England head to Malta for a kickabout in the Mediterranean

Last updated: August 31, 2017 by Leon Marshal

Game details

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Kick-off: Friday, 20:45 pm
Venue: Ta’ Qali National Stadium
Coverage: ITV 1
Home Team Form: LLLLL
Away Team Form: DWWDW
Last Meeting: England 2 – 0 Malta
Competition: World Cup Qualifiers

The small island of Malta is known for its generous climate, sandy beaches, world-renowned healthcare system, strong Catholicism, and being the offshore base for many online betting sites. What Malta is not known for its football team. Since their first international match in 1957 against Austria (they lost 3-2) they have yet to qualify for either the European Cup or the World Cup. This time around they have already kicked the bucket – with zero points in six games, they are currently the only team eliminated in the group. So, for Malta, they have nothing to lose and may as well play all out against their former colonisers to retain some degree of dignity.

In all honesty, their only hope for victory or a draw is the weather. With temperatures predicted to be around 25 degrees even at the late kick off of 20:45 (EST), perhaps many of the English players will be more sluggish than usual, allowing Malta to press high and pinch a goal. Their best player – Michael Mifsud, who has scored 40 goals in 124 games – may find himself in space with the opportunity to score. The English players may also get dodgy food poisoning, but then again austerity doesn’t affect football, which means that the pampered boys only eat the best. All things considered, there is more chance of snow falling on the pitch than the Maltesers being able to sneak a victory against a competent enough England side.

England are cruising to qualification at the moment. Facing off against teams such as Slovakia, Slovenia, Scotland and Lithuania, they have won 4 and drawn 2 of their previous six games. The three points in the bag versus Malta should be enough to qualm any doubts regarding qualification. This should actually be a chance to try out some youngsters in the squad, especially now that Rooney won’t be included for the first time in fourteen and a half years. Players such as the uncapped Nathanial Chalobah and the impressive Michael Keane should play to see if they have what it takes for more competitive matches. Now is also the time for leaders. With Rooney leaving the squad, Defoe and Hart are the only players left from the 2010 team that reached the last 16 of the World Cup. The old guard is nearly over. As a result, this is the time for impressive players like Henderson, Rashford and Walker to see if they have what it takes to be the next English greats. A game like this will demonstrate if they can actually dictate the play and give good reason for confidence ahead of the more challenging Slovakia match on Monday. This will be easy, but anything less than a thrashing will be a displeasing result.

Team News

Chalobah, who left Chelsea over the summer to play for Watford, has said the move has been justified by his first call-up to the England squad.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has recently claimed that Southgate’s experience with youth teams will help them to qualify for the World Cup. As he says: “Even with a senior team, there’s still a lot of developing that people can do, to keep learning and improving is something everyone can do and he’s brought that mentality with him.”.

One player will definitely not be playing on Friday. Jordan Pickford, who was looking likely to pick up his first cap, is currently suffering from a thigh injury.

Daniel Sturridge is looking to be picked for this game, insisting that despite his injuries he is now back to full fitness.

Expected Line-Ups:

England (4-2-3-1): Butland; Walker, Stones, Cahill, Betrand; Henderson, Chalobah; Sterling, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alli; Rashford
Subs: Hart, Dier, Cresswell, Smalling, Lingard, Heaton, Sturridge, Kane, Defoe
Injured: Pickford, Barkley, Rose, Lallana, Clyne, Shaw, Young, Carroll, Drinkwater
Not available:
Malta (5-4-1): Hogg; Bajada, Magri, Agius, Muscat, Zerafa; Mifsud, Sciberras, Muscat, Gambin; Schembri
Subs: Kirstensen, Faruggia, Scicluna, Pisani, Camenzuli, Effiong, Borg, Haber, Failla
Not available:

So Far This Campaign

. . .
England So Far This Campaign Malta So Far This Campaign
1st League Position 6th
3 (1) Wins (away) 0 (0)
3-0 vs. Scotland Biggest Win
0 (2) Draws (away) 0 (0)
Biggest Defeat 1 – 5 vs Scotland
Adam Lallana (2) Top Goal Scorer Effiong, Farrugia (1)
Y11, R0 Discipline Y18, R3
1 Failures to Score 4
5 Clean Sheets 0
1 Both Teams to Score Games 2
2 Over 2.5 Goals 2
4 Under 2.5 Goals 4

  • Harry Kane loves to score with his head and he’ll be eager to score after his three consecutive blanks in the Premier League.
  • Mifsud is Malta’s best player, though his chances on goal will surely be restricted against an England side with the best defensive record in the group.
  • Rashford scored last weekend for Manchester United and will be looking to get on the scoresheet again.
  • England put two past Malta in the first leg and Malta conceded five in the last match againt Scotland. It’s safe to say a clean sheet here is unlikely.

Head to Head

Last Four Competitive Meetings Between The Sides
Date Game Result Round First Goal-scorer
08/10/2016 England 2 – 0 Malta Fifa World Cup Qualifiers Sturridge 29′
03/06/2000 Malta 1 – 2 England International Friendly Keown 23′
12/05/1971 England 5 – 0 Malta European Championship Qualifiers Chivers 30′
03/02/1971 Malta 0 – 1 England European Championship Qualifiers Peters 34′

Conclusion & Betting Tips

England are the favourites, with odds of 1/20 at William Hill. Those odds are so low you should only place this bet if you are absolutely loaded. A more reasonable punt would be some combination of England to win and a certain player to score. For example, Sterling is currently tipped to score and England to win at 6/5, while Harry Kane is backed for the same outcome at a ridiculous 7/1. A smart bet would be England to win at four goals or more at 17/20 or if you fancy a double, a 3-0 England and Marcus Rashford to score anytime double at 9/1.

Despite me obviously backing England to win, lets just run the other side for fun. For example, if you have a spare quid lying around you don’t mind losing, why not look at the odds for Malta? They are at a whopping 40/1 to win. Not only that, you can get enhanced odds of Malta to win and Mifsud to score at a mesmerising 100/1. With one goal around every three games for the international side, backing Mifsud in some situation isn’t a bad idea!!