fiorentina, and leading goalscorer Vucinic at Juventus. For a time, such diversity – only one player actually has a Montenegrin club – was a handicap, but now the squad appears to have knitted together with great success.
The country's football team split from Serbia only in 2006, and the 2010 World Cup was their first competition. A 0‑0 draw at Wembley in October of that year was raucously celebrated, the 2‑2 draw against England at home in 2011 even more so, as it meant that they would qualify for a play-off, which the Czech Republic won.
Zlatko Kranjcar, father of the former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder Niko, was replaced as coach by his assistant, Branko Brnovic, and Montenegro have not lost in their eight games since, scoring in every one and keeping four successive clean sheets to put a first tournament finals in view.
Latest in Sport
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
EXCLUSIVE: F1 heading for eastern revolution as new team emerges from Romania
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
Daniel Sturridge injury: Liverpool striker suggests problems could be linked with 'Caribbean vibes'
Capital One Cup fifth-round draw: Chelsea meet Derby, Tottenham face Newcastle, Liverpool travel to Bournemouth
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 3 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
- 4 North Korean officials 'publicly executed for watching South Korean soap operas'
- 5 Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything