England will have to improve upon their tired, tepid performance against Ireland in Dublin last weekend if they’re to overhaul Slovenia in Ljubljana on Sunday. The hosts are unbeaten at home and still have an excellent chance of qualifying from Group E, particularly as they finish their campaign with matches against Lithuania and San Marino.
Yet Roy Hodgson’s charges go into the fixture as William Hill’s understandably firm 17/20 favourites. They’ve rattled in 15 goals in five qualifying matches, conceded just once (a Jordan Henderson own goal) and sit atop of the group with a maximum 15 points; despite enjoying home advantage, therefore, Slovenia open as Ladbrokes’s 7/2 underdogs, while Skybet chalk 5/2 about the draw – an attractive insurance price should the expected away victory fail to materialise.
England, 12/1 with Stan James to lift the European Championship trophy in France next year, came from behind to beat Slovenia 3-1 when the sides met at Wembley last November, Wayne Rooney leading the comeback with a typically well-taken penalty. The Manchester United man is 4/1 at BetVictor.com to open the scoring on Sunday, although Theo Walcott’s 11/2 price (Betway) in the same market is worthy of note.
Slovenia have lost all three of their competitive fixtures against England, but as they occupy second place in Group E, they’ll be mindful that a draw would represent a good day’s work. Winner.com offer even money against the first half ending on level terms (as it did at Wembley last autumn), while Paddy Power post 6/4 against the teams disappearing for their half time energy drinks with the score goalless.
Punters who suspect that Slovenia will prove difficult to break down can get 4/1 (Ladbrokes) against both halves finishing on level terms and although bet365 mark 8/1 against it being goalless at full time, there’s been a greater level of support for Stan James’s even money for both teams to find the net.
Elsewhere, Skybet’s 7/2 for England to replicate their Wembley performance and emerge victorious following a drawn opening half cannot be ignored, while William Hill’s 11/2 for England to win 1-0 has the distinction of being the correct score market’s most popular result.
England to beat Slovenia 1-0 – 11/2 (William Hill)