England face San Marino at Wembley tomorrow. Roy Hodgson’s side are expected to win heavily, after all, the tiny landlocked republic are ranked a paltry 207th and last in the FIFA World Rankings and have lost all but 6 of their 114 Internationals.
Realistically what can England expect to achieve from this match. What can Hodgson learn from his squad and how can the players that are involved benefit by playing?
Firstly England regardless of what team is put out tomorrow should win by at least five goals, in fact anything less and there’ll be lots of head scratching after the game. England historically have not bashed the minnows of groups in the past too often oddly enough.
The side have to go out and be ruthless and score as many goals as possible. Germany and Holland are prime examples of countries that make the most out of these fixtures and play more or less their strongest sides. Don’t feel sorry if you are 4/5-0 up after 60mins, go out there and increase the lead. Don’t sit back for once!
Hodgson has to give his strikers a chance to go out there and fill up their boots. After all games like this are there for your strikers to do just that and add to their International goal tally. Yes fans may say that ‘oh it’s only San Marino’ but goals breed confidence and as a striker it’s always good to score goals. Right now both Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck could do with a goal under their belt after a scoreless start to the season so they won't be taking this match lightly at all.
Lukas Podolski and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar certainly have enjoyed playing against San Marino in the past with the two combined scoring just the 9 (yes that’s nine) goals against them. So tomorrow gives the chance for England’s strikers to enjoy themselves; a goal’s a goal at the end of the day, no matter who it’s scored against!
Hodgson can learn an awful lot about how his younger and inexperienced players from how they perform tomorrow. The recently re-called Aaron Lennon has failed to impress for England in the past and that’s been against proven International players.
If selected he must be expected to breeze past his marker and show his supposed-class once and for all. If he can’t then in all honesty he shouldn’t be involved in the team, despite his good start to the season for Spurs. It’s up to him to show that he does belong in an England squad and that he can push on.
The match gives a chance for players such as Kyle Walker and Leighton Baines to get another 90 minutes under their belts. Walker would have gone to Euro 2012 but for injury and long-term is a better option than Glen Johnson.
Baines on the other hand has started England’s last three matches and is emerging as the biggest challenger for Ashley Cole’s position in the team that the Chelsea man has ever had. Whilst he won’t probably start against Poland (he may not even play tomorrow) when Cole will certainly get the nod, if selected tomorrow it gives the reliable Merseysider another chance to show his worth to Hodgson and the fans.
It may only be San Marino tomorrow but a good performance or a goal tomorrow for any of the lads will only be a good thing, certainly for the players who haven’t scored or played particularly well for England it give them the confidence and boost that they can do it, and even if it is against a minnow, this psychologically make such a huge difference going into their next appearance if they’ve done well previously.
Then again perhaps it is only San Marino tomorrow and that the only thing that matters is that the 90,000 odd fans go home happy after seeing England smash 7/8 goals in a one-sided match where you can’t learn anything. Who knows?
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87