San Marino vs. England U-21 European Championship: Full Preview for Clash
Gareth Southgate's England U-21's will continue their qualification campaign for next year's U-21 European Championship with a trip to San Marino on Friday, October 11. Kick-off will take place at 19:30 BST (2:30 p.m. EST) in the Olympic Stadium, San Marino.
The visitors will arrive as major favourites to win big in the microstate, with a number of their key players currently in good form in the English Premier League and Championship.
West Ham United's Ravel Morrison, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino are all likely to start, having been named in Southgate's strong 24-man squad. Blackpool's Tom Ince and Burnley's Danny Ings are notable inclusions from the second tier.
The full squad can be viewed over on the official website of the England U-21 team.
Meanwhile, San Marino currently sit in last place in Group 1, with their 1-0 home win against Wales not enough to lift them off the bottom.
The win will have given a boost to the squad's confidence and morale ahead of this game, and England will have to stay tight and keep things professional in order to temper their hosts' enthusiasm early on.
|Coach||Massimo Agostini||Coach||Gareth Southgate|
|GK||Elia Benedettini||GK||Jack Butland|
|LB||Mirco Ciambotta||LB||Luke Shaw|
|CB||Manuel Battistini||CB||Nathaniel Chalaboah (c)|
|CB||Davide Cesarini||CB||Michael Keane|
|RB||Gian Luca Proli||RB||Carl Jenkinson|
|LW||Maximiliano Baizan||LW||Thomas Ince|
|MC||Juri Biordi||MC||Thomas Carroll|
|MC||Eugenio Colombini (c)||MC||Ravel Morrison|
|RW||Edoardo Tosi||RW||Wilfried Zaha|
|FW||Marco Bernardi||FW||Raheem Sterling|
|FW||Alessandro Golinucci||FW||Saido Berahino|
While England will also be able to call upon the likes of Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha, Michael Keane and Jesse Lingard, Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal and Southampton's James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw, San Marino's team is made up of youngsters from some rather less glamorous clubs.
Instead, teams in the Sammarinese amateur top-flight, such as A.C. Juvenes/Dogana and S.P. Tre Fiori, are the source of many of the team's players.
As evidenced by their result against Wales, though, they're not a team to be taken lightly, regardless of past reputations.
England must also improve and can't take victory here for granted. In their last game at Finland, Southgate's side could only manage a 1-1 draw after Berahino saved the day in Helsinki with a 67th minute equaliser. Unfortunately, Andre Wisdom saw red soon after, derailing the team's pursuit of a winner.
As such, Finland currently tops the group with eight points compared to England's four, who at present linger in third, although they do have two games in hand.
Victory in San Marino could move England up to second, and instantly vaporise the majority of Finland's lead, offering up an opportunity to grab control of Group 1 and their own destinies.
Prediction: San Marino 0 - 4 England
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