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England vs Montenegro – Tactics, Match Preview And Prediction

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England resumes its World Cup Qualifying campaign tomorrow with a crucial clash against Montenegro.  Top of Group H with 16 points, England can clinch automatic qualification for Brazil with maximum points from the remaining two group games.


After a plodding but effective draw against the Ukraine, Roy Hodgson has some critical formation and personnel decisions to make.  Grinding out an important point away from home is one thing, pressing home your technical superiority for a win in London is quite another.  Hodgson is inclined to play with five across the middle, often utilizing Wayne Rooney as the lone striker. With Sturridge, Welbeck and Lambert also available and in good form, England may revert to a fluid 4-4-2 with Rooney free to roam behind the front line.  The pressure will be on the England manager to resist his conservative tendencies and push for a convincing victory.

Meanwhile, England’s midfield is a microcosm of the angst currently surrounding the national team.  Greg Dyke, the Football Association chairman, believes that winning a major international tournament is not a realistic goal until at least 2022 and that English football “is a tanker that needs turning.”  Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are almost certain to start, but at 33 and 35 years of age respectively, it illustrates why the FA is now looking past the ‘golden generation’ for tournament success.

Wilshere to stay with Arsenal
Wilshere has been targeted by the media recently

With focus now turning to the future, Jack Wilshere has experienced a difficult and controversial start to the season.  The British press has always shown a peculiar appetite for creating, destroying and then resurrecting its footballing heroes.  Wilshere may be only 21 years old and with a mere 10 caps to his name but he is already acutely familiar with the media scrutiny you can expect as a young Englishman.

Feted in 2010 as England’s savior, he was then deemed unprepared for international football following the draw in Kiev. It certainly wasn’t Wilshere’s best performance but that certainly didn’t distinguish him from any other player in an England shirt that night.  Then there were the now infamous comments about English players playing for England.  Wilshere merely attempted to address the incredibly nuanced debate regarding nationality and football and hasn’t been off the back pages since.   Having spent the majority of the season playing out of position and below par for Arsenal, England fans will be hoping Hodgson will know how to best utilize his undoubted talent.  Jack Wilshere will be hoping that, for a while at least, he can let his football do the talking.

The defense presents fewer headaches with the extremely capable Leighton Baines stepping in for the injured Ashley Cole.  All eyes will instead be on the goalkeeper, Joe Hart, who is experiencing something of a crisis of confidence.  Several high-profile errors for Manchester City have raised doubts as to whether Hart should warrant an automatic starting berth. Despite playing in the lesser-regarded Scottish Premiership, Fraser Forster in particular has acquitted himself well with some eye catching performances in the UEFA Champions League.   By all indications, Roy Hodgson feels that with so much on the line at Wembley, Joe Hart’s experience at this level will weigh heavily in his favor.

The man to watch for Montenegro is the excellent Stefan Savic who has been in electrifying form for Fiorentina in Serie A. Manager Branko Brnovic will also be hoping that Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic  and Manchester City’s Stevan Jovetic can shake off some lingering injury concerns for the visitors.  Even in light of the lowered expectations for the national side,England still expects and anything less than a win will really start the alarming bells ringing at the tabloids.


England to win the game by two goals.

And lets continue with our live blog for the night:

Just 180 minutes of football separate England from a place at the Brazil 2014 World Cup but if Roy Hodgson’s side are to stand a chance of qualifying they must beat Montenegro this coming Friday.

As it stands England are just one point ahead of Ukraine and Montenegro in Group H but will be buoyed by their 4-0 win over Moldova last month, in which Steven Gerrard, Rickie Lambert and Danny Welbeck all made it onto the scoresheet. Montenegro drew with Poland 1-1 in early September but if the broadsheets are to be believed, Branko Brnovic’s side are viewing Friday’s game as a potential giant killing.

First time round England could only muster a 1-1 draw with Montenegro away in Podgorica after a late goal from Dejan Damjanovic, and Hodgson is well aware of the dangers posed by the opposition.

“They’re well organised and a tough team to play, they’re dangerous from set-plays and a big and strong team,” he told the FA. “They’re a team that knows how to defend and a team that will ask questions of us too.

“They will expect us to take the game to them and take the initiative and they’ll be trying to use the counter-attacking opportunities. So we can’t throw players forward to try and score goals and leave ourselves exposed. We know the task ahead and we can’t criticise Montenegro for that.”

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