Wayne Rooney scored one of England’s eight against San Marino on Friday evening as they completed the first part of their two match assignment. Roy Hodgson is under no illusion that Tuesday’s game with Montenegro is the most important in England’s qualifying campaign to date.
Montenegro edged out Moldova 1-0 on Friday night and had to do so with ten men for 29 minutes following Milorad Pekovic’s dismissal. Hodgson had the chance to rest players in their easy win and one of those was Rooney, who went off shortly after scoring his goal.
That was Rooney’s fifth strike in his past four internationals. He was sent off in the last meeting with the Montenegrins and the Manchester United striker will feel he owes his country a performance as England went on to blow a 2-0 lead that day.
England host Brazil at Wembley tonight with the visitors having smashed in 22 goals and conceded just three in their last six games as Luiz Felipe Scholari’s men go in search of the form that will land them a sixth World Cup crown on home soil in 2014.
Roy Hodgson has already confirmed that Ashley Cole will play, and in the process pick up his 100th international cap for the Three Lions, but Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge have been ruled out up front through injury.
Hodgson has also said the Manchester United trio of Wayne Rooney, Tom Cleverly and Danny Welbeck will be used sparingly.
That could leave the hosts vulnerable against the likes of Neymar and the recently recalled Ronaldinho, who’s audacious free-kick nearly ten years ago in the World Cup quarter-final between the sides knocked England out and still gives David Seaman nightmares to this day.
Only one of the last 14 friendlies between the two sides featured over 2.5 goals and England have only ever beaten Brazil three times in 23 meetings.
England have won just one of their last four games and that was against minnows San Marino.
Despite apparently impressive recent stats, Brazil have only had to play the likes of China, Iraq and Japan in their latest fixtures and have drawn (1-1 with Colombia) and lost 2-1 (Argentina) in their last two games.
Steven Gerrard is set to become only the sixth England player to make 100 appearances for his country when England take on Sweden on Wednesday evening. Roy Hogdson’s squad has a very different look to it given that five regular starters have pulled out because of injury. Leon Osman, Wilfried Zaha and Raheem Sterling are all in line for their first cap.
This will be the first time these nations have met since that memorable 3-2 win at the European Championships. Danny Welbeck scored a brilliant winner 12 minutes from time and late goals have been a feature of recent England matches. The average time of England’s last goal over the past five internationals currently stands at 71 minutes.
Sweden also have a habit of late goals and they completed an incredible comeback from 4-0 down against Germany last time out. The equalising goal arrived in the 90th minute and the average time of Sweden’s last goal across the past three matches is 85.
England were expected to hammer San Marino and that’s exactly what they did on Friday evening to get this two match run off to a decent start. Everyone knew that the real test would be in Poland on Tuesday evening as Roy Hodgson hopes to cement their place at the top of Group H.
The Three Lions’ 5-0 win meant that the side are now unbeaten in 15 successive internationals. Further encouragement for those supporters making the trip to Warsaw can be found in England’s vastly superior head-to-head record over Poland. The Three Lions have not lost against the Poles for 14 matches – a run including nine victories.