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
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Arturo Vidal to Real Madrid: Transfer news live - Sergio Ramos to Manchester United, Lukas Podolski to leave Arsenal
Copa America 2015: When does it start, what channel is it on and who should I support?
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her