England travel to the Nacional de Andorra on Saturday night knowing they are just eight points away from confirming their participation in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where coach Gareth Southgate is celebrating his fifth anniversary in office.
Southgate has now joined a notable roster of former England coaches Walter Winterbottom, Sir Alfa Ramsey, Bobby Robson and Sven-Goran Eriksson, who spent five years in the role.
Five years ago on Friday Southgate was in their first leg, an unfortunate 2-0 home win over Malta, a streak of progress that continues to this day.
“It was just progress”
“It’s important to remember the circumstances under which Southgate took power,” he says. Sky Sports News Rob Dorsett.
“England were in chaos: Sam Allardyce had only had one game before his shameful departure, and just months before that England were humiliatedly knocked out of the euro by Iceland – l one of the worst days in English football history, you say.
“It’s only progress since then. Yes, his critics will continue to say that he was too defensive at times, but there’s no denying that he changed teams.
Only four members of the current squad have played against Malta – Kyle Walker, John Stones, Jordan Henderson and Jesse Lingard – and statistics show this to be the most successful period in England since Sir Alpha Ramsey, when the England won the World Cup.
And maybe there is an answer to some of these criticisms in the statistics: England have scored more than two goals per game – more prolific than for Erikson, Robson and Greenwood – and of course England have reached the semi-finals of the World Cup and the final of the European Championship. in the last few years.
“There has been real, real progress – and perhaps the biggest achievement is how Southgate has made this band so loved.”
Southgate’s offensive dilemma
Most of the pre-game talk focused on who would start attacking and how Southgate could match the Man City trio of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling in their three-way attack line.
“Foden has been Manchester City’s best player this season so far, easy and straightforward, and seems to have fully recovered from his foot injury at the start of the season,” said Dorsett.
Meanwhile, Grealish have started each of City’s seven Premier League games this season – one goal, one assist.
“Pep Guardiola used Foden and Grealish – and Gabriel Jesus – as part of a very aerodynamic leading trio and all take it in turns, Grealsh and Foden playing the wrong number 9 at times, making it very difficult to defend against him at times.
“You don’t expect Southgate to do this because he has the best number 9 in the world and trying to get Foden, Grealish and Raheem Sterling at the same time is very difficult.
Sterling has spent less time at City this season, having been on the bench five out of seven times, but for England he has been fantastic – 70 appearances, 18 goals, 23 assists and is only 26 years old.
Will Kane start?
Another pre-match debate concerns Harry Kane and whether the England captain will hold his place in the attack after a slow start to the season with Tottenham.
“There are two ways Southgate can handle this game,” Dorsett said. Will he start with the strongest team, hoping to lead him by a few goals, then let some of those players rest in the toughest game to return home to Hungary on Tuesday night?
Or will she give a little more to the second series like Conor Cody and Tyrone Mings?
“Kane is an interesting person because he has yet to score in the Premier League and we know he has had ankle problems, two injuries before, and the third generation surface is not the best here.”
When can England qualify for the World Cup?
England only need three wins to be sure of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, starting on Saturday’s match in Andorra.
Gareth Southgate’s men are now four points ahead of second-placed Albania, which leads Group A after six games with just four games to go.
England travel to Andorra on Saturday night and host the Hungarians fourth at Wembley on Tuesday night. Their qualifying campaign ends with the welcoming of Albania on November 12 and three days later they head to the worst club in San Marino.
Wins in England’s three consecutive games would give them an unpredictable advantage at the top of the group, although if Albania give up one of the next two games, in Budapest and at home against Poland, Southgate could confirm the qualification. in the next game. to win. Matches against Andorra and Hungary, if there are other results.
Team news: Tripper at England captain
Kieran Trippier to lead England against Andorra on Saturday night Sky Sports News Understood.
This will only be the second time that an Atletico Madrid defender has taken control of his country, which he captained against Wales 12 months ago.
The move indicates that neither Kane nor Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson will start on Saturday.
Reference time – The Saturday referee team composed only of women
The all-female team of judges will lead England’s World Cup qualifiers on Saturday in Andorra.
Katerina Monzul was chosen as judge, along with Ukrainian deputy judges Marina Streltska and Svetlana Grushko.
VAR is Stéphanie Frappart from France, but VAR’s fourth official and assistant judge are male – Denis Schuurmann and Victor Matthias respectively.
It was at this historic moment that a woman referee a senior match in England for the first time.
Sterling wants to make history with England
In an exclusive interview, Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling talks about his footballing career in England so far, a career that spanned nine years after making his international debut at the age of 17.
- England have won all five games against Andorra, scoring 20 goals and losing nothing, with all games played in either the European Nations Cup or World Cup qualifiers.
- Andorra is the only country to have faced England five times without scoring a single goal. In their 4-0 loss at Wembley in September, they only managed one shot.
- England drew 1-1 with Poland in their final World Cup qualifier, conceding it in the 90th minute, failing to go two consecutive major qualifiers unbeaten against the Russia and Croatia in November 2007, those results eliminating the Three Lions with Euro 2008 competition.
- Having conceded 14 goals in four home games – all losses – Andorra were undefeated in their last two home games, a 0-0 draw against Gibraltar and a 2-0 win over San Marino.
- England have lost just eight minutes and 53 seconds in their last 16 appearances, all of which were in the Euro 2020 semi-finals against Denmark. They had only arrived late in two of the last 24 World Cup qualifiers, against Scotland in June 2017 (2-2 draw) and Slovakia in September 2017 (2-1 victory).
- Max Lovira of Andorra scored the most assists for his country in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers (82 in five matches), although in a 4-0 loss at Wembley he did not. that one. For comparison, in the victory against Andorra in September, three English players – Jordan Henderson (108), Conor Coady (105) and Tyrone Mings (100) did more.
- 36 of Harry Kane’s 41 goals for England have come in international matches. Rooney has scored one goal every 154 minutes in competitive games, while Kane averages one goal every 118 minutes.
- Harry Kane has scored nine goals in 13 games in 2021 for England – if he scores again he will become the second player to score more than 10 goals in more than a calendar year for the Three Lions, scoring 12 goals in 2019; The second is Vivian Woodward, who scored 10 goals in 1908 and 11 in 1909. Kane and Woodward both achieved the feat while playing for Tottenham Hotspur.
How to follow the qualifiers for the World Cup in England?
Follow Andorra vs England on Saturday 9 October (7.45 p.m.) on our live blog and watch match highlights for free on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as on the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel, from 11.00 p.m. .
England face Hungary on Tuesday 12 October (7.45 p.m.), and highlights from the free match will also be available from 11.00 p.m.
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