San Marino is one of the games where you cannot really please anyone, no matter what you do. If you win 8-0, it means little as it’s only against San Marino. If you win 3-0, it’s not enough. And anything but a win is a total disaster.
England will take a lot of experienced players out there, and they will get the job done. Whatever criticism the exact result and performance draws, they will just look to get the three points and move onto Tuesday’s game in Montenegro.
The biggest concern for England will be frustration. The players and the supporters will of course have expectations, and if they’re not being met they may grow frustrated and that could prove a problem.
They could well score a lot of goals, and probably will, but they will also want to get there as quickly as possible and sometimes you don’t allow the match to take its natural course. That’s when you need the experienced players to calm their younger team-mates down and prevent them from trying to force issues.
But San Marino are so far away from the standards of most international squads, you could imagine England defeating them even if they started the match in the 86th minute and gave San Marino a 1-0 head-start.
A more intriguing World Cup qualifier on Friday involving home nations is the Group A match between Scotland and Wales.
It’s not just a question of who will win, it’s also who is under the most pressure. Scotland are yet to win a game and Chris Coleman hasn’t had the greatest of times since he took over.
Scotland are at home and have that ‘new era’ feeling with Gordon Strachan in charge, but they will also be under a lot of pressure because of those factors.
You look at the players involved and both teams have some good players on show. They should each be doing better than battling over bottom spot in the group.
The key to the game could of course be Gareth Bale and if he plays, as seems to be the case with every Wales and Tottenham Hotspur match now.
Every time Bale gets the ball now, there’s excitement. He has taken on the responsibility of creating and scoring goals and he could prove key. But Strachan is a good manager and will have his players focused on working very hard to neutralise him.
We’ve just seen a fascinating battle for the ‘wooden spoon’ at the Six Nations, and while neither Wales nor Scotland finished bottom in the rugby, it may possibly come down to one of them in Group A.
And of course, I’ll be hoping for Denmark to pull off a decent result on Friday in the Czech Republic.
We’re on a horrible run as of late, and we haven’t won a game since beating Holland 1-0 against all the odds at Euro 2012. Nicklas Bendtner is a big player for us, whatever people think of him, and it will be tough without him – but we’re a good organised side and should be able to get a good away point.
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