The three Slovenian stars who might cause England problems at Wembley
England play their penultimate qualifying game on their road to Russia on Thursday night.
Slovenia are the visitors and they’re a side the Three Lions have come to know well in recent years.
The pair met 12 months ago in their first qualifying encounter, playing out a rather forgettable 0-0.
And that was after meeting twice in qualification for Euro 2016.
England won those games, but only after going behind on both occasions.
So Slovenia have a habit of making things difficult, and we’ve highlighted three players who could do so again at Wembley.
With more than 300 appearances in Serie A and La Liga combined, Valter Birsa is one of Slovenia’s most experienced forwards.
The 31-year-old can play in a range of offensive roles, which could cause Southgate’s men a few tactical headaches.
Formerly with AC Milan, Birsa is currently one of the first names on the teamsheet for Chievo, netting once and supplying two assists in Serie A this season.
At 6ft 2in, Tim Matavz brings a physical presence to Slovenia’s attack.
The 28-year-old has been in great form this season with Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands, bagging five goals from seven in the Eredivisie.
Matavz’s international ratio is slightly over one goal in three, and having failed to score in his last two national appearances, should be due one very soon.
Arguably Slovenia’s most talented player right now, Josip Ilicic is a man England’s defence must stick close to.
The 28-year-old attacking midfielder has consistently produced the goods in Serie A, the Champions League and the Europa League for a solid eight years now.
And the Atalanta ace has found a rich vein of form for his national side in 2017 too, bagging three goals from four games.
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