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England rounded off their Nations League campaign with a 4-0 dismantling of Iceland and it means they’ve now won six of their past nine at home by at least three clear goals. Elite side Belgium and solid outfit Denmark accounted for two of those exceptions, while the other was a 5-3 win over Kosovo as the Three Lions shot themselves in the foot defensively.
There appears virtually no prospect of an away goal here. Davide Gualtieri’s strike in 1993 lives on in folklore, but goals are a rare thing for the visitors even when taking on the weakest of opposition.
By San Marino’s standards, a run of two draws from three games represents stellar form, though these goalless stalemates were achieved against fellow minnows Liechtenstein and Gibraltar in the Nations League.
Prior to that, the visitors had lost 40 in a row going back to the start of 2015, and including those recent results they’ve failed to score in 30 of 32 appearances since November 2016 – netting against Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
England have met San Marino six times dating back to 1993 and they’ve won each of them by a minimum five-goal margin. Four of those meetings have come in the last decade, most recently crossing paths in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, and if anything England’s attack looks in better shape this time around.
Indeed, in the most recent qualifying campaign for the Euros, San Marino lost eight of 10 matches by minimum four-goal margins, as five of these games saw their opponents triumph by an even bigger margin.
More importantly, up against the best sides San Marino have encountered since 2014 (Belgium, England and Germany twice each, as well as Croatia and Italy), they’ve lost the eight fixtures by a combined 57-0, as the lowest-scoring game was a 4-0 defeat.
With upcoming fixtures against Albania and particularly Poland offering a greater threat to England’s prospects, Gareth Southgate will surely hand opportunities to the lesser lights in his squad. However, although this match should amount to little more than a training exercise, there’ll no shortage of players seeking to impress as they stake a claim for inclusion in the final Euros squad.
Phil Foden To Score Anytime
One of Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Ollie Watkins is sure to lead the line, but one man who seems set to start is Man City’s Phil Foden. The 20-year-old has two goals and an assist from 158 minutes in an England shirt so far, as well as 11 goals for his club side this term, and an ability to operate in tight spaces marks him out as one to find room to get a shot or two away.
It’s a matter of when, not if, the floodgates open here. San Marino have conceded inside 15 minutes in 12 of their last 24 matches and England should expect to better most team’s opening times.
Three of the last four meetings have seen the first goal go in inside 15 minutes, with the exception talking 24 minutes to break the deadlock, and we’d expect the Three Lions to get started early and carry on scoring.