It was expected to happen and it did – England ran out 5-0 winners over San Marino last night to start their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign off in style. They knew they were going to be the clear favourites and it was just a case of how many goals they’d end up sticking past the minnows, and in the end, it was five – although you could argue it could’ve and should’ve been a lot more at Wembley.
Southgate’s big dilemma
Gareth Southgate said before the game that he knows the starting XI who will play against Croatia at the Euros, which seems utterly bizarre given how much talent and depth he has at his disposal. In this game alone we had the likes of Ward-Prowse, Calvert-Lewin, Watkins, James and Foden all make a name for themselves in an attempt to impress the boss. It’s also an odd time to be an international manager, too, because while the focus should be on the Euros, these World Cup qualifiers are still pretty important.
The San Marino resistance
Elia Benedettini may have conceded five goals but you wouldn’t have thought it if you’d have seen some of his highlights on the night. Between a string of great instinct-based saves to a peach of a save to prevent Ben Chilwell from scoring a great goal, he really did impress a lot of fans. San Marino are known for being, statistically, the worst team in international football, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put up a bit of a fight in one of their biggest games in recent memory.
England = Euros favourites?
The World Cup is going to be huge for England but in just a few short months, the Three Lions will be attempting to win the European Championship. They’re currently priced as 5/1 favourites to win the whole thing which, in our opinion, still seems a little bit bizarre, even if they have a great squad on paper. They need to just take things one game at a time because if they start to let their egos get to their head, everything Southgate has been building could come crumbling down around them.
England: Pope (6.5), Chilwell (8), Coady (7), Stones (6.5), James (8), Mount (8.5), Phillips (8), Ward-Prowse (8.5), Sterling (8), Calvert-Lewin (8.5), Lingard (8), Bellingham (7.5), Foden (8), Watkins (8), Mings (6.5), Trippier (6.5)
San Marino: Benedettini (7.5), Battistini (5.5), Brolli (5), Rossi (5), Grandoni (5.5), Hirsch (6), Golinucci (5.5), Lunadei (5.5), Palazzi (6), Berardi (6), Nanni (6), D’Addario (6), Ceccaroli (6), Mularoni (6), Giardi (6), Battistini (6)
Referee: Kirill Levnikov
Goals: Ward-Prowse, Calvert-Lewin x2, Sterling, Watkins
Yellow Cards: Mings
Red Cards: N/A