England vs Croatia – England prepare as Group 6 World Cup Qualifying takes shape

6th September 2009 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Betting & Odds, World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Betting & Odds

Goals from Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe saw England record a 2-1 friendly victory over Slovenia. In a mediocre affair, England looked generally comfortable ahead of their possible World Cup-clinching game against Croatia on Wednesday. One of the most positive sights was seeing captain John Terry running around and competing hard after a mid week worry about a possible injury. Matthew Upson partnered Terry in central defence and looked a competent back-up player, but not someone who was ready to start in crucial matches. This could cause a slight concern for manager Fabio Capello with Rio Ferdinand missing and Wes Brown not fully fit. The need for a bit of speed in defence to make up for John Terry’s workmanship was visible at times. Terry was unlucky not to score the opening goal after hitting the bar in the first half with a header.

There were plenty of positives to take ahead of the World Cup Qualifier, especially with some crisp passing through midfield, and the wide players getting plenty of room to express themselves. Shaun Wright-Phillips, James Milner and Aaron Lennon added much needed width throughout the game, as well as the attacking full back duo of Ashley Cole and Liverpool’s Glen Johnson who still looks much better going forward than going back.

Wayne Rooney created the first goal with one of the most dubious looking penalty decisions given, the kind of decision that one hopes doesn’t come back as Karma and hurt England at a crucial time. Running into the penalty box, trying to latch onto a ball that was out of reach, Rooney lunged in frustration at the defender and somehow got himself a penalty for doing so. The calm and collected Frank Lampard buried the resulting kick, for a deserved lead. The problem of who partners Rooney up front wasn’t made much easier, as Emile Heskey did what Emile Heskey does, cause a nuisance with his strength to create space.

The dynamic difference however was clear when Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe stepped into the fray at half time and buried the ball in the Slovenian net, for his 5th goal in three England games. Can Capello afford to keep a red hot forward out of the starting line up, or rely on Defoe’s spark to change a game if need be against a tiring defence? Also throwing himself into the equation was Carlton Cole, who has the aerial power of Heskey, but with the added bonus of being good with the ball at his feet and taking on defenders. This was evident towards the end of the game when he beat a Slovenian defender in the box, but finished with a weak spot. As a wild card for the squad, he looks an ideal fit over the likes of Peter Crouch.

Rooney, who could have a had a hat trick on the day, looks ready to burst the net again very soon. His all round game is so important to England, and despite hitting the post with pretty much an open goal, and having a slightly lazy effort cleared off the line, he will be pivotal in steering the home nation past Croatia and into the World Cup Finals. The only blot on the England copybook came when the Slovenian’s nabbed themselves a headed goal at the near post. This was largely down to Glen Johnson not doing anything to stop a cross coming in, and Joleon Lescott being hopelessly out of position in the centre. Keeper Rob Green couldn’t do much as the ball was past him in a flash.

Croatia meanwhile had an important qualifying game at home against Belarus, and an unconvincing, lack lustre show saw them scrape home 1-0. This may give England some hope when they watch the video, but they should bear in mind, the Croats will be more up for the England game, than what was considered a routine job against Belarus.

The Ukraine despatched of bottom dwellers Andorra in a 5-0 rout with Andriy Schevchenko netting himself a goal, and the team collectively three goals from penalty kicks. The former Chelsea player has recently gone back home to where he first made a name for himself at Dynamo Kiev. This keeps them in with a shout of grabbing second place in the group from Croatia, so there will be all to be play for. The Ukraine head to Belarus on Wednesday, at the same time England take on Croatia. England still have to travel to the Ukraine, and will want to ensure that the group has been settled before that happens. From the weekend’s games in Group 8, there should be no reason why Fabio Capello’s men cannot wrap up proceedings on Wednesday.

England vs Croatia betting odds

England to win –  8/13 at PaddyPower
Draw - 45/17 at Expekt
Croatia5/1 at Boylesports

Betting Tip: Unlikely to be a high scoring game. Croatia aren’t made of goals, and England only have to do enough, and will be cautious about history repeating itself. It was Croatia who inflicted England’s last defeat at Wembley in 2007, which ended England’s hopes of reaching Euro 2008. Home form since then has seen England go 8 matches unbeaten at home, and Capello has recorded 13 wins out of 17 games in charge. Statistically this should be a no-brainer to back England.

8/13 isn’t bad for an England win, but not going to bring huge rewards. However, double it up with Rooney to score first which is 5/1 at BlueSquare, then you could be looking at a £80+ return on a £10 stake.
If you really want to push the boat out, then a double on a 1-0 England victory 11/2 and Rooney to score first 5/1 at BlueSquare will bring a £380 return on a ten pound stake.

 




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