England v Poland: Lions to book Brazil spot with room to spare
Fresh from their most convincing display of the qualifying campaign, England’s mission is simple and despite the pressure upon their shoulders, this is an assignment the Three Lions can pass without flaying too many fingernails.
It’s only natural that the English media dredge up the horrors of qualifications past, such as the infamous failure to reach World Cup 1974, thanks to a draw against the very same opponents at Wembley some 40 years ago.
However, not only is there a new Wembley standing in place of the old, but circumstances are vastly different and the evidence suggests England’s rather short price of 2/9 to get the job done is justifiable, if not vastly profitable.
Technically Poland have nothing to play for, whereas in 1973 they most certainly did, as their own qualification was assured by gaining a point.
Conversely, the present Poland side have endured a disappointing campaign which resulted in elimination after their most recent loss to Ukraine.
And although the notion of having ‘nothing to play for’ must be approached with caution – as Croatia proved in that disastrous loss at Wembley in 2007 which cost England their place at Euro 2008 – if the hosts can bag the first goal, then Poland’s resistance could easily crumble.
Although it took England until the first five minutes after the break to notch against Montenegro, the stats at Wembley show encouragement that Hodgson’s side cannot only take the lead, but push on to score a few more.
Prior to the win over Montenegro, England had scored in the first half of their last five contests in all competitions at Wembley, while they’ve now scored 11 times in their last three outings at the home of football.
A few punts worth considering therefore could be the 8/15 on England to score first in the opening 45, the same odds on home/home in the Half-time/Full-time market, or the 1/1 on England scoring 2-3 goals.
Meanwhile, England’s inability to keep a clean sheet at Wembley against any other opponent than Moldova or San Marino, since defeating Belgium 1-0 in June 2012, adds attraction to the 23/10 on both teams scoring in an England win.