England kick off their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign on Thursday evening as they host group minnows San Marino at Wembley.
Of course, Gareth Southgate’s troops are overwhelming favourites to earn their first victory of qualifying against a side who have lost each of their last 40 World Cup qualifiers, whilst the Three Lions are undefeated in each of their last two qualifying campaigns. That is certainly indicated in the betting statistics, with the hosts as low as 1/200 with William Hill to earn three points on Thursday. San Marino meanwhile are available at 66/1 to earn what would be a historic victory, whilst only the nation’s third ever World Cup qualification draw can be backed at a price of 33/1.
It may not be a case of predicting the winner then but how many goals that the Three Lions might score. In six previous meetings between the two countries, England have scored five on two occasions, six on a further two and then seven and eight once each. This means that the Three Lions have averaged over six goals per game against San Marino. Intriguingly, over 8.5 goals to be scored at Wembley is available at odds of 21/10 with Betfair so could well be worth a bet.
Of course, if the hosts are to get on the scoresheet with such frequency, they will want their big guns to be on top form. Of course, Harry Kane is one of the favourites to open the scoring and can be backed at a price of 21/10 with Betfred to do just that at Wembley on Thursday. Interestingly, San Marino have scored an own goal in each of the last three clashes between the two sides so it might not actually be an England player to find the net first.
Elsewhere, having only ever scored one goal against England in their history, the opening strike from a San Marino perspective will be quite the achievement, especially with the game being away from home. Mattia Stefanelli is the most likely to do that according to the bookies at odds of 14/1 with William Hill.
Despite being backed as favourites to win and also rack up a few goals, England are missing a few key players from the regular squad. No. 1 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford misses out with an abdominal injury and joins the likes of Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham, Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson and Danny Ings in all being left behind which should give considerable encouragement to the visitors.