Although it’s been less than two months since Portugal lifted the European Championship trophy following their 1-0 extra time win over France in Paris but this Sunday sees the European nations begin their campaigns to secure their places at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The biggest game of the day happens at the Štadión Antona Malatinského as Slovakia and England, who drew 0-0 in the final Group B game at the Euros in Saint-Étienne, meet in new England manager Sam Allardyce’s first match in charge of the national side.
We preview this Slovakia v England clash from Group F of the UEFA World Cup qualifiers with online sportsbook Pinnacle.com to provide our best bets from the game.
Match Odds at Pinnacle.com:
Slovakia to win – 4.27
Draw – 3.43
England to win – 2.00
Form Guide and Team News:
This match will be just the second time that Slovakia have played since the 0-0 draw with England at the Euros on June 20th, with the only other game in between being the 3-0 defeat at the hands of Germany in the first knockout stage in France. They will be wary of England in this match as the visitors will be boosted by new management, but even so Slovakia still have enough players to hurt the English side and perhaps cause an upset.
Although he did not show it against England in the 0-0 draw Marek Hamsik is a world class player and was one of Slovakia’s top players in France, and he’ll be desperate to put on a better showing this time around. Former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel and midfielder Juraj Kucka both have more than enough experience and ability to handle anything that the English can throw at them. They will also be confident after preventing this side from finding the net against them two and a half months ago, but can they do it again?
England exited Euro 2016 at the hands of the minnows Iceland and that 2-1 loss saw the exit of Roy Hodgson as manager of the side and with Big Sam having already announced his starting XI for this match three players have suffered the same fate as the former national side boss. Chris Smalling, Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli all do not reprise their roles for this first match of Allardyce’s England career to be replaced by John Stones, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana in a 4-5-1 formation that will see Wayne Rooney play as an attacking midfielder behind Harry Kane.
It is a new start for England and with the last eight England managers winning their first match in charge of the national side he will be hoping to continue this record. Or will he? The only manager not to win his first match in charge of the side was Sir Alf Ramsey in 1963 and he went on to lift the World Cup three years later. Which omen will Big Sam get in his Big Test in Slovakia?
Head to Head:
These sides have met on four occasions since 2002 and it is England who have done the better of the two sides. They triumphed 2-1 home and away in European Championship qualifiers in 2002 and the following year before securing a heavy 4-0 win in a friendly match at Wembley in 2009. The final clash came ten weeks ago when both sides were happy to take a point and move into the knockout stage of the Euros, but both will be desperate to secure victory in this opening Group F clash.
With the England players looking to impress their new boss and Big Sam having kept some of the top performers from the Euros in the team for this match, especially the rampaging full backs for Kyle Walker and Danny Rose from Tottenham, we feel that the away side in Trnava this Sunday will be the side to edge out a closely fought match between sides that know how to defend well. To make it all the better England are a good value price with Pinnacle too and we are selecting the away win as our pick of the match.
Our best bet on this Slovakia v England clash is back England to win @ 2.00 in the Pinnacle Sportsbook!