BETTING & MATCH PREDICTION
On Friday night, England and Albania go head-to-head at Wembley in Group I of qualifying for next years World Cup.
A win would seal at least a play-off spot for England. However, it would likely be enough to see Gareth Southgate’s team qualify automatically, as the Three Lions face group whipping boys San Marino in their final game of the group.
England are unbeaten in Group I, having claimed five wins and three draws. Last time out, the home team drew 1-1 with Hungary at Wembley. The draw means that the Three Lions are 29 matches unbeaten in World Cup qualifying.
They are also unbeaten in 27 World Cup qualifiers on home soil, which is a record that dates back over 21 years. The draw in their last qualifier ended a 12-match winning streak for England on home soil in qualifying.
The visitors still have a mathematically chance of topping the group. However, they will kick-off this game five points behind the home team and two points behind second-place Poland. They look to have an uphill struggle to make top spot, while even second place could be out of reach.
A 1-0 home defeat against Poland in their last qualifier could prove to be a decisive blow to their hopes of a top-two finish in Group I. The defeat came on the back of three straight wins in qualifying, in which they didn’t concede a goal.
Albania have a decent recent away record in World Cup qualifying, as they have won three of their last four qualifiers on their travels.
England are without backup striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin due to injury. Meanwhile, Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho is omitted from the squad due to a lack of game time of late. Albania are without veteran midfielder Klaus Gjasula due to illness.
England were underwhelming against Hungary at Wembley last time out. However, we are backing Southgate’s team to have too much quality for the visitors in this potentially pivotal encounter.
PREDICTION – HOME WIN
Odds correct at time of publication – please check with your bookmaker before placing a bet as fluctuations can occur.