Author: Andrew Younger
Published: 12:26 08/10/2014
England got their Euro 2016 Qualifying campaign off to a flyer in Switzerland in September with a convincing 2-0 win.
The game in Basel was, on paper at least, the toughest game England have to face in their qualifying group. Victory has lead many to believe that qualification is already all but secured for Roy Hodgson’s side as they look forward to ties a against the likes of San Marino and Estonia.
To signify the importance of England’s victory over Switzerland last month, Sky Bet’s odds of England remaining unbeaten throughout their qualifying campaign shortened dramatically from 11/8 to 8/13 after the match.
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It is easy to forget that the game in Basel was only the first of ten qualifying matches England must play. Regardless of opposition, to go undefeated in nine games at international level is a tough ask and England have some tricky games to play before they can start thinking of finishing the campaign unbeaten.
There is of course the return fixture against Switzerland, which doesn’t take place until September 2015. The Swiss side have a lot of talented youngsters, lead by 22-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who will benefit from another year in the professional game and arrive at Wembley arguably a more talented unit than the one England played in Basel.
Slovenia will most likely provide the next toughest test for Hodgson’s side. England narrowly qualified out of the group stage at the 2010 World Cup at Slovenia expense. Their 1-0 win over Slovenia courtesy of a Jermaine Defoe goal secured qualification for England but this goes to show that England, more than any other team, should know that they can’t treat the Slovenian’s like pushovers.
Aside from this, you’d assume that the biggest threat to England’s challenge of finishing the group stage unbeaten is their own complacency. Given what they have at their disposal, England should comfortably collect six points from their fixtures against the likes of San Marino and Lithuania.
Can Roy’s boys become known as Euro 2016 Qualifying invincibles? Only time will tell.
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