STAR PREVIEW: Kosovo v England

England have already made it to Euro 2020 in style but there’s plenty of reason for them to keep up their efforts against Kosovo tonight and end their qualification in style.

England have overpowered a weak section at their will and they celebrated 1,000 games in the best possible fashion with a 7-0 destruction of Montenegro at Wembley in midweek that showcased their attacking Arsenal. Harry Kane became the first Englishman to score a hat-trick in consecutive games at Wembley as he moved to sixth in England’s list of leading scorers, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring on his first start for 18 months and Marcus Rashford also scored before half time, and Tammy Abraham grabbed the closing goal for himself too.

There was a low moment for Gareth Southgate when Joe Gomez was booed after his clash with Raheem Sterling before the game, but overall it was an even more dominant performance for England than the market expected.

Going to Kosovo will be harder. They are guaranteed to finish third and will be in the playoffs next year after a strong campaign, and they are unbeaten on home turf during this campaign with a 2-1 win against the Czech Republic and a 2-0 win against Montenegro; Indeed, England are the only side they’ve failed to beat in the Group, with the other loss coming at the Czech Republic – a trip England will know plenty about (indeed, the Kosovans also led there, and were ahead until the 71st minute).

Kosovo also gave England plenty of trouble in the reverse fixture when they opened the scoring after just 34 seconds and then struck twice within six second-half minutes to make life rather nervous for the Three Lions back in September. Winners of their UEFA Nations League group.

Kosovo v England
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier, Group A
17:00 ITV 1 HD

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD*
(Maximum 10 matches)
SEP 2019 EURO 2020 QUALIFYING England 5-3 Kosovo

It seems like we can expect plenty of goals here if both sides focus their full attention on this game and there’s every reason to expect Kosovo to go for a positive result in front of their home crowd whilst plenty of England players will want to make a positive impression for Gareth Southgate.

Even taking into account the weakness of the group, England’s scoring rate has been phenomenal. They have averaged 4.67 goals a game in qualifying, and in six of their seven qualifiers – the only exception being a 2-1 defeat in the Czech Republic – they’ve scored four goals or more.

They have a wonderful range of attacking talents but if they are to win Euro 2020 then they will need to tighten up and find a proper defensive solution before the tournament starts.

Kosovo have scored in 14 straight games and what’s more, they’ve struck twice in seven of their last nine games to boot. They’ll be looking to attack an England defence that has proven all too vulnerable through this campaign – especially on the road, where they’ve conceded in two of their three away fixtures, so it seems like the hosts have the capability to make that three in what could be another thriller.

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