Match Preview: England vs Slovenia: 2018 World Cup Qualifying Group F Matchday Nine 5th October 2017
In the most decisive clash of the World Cup Qualifying campaign to date, Gareth Southgate’s England welcome Slovenia to Wembley, as The Three Lions sit just a win away from Russia 2018.
The hosts come into the clash off the back of another Wembley win at the expense of Slovakia last month, whereas, Srecko Katanec’s Slovenians were the 4-0 victors of Lithuania but have a slim hope of completing the Road to Russia.
The clash will take place tonight (Thursday 5 October 2017) with a kick-off time of 7:45 PM GMT on the first night of Matchdays Eight and Nine of Qualifying in Europe.
Main Television Coverage will be provided by ITV in The UK with the Program due to start at approximately 7:15 PM, if you don’t have access to a TV tonight, primary Radio Commentary can be found on both TalkSport and BBC Radio 5 Live.
The visit of the Slovenian’s will take place at England’s 90,000 capacity new Wembley Stadium, and tonight will be the third time that the former Yugoslavs have visited the Arena, losing on all previous occasions.
Originally opening in 1923, the West London site was rebuilt in the early noughties and shut for around seven years whilst the attendance was being increased.
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 similarly rebuilt.
Gareth Southgate named Harry Kane as the Captain for tonight’s clash and Sunday’s in Lithuania, as opposed to Jordan Henderson meaning that the in-form Spurs man will feature throughout, but teammate Dele Alli is suspended.
Phil Jones and Fabian Delph were forced to return to Manchester United and Manchester City respectively as injury casualties, with youngster Harry Winks being called up to the squad from The U21s in replacement.
Having named his squad for the Wembley trip, Srecko Katanec’s reported of no pull-outs of fresh injury concerns for his Slovenia Side.
The likes of World-renowned Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak, forward Josip Ilicic, and midfielder Ben Verbic could all prove to be pivotal if the visitors are going to pull off an unlikely shock.
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, in the aforementioned home victory over Slovakia, strikes from Eric Dier and Game changer Marcus Rashford were enough for a 2-1 victory, after Stanislav Lobotka, had given Jan Kozak’s men an early lead.
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.
Formed in 1992, after separation from Yugoslavia, the Slovenian National Team have enjoyed a steady rise to relative Football prominence in Europe ever since.
Despite this, it has been a mediocre but disappointing Qualifying campaign for Slovenia so far, as they sit third in Group F with an anorexic chance of reaching a second World Cup. But, were helped by goals from Ilicic, Verbic and Valter Birsa to thrash Lithuania 4-0 last month.
However, they have managed to reach a number of Major Tournaments in the modern era, these have included, the 2002 and 2010 World Cups and the 2000 European Championship.
With a current FIFA Ranking of 51st, this current period hasn’t been the most successful in their history but under current Manager and former Yugoslav International Srecko Katanec, they certainly do look to be on the up.
The National sides of England and Slovenia have met five times in International Football with the former unbeaten on every occasion.
The Three Lions have also been victorious four times since the first encounter in 2009, but have only ever kept one clean sheet, Joe Hart will be hoping to make it two as he becomes the third highest capped keeper should he start tonight.
The only ever draw between these two Sides, interestingly, came almost a year ago to the day, with a 0-0 stalemate at The Stadion Stozice, that Game was also the last encounter.
Surely the most notable meeting between the two Teams came at the 2010 South African World Cup, where a first-half strike from Jermain Defoe proved to be the difference.
Who Is Officiating?
The Game will be overseen by an all-German team of Officials, with Felix Zwayer as Referee, Thorsten Schiffner, and Marco Achmuller as his Assistants, and Christian Dingert as Fourth Official.
So, with all of the action from West London Previewed, can England make it a 15th successive World Cup Qualifier unbeaten with three points over Slovenia to take them to Russia and leave Wembley elated?
Or, can the Slovenians shock the Footballing World by wedging a foot in The Three Lions’ hopes of progression and boosting their own outside chances of making it to The World Cup? All will be revealed tonight in Group F.