The last World Cup Qualifying match between San Marino and England went as expected, and the tiny country will try to do better this time against the Three Lions.
It took the English squad 35 minutes to find the back of the net in the October fixture, but that started a scoring onslaught and Roy Hodgson’s squad secured a 5-0 victory.
San Marino has a population of just over 30,000, putting it at a remarkable disadvantage in the UEFA qualifiers. This will likely be apparent in this match.
Here is everything you need to know about the fixture.
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino
When: Friday, March 22, 4 p.m. ET
Watch: ITV (U.K. only)
Live Stream: ESPN3
Key Matchup: England vs. Lack of Concentration
This game will come down the mindset of the English players. If they show up for this match, San Marino will be helpless to prevent another blowout.
The Three Lions’ roster is packed full of Premier League players who have been on the biggest stages the sports has to offer. The San Marino squad is made up entirely of unknown players.
Barring a choke of unimaginable proportions, England will record another victory during their qualification quest.
Those looking for upsets should turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament because this game will not produce a shocking result.
Biggest Storyline: England’s Injury-Plagued Back Line
With the Premier League on break and the English national team facing a thoroughly unenticing matchup, the British press had to find something to write about.
As the Daily Mirror’s Martin Lipton notes, Phil Jagielka was already unavailable for the contest, and Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson and Rio Ferdinand have all subsequently pulled out due to injury.
This leaves Hodgson with difficult decisions to make, and Lipton speculates he may slot central midfielder Michael Carrick into a centre-back spot to protect Joleon Lescott from another yellow card, which would result in a suspension.
With all the uncertainty at the heart of the team’s defense, it may appear that the Three Lions are vulnerable. But this is still not a big enough problem to produce an upset.
Prediction: England 4, San Marino 0
Even with English centre-backs dropping at an alarming rate, the team still has far more talent than it needs to rout San Marino once again.
This is one of the most lopsided matchups in this set of qualifiers, and there is no reason to suspect that England is headed towards a disappointing result. With attacking options like Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Jermain Defoe available, England will score early and often.
Expect an extremely uneven scoreline in this match, and do not count on San Marino appearing to be competitive at any point.