Match Preview: England vs Slovakia: 2018 World Cup Qualifying Group F Match Day Eight

World Cup 2018

Gareth Southgate’s England welcome a strong Slovakia side to Wembley Stadium in 2018 World Cup Qualifying Group F tonight, with a chance to secure a place at Russia 2018.

The Three Lions come into the tie as clear favorites, but knowing that the opponents can more than pack a punch in this top of the Group clash, as they sit in second place and just two points off The Three Lions.

When?

The tie is scheduled for tonight with a kick-off time of 7:45 PM, on the penultimate night of Match Day Seven and Eight Qualifying matches.

The main TV coverage in The UK will again be provided by ITV with the program starting at 7:15 PM. However, if you don’t have access to Television this evening you can catch Live Radio Commentary from West London on BBC Radio Five Live.

Where?

The visit of the Slovakian’s will take place at England’s 90,000 capacity new Wembley Stadium, and it is the second time that Jan Kozak’s men have visited the Venue, losing 4-0 in a 2009 friendly in their previous trip.

Originally opening in 1923, the West London site was renovated in the early noughties and was shut for around seven years.

This season, for the first time in its history, The Stadium will host Premier League fixtures as the home Ground of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur while White Hart Lane is being rebuilt.

Team News

Gareth Southgate is expected to give Three Lions debuts to new boys Harry Maguire and Nathaniel Chalobah, while Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson will keep the Captain’s armband after Friday’s trip to Malta.

There were no fresh injury concerns for the side after that game, but Spurs full-back Kieran Trippier and Everton keeper Jordan Pickford were forced to return to England with injury problems before the trip to Ta’ Qali.

Whereas, Slovenski Sokoli boasts some of Europe’s brightest talent in their Squad with the likes of Marek Hamsik and Robert Mak set to start under Jan Kozak.

There appears to be no talk of major injury within the Slovakia Camp, but skipper Martin Skrtel was seen bizarrely sporting a hairnet in training this week as protection for a recent head injury that he picked up at Fenerbahce.

England

The last 12 months have been choppy, to say the least from The Three Lions’ point of view, with the Allardyce Saga and a turbulent start to Southgate’s spell as manager.

But things have looked to have evened themselves out now, as England are on the verge of winning a sixth successive Qualifying Group.

Last time out, the Three Lions were 0-4 victors in Malta partly thanks to a late flurry of goals from Ryan Bertrand, Danny Welbeck, and Harry Kane after the Tottenham Hotspur man had given them the lead just after the break.

However, with a disappointing FIFA rank of 13th and a diabolical recent record at Major Tournaments, England fans are not holding their breaths for Russia 2018, should they Qualify tonight.

Slovakia

Separating from The Czech Republic in 1993, the Slovakian National Team have enjoyed a relatively successful existence, reaching two Major Tournaments and holding a FIFA Ranking of 22nd.

The side play their home fixtures at Stadion Antona Malatinskeho in Trnava, a Ground that recently went under a lavish reconstruction to raise its capacity to around 20,000 and equip it more appropriately for International Football.

The Slovaks are currently Managed by former Czechoslovakia Player of the Year Jan Kozak after he took over from the duo of Michal Hipp and Stanislav Griga in 2014.

In their last International outing, the outfit were narrow victors over a stern Slovenia side last Friday night but were beaten 1-3 by Uganda in one of the Footballing shocks of the year back in January.

Form

England and Slovakia have met a mere five times in Internationals, as The Three Lions have been victorious four times over a 14-year period, with the only draw coming at last year’s European Championship Group Stage.

The last time that the two sides met, Sam Allardyce contested his one and only game in charge of England with a late Adam Lallana goal separating the two sides in the fifth minute of added time in Trnava, 12 months ago.

Interestingly, a fair few Three Lions have reached career milestones against the Continental European Nation, these include Wayne Rooney’s 116th Cap and 50th appearances for Paul Scholes, Michael Owen, and John Terry.

Who Is Officiating?

Experienced FIFA Referee Clement Turpin will take charge in London, with Nicolas Danos and Cyril Gringore as his Assistants. Ruddy Buquet will complete the all French Officiating Team as Fourth Official for the encounter.

So, can England, with the help of defeats for Scotland and Slovenia, keep their fantastic Competitive Wembley record under Gareth Southgate going and complete the Road to Russia in their 110th World Cup Qualifier?

Or, will a robust Slovakia side shock the Footballing World with a surprise victory to go top of Group F and damage The Three Lions’ hopes of winning a sixth successive World Cup Qualifying Group? All will be revealed in a matter of hours’ time.