The Three Lions will be looking for a positive response in the ODI series with South Africa having surrendered their number one Test ranking to the tourists on Monday. Once again much of the media attention has been centred on Kevin Pietersen and the decision to drop him from the one-day series with the Proteas and the Twenty20 World Cup.
England could have done with KP in the mammoth run chase set at Lord’s, but the Three Lions have certainly had the beating of the tourists in the shorter format when on English soil. The two nations have met 16 times in England and it’s the Three Lions that lead the head-to-head 10-5, with one tie.
It was the weather that played the deciding factor in South Africa’s last ODI in 2008 as just three overs were bowled at Cardiff. Before that fixture England had won the previous six successive ODIs against the Proteas in England.
England are doing better than expected, but playing as expected. Roy Hodgson has been known for his pragmatism throughout his managerial career and he’s made his mark on the Three Lions from the off. England are unbeaten through five internationals under the new management, but you would be hard pushed to find anyone that argues that they have been a joy to watch.
Barring the impressive comeback against Sweden, England have scored just one goal in each of the other four internationals since Hodgson took charge. Interestingly each England victory during that period has been 1-0 and that will have tongues wagging ahead of taking on the notoriously defensive Italians. In England’s past three international fixtures against the Azzurri, the side have scored only once.
Italy failed to score in the three warm-up fixtures for the Euros and spread sellers of total goals may also be aware that the Azzuri have averaged 0.7 goals from their past six internationals.
After a couple of poor Test series on the Sub-Continent, England return home for the visit of the West Indies. Even though England suffered defeat against Pakistan and a 1-1 draw with Sri Lanka, form at home remains strong. England have lost only two Tests at home since the start of 2009 and they are still number one in the world rankings.
Couple that with the West Indies woes and the Three Lions will be marking down a 3-0 victory as the bare minimum. The tourists have not won an overseas Test somewhere other than Bangladesh since the Boxing Day Test in South Africa in 2007. Further encouragement for a Three Lions whitewash is that the West Indies last won a Test in England over 12 years ago – since then they have lost 12 times and managed two draws.
The opening Test is at Lord’s and the last time the West Indies were here they lost within three days in 2009.
It wasn’t pretty, but England somehow beat the world and European champions 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. Spain had some 21 shots compared to England’s three, as well as much more of the possession although they were able to make it count where it really mattered.
Fabio Capello will have been delighted with the result and especially with the clean sheet against a side of Spain’s quality. Jolean Lescott and Phil Jagielka were particularly strong at the back and the side will need another decent performance if they are to end a barren run against Sweden.
Spread bettors looking at the win index for Tuesday’s game will be interested to learn that the Three Lions have failed to beat Sweden for 12 consecutive internationals. Sweden also booked their place at Euro 2012 after finishing best runner-up in qualification, winning an impressive eight of their ten matches. However, England’s spread supporters may well have spotted that the Swedes were beaten 2-0 by Denmark at the weekend.
England are tied on 11 points with Montenegro as they head into an international double-header that kicks-off tomorrow night in Sofia. The Three Lions should really have already qualified for Euro 2012, but they failed to beat both Montenegro and Switzerland in their past two internationals. It could have been even worse for Fabio Capello if England hadn’t fought back from two goals down against Switzerland last time out.
Should Montenegro and England win their next two matches, we’re in for a cracker as the two meet in the final fixture looking to avoid the dreaded play-offs. Capello might actually be a little pleased that his side have to make the trip to Bulgaria. Although England have struggled at Wembley, their away form has been terrific. They have won their last three matches and have only conceded once in their two away group matches.
There will be a slight concern that England have drawn their past two meetings with Bulgaria on their own turf. The hosts though are a different side and most noticeably without talisman Dimitar Berbatov.