We’ve been here before, haven’t we? After thumping Montenegro in fine style on Friday night, England need just one win from their final Group H game at home to Poland on Tuesday to secure their place at next summer’s World Cup – and if you are getting a sense of déjà vu, then that is understandable.
You will probably be hearing an awful lot about Jan Tomaszewski over the next few days, the infamous Polish goalkeeper that 40 years ago denied Alf Ramsey’s side with a string of excellent saves in a 1-1 draw at Wembley that cost England a place at the 1974 World Cup (after Brian Clough had called him a clown, too).
But on Tuesday there should be no repeat. The Three Lions are as short as 1/4 to see off the Poles, and there is little to suggest that history is about to repeat itself, especially with England’s front six looking in such menacing form – Wayne Rooney’s strike in the 4-1 win was his eighth goal in his last nine international appearances.
England were excellent in the second half against Montenegro, and any sort of repeat will be enough to see off Poland, who come into the match unable to qualify after a 1-0 loss to Ukraine. That was Waldemar Fornalik’s side’s first loss in seven games, but their away form of late has been poor – the Poles’ only win on their last seven trips was against San Marino.
By contrast, the Three Lions are unbeaten at Wembley in eight matches under Hodgson, scoring three or more on four occasions and they should profit against a Polish defence that has kept just two clean sheets (against San Marino and Liechtenstein) in their last 12 fixtures.
Poland are 9/1 to cause a shock, with the draw at 9/2, but even if a team containing Borussia Dortmund stars Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Błaszczykowskicannot be underestimated, England should have no worries about booking their place in Brazil next summer.