Andorra v England
Saturday 9 October, 19:45 kick-off
Live on ITV
Imperious England closing in on qualification
England could well qualify for the 2022 World Cup over the next week depending on results elsewhere, but let’s face it they’ll get there at some point and it’ll come via another three points against minnows Andorra.
With Hungary at home to come on Tuesday, Gareth Southgate’s selection will be interesting as the Three Lions make the trip to this tiny landlocked microstate sandwiched between France and Spain in the Pyrenees.
History will be made as an all-female team of referees will take charge of the game, with Ukrainian Kateryna Monzul being named as referee with two of her compatriots, Maryna Striletska and Svitlana Grushko, as assistants and Stephanie Frappart the VAR official.
On the pitch the refereeing team should be presiding over a routine victory with England winning five out of five against Andorra by a combined 20-0 aggregate score.
England have been masters of serenely qualifying over the last few tournaments and Saturday’s outing will just be another step on the road to Qatar.
Southgate’s selection questions
There’s no Harry Maguire who is injured while Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham have been omitted, but Ollie Watkins is back in and don’t be surprised if he gets a game against Andorra as Southgate is a big admirer of the Aston Villa man.
Tammy Abraham and Ben Chilwell received late call-ups and along with Fikayo Tomori all three could see action on Saturday.
Southgate has spoken of wanting Jack Grealish to grab his first international goal so expect him to earn his 16th cap and get a great chance to break his duck. Jesse Lingard is by no means a regular but has certainly been effective and scored twice against Andorra in the home fixture.
Starting Harry Kane or not is the big question – after his struggles domestically with Spurs this season it could be a nice confidence boost for him to start and bag a few goals.
Kane is about as automatic as you get for an international goalscorer as he’s bagged nine in 13 games this year for England.
Can Andorra keep the score down?
You can back Andorra to win at up to 170.0169/1 on the exchanges for what would be an earth shattering result, while even the almost impossibility of a draw is priced at 38.037/1.
England’s best price on the exchange of 1.031/33 is about as skinny as you can get for a two horse race.
Andorra are actually unbeaten in their last two home games with two clean sheets, winning 2-0 against San Marino and drawing 0-0 against Gibraltar and only lost 2-0 and 3-0 in their previous home games against England, getting to half time at 0-0 in both.
Even away from home, they only lost 2-1 in Hungary and were only 1-0 down at Wembley last month before three late goals in the last 20 minutes. It could be a similar story on Saturday but England will have so much of the ball it’s hard to see the hosts holding firm until the break this time around.
A five star display from the Three Lions
These game are always about just how England want to win, and if their players have enough enthusiasm to keep pushing if they’re 2-0 or 3-0 up, as another 80-odd percent possession like at Wembley will surely see them bag a few more goals.
England only got five of 19 shots on target in the last meeting, with the Andorran goalkeeper officially registering just one save, but the likes of Kane, Lingard and Mason Mount can step that up to bang in a few.
Then you’ve got Grealish eager for a goal, Watkins and Abraham eager to impress and plenty of competition for places in the wide forwards and midfield areas – in short there’s enough desire here to get England over 4.5 goals which, at 2.757/4, is a rare slice of value in an ultra one-sided betting heat.
Given the last Andorra game was only a month ago, Southgate could opt for players who played in that game to carry the load again, so we’re looking for a bit of value from players to have not just one, but two shots on target for a nice Bet Builder.
Lingard is a must after his recent performances and for an extra bit of value we’re throwing in Bukayo Saka, with the Arsenal man having some nice stats against the lesser international sides.
He tallied a goal, assist, three shots and another on target against Andorra last month – he scored against Austria in a friendly and had four shots with two on target against Iceland in his previous two full 90 minutes and can have a big impact again here.