Anything but an England trouncing will suffice as the Three Lions welcome San Marino to Wembley, but pragmatic Roy Hodgson and his words of caution points to the possibility of a low-scoring affair at the home of football.
An unthinkable under 2.5 goals being served up in the north west of London is on offer at a monstrous 13/1, but the reserved comments from the Croydon Commandant’s suggest there’s worse ways to spend a pound than on this bet.
He told Sky Sports:
“We’re not trying to play anything down, but I must also say we’re not trying to suggest this is going to be a goal feast. It might, but it might well not be.
“If the expectation is that we’re going to go out and score loads of goals and find it very, very easy, I think we all know that’s not true.”
While it would take something special for England not to score at least three goals past a team that would struggle to beat your Sunday League side, it appears Roy is pre-empting the backlash that the Three Lions endured after previous failures to decimate minnows in the past.
Here are just a few small fries to have helped reward those to have erred on the side of unders in the past:
Andorra 0-2 England – 06/09/2008
Just five places currently divides this skiers’ paradise from San Marino in the world rankings and the picture wasn’t drastically different eight years ago.
Still, England weren’t able to thump them in the first competitive match of Fabio Capello’s reign in what proved a portentous sign of the monotony to come.
England 2-0 Azerbaijan – 30/03/2005
The chaps from the Land of Fire were bested 8-0 by Poland at an earlier point of the World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign, but it took a full strength England side 51 minutes to breach their rearguard.
England 2-0 Liechtenstein – 10/09/2003
It took over one half for a strong England outfit to get on the scoreboard against Liechtenstein too, though this time on their Euro 2014 qualification quest.
The underwhelming nature of this result is epitomised by the fact that Slovakia and Macedonia both managed to outscore Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men when tackling this foe.