Off the back of a less than convincing friendly against Isreal, we roll into Slovenia for our first World Cup qualifying game. Being a little unsure of our quality, and rating Slovenia as a half decent team I have decided to start cautious in order to weigh up the game in the first half.
There are a few changes to tactics in there to make the shape a little more attacking whilst retaining most of its robustness. For example, John Stones is playing as a Ball Playing Defender, but Eric Dier will be playing as an Anchor to allow the Full Backs to push wide and deep. Jordan Henderson will also be allowed a more adventurous role as a box-to-box midfielder following on from his impressive performance in the last fixture.
So let’s see how they get on in sunny Ljubljana.
Ahh… not the result I was hoping for. The cautious start backfired as Slovenia scored a scrappy goal from a corner following shaky defending from Phil Jones (who I started for unknown reasons, maybe from writing the starting eleven on a pack of fags). We quickly equalised from a wildly deflected free kick from Eric Dier. I then at half time switched things up to a more controlling strategy and dominated the game, creating three clear cut chances, and missed them all. Oh well, at least Scotland lost.
A draw in Slovenia is not the end of the world, I still am fully convinced we will top the group comfortably. Next up Malta and Scotland in a minnows double header (oh god I hope I don’t fuck it up now).
As I wait the thirty-three days till we play Malta I have to wonder, what non-sense would Glenn Hoddle be saying about me? Answers on a postcard, or in the comments, you do you.
Malta at Wembley, not too much thought going into this one. Just going to look to control the game, and hopefully get some of the squad firing before the main event – Scotland away.
The team has been slightly rotated for this one with appearances for Lallana, Sturridge, Rooney, Wilshere and Rose plus Dier dropping back to play alongside Stones.
The most surprising thing about this result is that John Stones scored two. Performance was exactly as you’d expect, Malta managed a shot which was nice for them. The whole back line picking up yellows is somewhat of a concern but could maybe be put down to a lack of concentration after scoring four in the first half. We are also now top of the group. Next up, Scotland, a match John Stones has managed to pick up a suspension for.
It’s somehow seventeen Celsius in Scotland, in October, my immersion has been broken. The team for the game will be again rotated with Kane, Alli , Sterling and Shaw coming in for Sturridge, Rooney, Lallana and Rose, with Stones missing out Cahill steps in at the back. We will approach the game looking to dominate from the off, let’s get into this.
Seeing the strength of Scotland, this approach and this line-up should be sufficient as there appears to be a significant gulf in quality. Scotland are expected to line up in a similar shape and so I hope to just overpower them with our technical quality. See you after the match.
As expected, we just had too much for Scotland. Jordan Henderson scored a curler from the edge of the box in the first half, followed by a scrappy Gary Cahill goal from a corner and a neatly worked goal by Daniel Sturridge following an excellent pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Worth noting, Scotland at home had as many shots as Malta did against us at Wembley. Malta also earned a draw away at Slovenia… the same outcome we achieved… maybe I overestimated Slovenia…
This win leaves us joint top with Slovakia who are emerging as our main rivals for top spot in the group. Slovenia and Scotland both have only three points, quickly turning this into a two horse race.
So two wins against two minnows leaves us firmly on course. Next two games are against Lithuania and a friendly against Northern Ireland. I’ll be taking Theo to the giant’s causeway, says he’s always wanted to go, will make him right happy.