Montenegro vs. England: Complete Preview for World Cup Qualifier

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Montenegro vs. England: Complete Preview for World Cup Qualifier
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Match Info

Who: Montenegro vs. England, UEFA Group H

When: Tuesday, March 26, kickoff 3:00 p.m. ET

Where: Podgorica City Stadium, Podgorica, Montenegro

Referee: Jonas Eriksson

 

Form and Standings

Team

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

 Montenegro

5

4

1

0

13

2

+11

13

 England

5

3

2

0

20

2

+18

11

 Ukraine

4

1

2

1

4

3

+1

5

 Poland

4

1

2

1

6

6

0

5

 Moldova

5

1

1

3

2

8

−6

4

 San Marino

5

0

0

5

0

24

−24

0

Statistics courtesy of FIFA.com

 

With both still in the running to come out on top of Group H in the race to Rio, Tuesday’s meeting between Montenegro and England could very well determine just how easily either side will come about a place in the 2013 World Cup.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Vucinic

Having won three and drawn two of their five qualifying fixtures so far, Roy Hodgson’s Lions travel to the Montenegrin capital in high hopes of maintaining the clinical form that earned them an 8-0 win over San Marino this weekend.

Branko Brnovic’s side had a slightly more difficult matchup in Moldova, but a late Mirko Vucinic finish gave the visitors a 1-0 in Serravalle, San Marino, maintaining the Brave Falcons’ push for early World Cup qualification.

With a superior goal difference already under their belt, victory in Podgorica would put England back on top of the Group H pile, while a home triumph would see Montenegro extend their lead at the top to five points.

 

Team News

Having rested some of his more regular starters in a bid to keep faces fresh, Roy Hodgson’s selection is as healthy as ever heading to the Montenegrin capital and could see the return of some of those left out for the San Marino fixture.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Walcott: Set to miss out

Some of those set to make their return could be Steven Gerrard, Danny Welbeck and Glen Johnson, all of whom didn’t feature over the weekend.

One definite omission for the Three Lions will be Theo Walcott, whom BBC Sport have reported could be out for up to 10 days after suffering a pelvic strain last Friday, prior to the San Marino clash.

Gary Cahill was also racing for fitness in time for Tuesday, but Chelsea’s official website announced the centre-back would be playing no part in Podgorica.

For Montenegro, Milorad Pekovic is the only notable absence after seeing red for a second caution early in the second half against Moldova.

 

Key Players

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney will have no fond memories of his last away trip to Montenegro, a fixture that put his Euro 2012 campaign in great jeopardy, 18 months after he was sent off in Podgorica.

Rooney red card, November 2011

This time around, the Manchester United forward will be hopeful of having a more positive impact in front of the hostile Montenegrin support.

Against San Marino, Rooney was deployed in a strike partnership alongside Jermain Defoe but proceeded to go about his usual free role, dropping into a more provisional position where needed.

Like England, Brnovic’s side have conceded just two goals in qualifying so far, placing a great responsibility on Rooney—one of England’s most senior attacking threats—to provide the keys to unlocking that back line this Tuesday.

Hodgson’s men will undoubtedly have a tougher time breaking down this week’s hosts than they did in Serravalle last Friday, placing the burden on Rooney’s shoulders not just to lead from the front, but provide for those around him also.

 

Stevan Jovetic

One of Montenegro’s two Serie A-based strikers, Stevan Jovetic isn’t firing on all cylinders for Fiorentina of late but has been a constant source of goal threat for his national team, providing two assists in his last three World Cup qualifiers.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

With 12 goals for his club this season, the 23-year-old will look to translate some of his finer scoring form to the international stage in Podgorica.

England’s centre-back conundrum will only benefit the Montenegrin attackers, and although the Three Lions managed to withstand a San Marino threat over the weekend, this week’s hosts are probable to cause a bit more danger.

With Rio Ferdinand and John Terry now out of the England frame (albeit perhaps temporarily for the former), Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott and others will have their work cut out for them against a player who poses a very real challenge on goal himself but will be equally as eager to help partner Mirko Vucinic extend his scoring run.

 

Predicted Lineups

Montenegro (4-3-3)

Mladen Bozovic; Savo Pavicevic, Stefan Savic, Marko Basa, Vladimir Volkov; Elsad Zverotic, Simon Vukcevic, Mitar Novakovic; Filip Kasalica, Stevan Jovetic, Mirko Vucinic

 

England (4-4-1-1)

Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; Michael Carrick, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young, James Milner; Wayne Rooney; Danny Welbeck

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