Whenever England face San Marino, it’s hard not think back to that famous night in November 1993 when the minnows capitalised on an under-hit Stuart Pearce back-pass after just eight seconds to take a shock lead against a stunned Three Lions side led by Graham Taylor.
The man on the scoresheet for the hosts that day, Davide Gualtieri, still gets asked for his autograph over two decades later, even though England went on to win the World Cup qualifier 7-1 but what chance one of his compatriots joining Gualtieri in the history books as the two teams meet again in a Euro 2016 clash this weekend?
Well it’s highly unlikely according to bookmakers, bet365 pricing San Marino at 20/1 to open the scoring and also offering odds of 11/2 for them to breach the England rearguard at any stage in proceedings. It follows that Roy Hodgson’s charges are a slender 1/9 (bet365) to triumph ‘to nil’ at the Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle, where they’re just 1/50 with Stan James to come out on top and 100/1 via Ladbrokes to be the victims of what would arguably be the biggest sporting upset ever.
Of course, as punters know, simply backing an England win is a waste of time, indeed it’s more a case of how many they’ll score or the margin of victory and in William Hill’s handicaps the Three Lions are even money when starting five goals adrift of their opponents.
Starting three goals in arrears, Hodgson’s men are rated at 1/2 by Stan James and in the correct score betting, a 5-0 away triumph is the result bookmakers believe is the most probably, Skybet chalking it up at 6/1. That was the outcome when the teams met in the reverse fixture at Wembley back in October but when the Three Lions last visited San Marino they struck eight times without reply, a result that’s 11/1 courtesy of Paddy Power to be replicated in this one.
Alternatively, Stan James quote a 6-0 success at 13/2 but better value is the same firm’s identical quote about a 4-0 victory as the Sammarinese will keep plenty of men behind the ball in an attempt to frustrate England and keep the score down.
In the pair’s last meeting centre back Phil Jagielka broke the deadlock and he’s 18/1 (bet365) to do so again. As the breakthrough could well come from a set piece, Gary Cahill also stands out at the same price, Wayne Rooney is an understandably skinnier 23/10 via William Hill to notch first and bet365 rate Harry Kane at 11/4.
England to beat San Marino 4-0 – 13/2 (Stan James)