England will expect nothing less than a resounding victory as they head into tonight’s fixture with minnows San Marino, who have only ever won one game and sit in last place in the Fifa world rankings. Roy Hodgson’s well documented defensive crisis means that he is likely to partner Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling at the heart of the back four.
Victory could propel England back to the top of Group H should Montenegro slip up against Moldova, although it is more likely that a potential return to the group’s summit will be determined in Tuesday’s game against the current leaders. Hodgson’s men currently sit two points behind their Montenegro counterparts, and the England manager will be keen to secure a big win to boost his side’s goal difference.
The last time the two sides met, England completed a satisfying 5-0 victory at Wembley.
KICK-OFF: Friday, 8pm.
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
England 5 (Rooney 2, Welbeck 2, Oxlade-Chamberlain) San Marino 0, World Cup qualifying, October 2012
San Marino 1 (Gualtieri) England 7 (Wright 4, Ince 2, Ferdinand), World Cup qualifying, November 1993.
England 6 (Platt 4, Palmer, Ferdinand) San
Marino 0, World Cup qualifying, February
England will be without Gary Cahill, Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson and Rio Ferdinand after all withdrew from the squad. Theo Walcott is also out.
Steven Taylor could make his England debut in the game.
San Marino have only ever won one match – a 1-0 victory against Lichtenstein in 2004.
Davide Gualtieri’s goal against England in 1993 was the only goal the hosts have ever scored against England. It is still the fastest goal in World Cup qualifying history – 8.3 seconds into the game.
San Marino to win: 150
England to win: 0.006
CLASSIC MATCH ...
San Marino 1 England 7 – 1993. A bitter night in Bologna resulted in England failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, and this would also be the game which resulted in Graham Taylor losing his job as England manager. Needing to win by more than seven goals to qualify, 2000 travelling England fans witnessed a horror start when Stuart Pearce’s mistimed back-pass fell to the feet of Davide Gualtieri, who netted for the minnows after just 8.3 seconds. Despite England scoring seven subsequent goals, they were unsuccessful in their task and failed to make the trip to the USA the following year.
TV: Live on ITV at 8pm, highlights on ITV at 10.45pm.
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