You don’t need to look far back in history to find an example of England falling at the final hurdle in their bid to qualify for a major tournament.
The events of Wednesday, 21st November 2007 will be familiar to all England fans, and Steve McClaren’s resignation as manager of Nottingham Forest on Sunday served as a timely reminder that England do not have a divine right to appear at Euro 2012 this summer.
Four years ago, England needed just a draw to secure a place at Euro 2008, while a 2-0 victory over final opponents Croatia would have secured top spot.
However, a disastrous performance, capped by Scott Carson’s inept display in goal and a touchline cameo from an umbrella-adorned McClaren, ended in a 3-2 defeat and England’s players had a summer off.
This time around, England again need a draw to book their passage to the Euros, with Montenegro their opponents.
While Three Lions supporters would be forgiven for feeling pessimistic about their team’s chances given recent events, the fact the game is being played in Podgorica rather than at Wembley means their team should not only secure the point they need to make it to Poland and Ukraine but go on to win the game with something to spare.
Although England’s form in the national stadium has been patchy to say the least, with just one win from their last five matches, it has been a different story on their travels.
Fabio Capello’s men have won four away games on the bounce, which justifies their position as odds-on 3/5 favourites to win the match in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
Crucially, three of these four wins have come courtesy of a two-goal cushion, and with Montenegro scoring just five goals in their six qualification matches England should be able to outgun their opponents on Friday in similar fashion.
This makes a bet on England to win by two clear goals appealing at odds of 14/5.
A successful £25 free bet on the game to be won by exactly two goals would return £95.
Given Montenegro’s poor goalscoring record, their battle plan is likely to centre around keeping things tight and edging a 1-0 victory at odds of 23/2.
However, these odds – or those of 19/4 for the win for that matter – are unlikely to appeal given Montenegro have lost their last two matches 2-1 and 3-2 to Wales and Albania respectively.
Indeed, even a draw at 27/10 looks far-fetched given this run of form.
As such, even the most pessimistic England fan should approach the game in relaxed fashion confident that the McClaren disaster will not be repeated.
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