As mentioned last time we have Scotland and Malta coming up before the crucial double header of Lithuania and Slovakia. Today, we will just be covering the minnow matchups, but first, important news about my upcoming holiday.
Good news! We are going to Morocco in 2022 (hopefully, might fuck it up). Morocco has pretty awesome food, so that’s nice. Plus fewer slaves and that, although I’m no Morocco expert so can’t say for sure. Chamakh is from there, so I know that too, that and food – I know enough to get by on the mean streets of Casablanca.
Also, club protests? I imagine it looked a little something like this in the Bayern camp:
Onto business, the squad call-up is pretty much the same as the last few times. Only exceptions are Smalling and Sturridge who are injured, in their place Keane and Welbeck.
Side note – the U21 side lost in the finals of their tournament to France, so let’s not speak of them.
The team for the game against Malta will look like this:
A few players are a yellow away from suspension so have not been risked from the off. Although Dier and Walker start and are both at risk of suspension. Malta shouldn’t pose too much of a threat, but if they do, we have some great options from the bench. Malta looks to be lining up with five at the back, so switching to two up top might be a great option if we struggle to break through.
We never really had to get out of first gear in this game. Early goals from Sterling and Rashford made this game a cake walk. The only downside to an otherwise straight forward away victory was Harry Kane’s injury, the severity of which means he will be out for five weeks (also, hopefully denting Spurs’ league title defence). Sterling earnt himself the man of the match, Vardy also came on for Kane to excellent effect grabbing a goal and an assist.
Okay, so onto Scotland at Wembley with no Harry Kane with Callum Wilson his replacement. The starting eleven will be much the same as the previous game, only exceptions will be Clyne for Walker, Wilshere for Ward-Prowse, Henderson for Keane with Dier shuffling to centre-back, and of course Vardy for Kane.
Before the game, I received a match report which pretty much read: We need to watch Leigh Griffiths as he scored in their last game against Lithuania. Great work scouting team… great work.
With that tactical nugget firmly lodged in my mind up with all the other important football stuff (if in doubt, kick it out; put the fast kid up front and lump it; and of course, don’t fanny about with it at the back) we head into the game.
A reasonably comfortable win moves us three points clear of Slovakia who managed a goalless draw with Lithuania. In this game, Scotland had me briefly (very briefly) worried, when they equalised in the 52nd minute. This followed a first half where we dominated but only took one chance. The man who scored was, of course, Leigh Griffiths, who my centre-backs lost track off allowing him in behind, a mistake from Hart then allowed him an empty net. Our goals came from a variety of sources. A well worked first goal between Rashford and Sterling opened the scoring, following the equaliser Dier powered home, Wilshere scored a fantastic free-kick and Oxlade-Chamberlain powered home a back post header. John Stones also took a penalty won by Welbeck, surprisingly Stones has 15 penalty taking… but he still missed kicking straight down the middle, where the keeper remained rooted. Overall good performance, shame about their goal, but we move on.
Stardust Gordon played again today, looked into his profile, plays for Jagiellonia in the Polish first flight. I have more respect for him now, a much higher level than the SPL, and playing abroad like Oliver Burke and Ryan Gauld… something I wish more English players would take the chance to do (although, hasn’t really worked out for any but Burke and he isn’t in the Scottish national team in game for some reason…).
Next time, we have the crucial double header plus a friendly against Cyprus. After that, we will hopefully be preparing for our first shot at the big one. Till next time.