Friday night didn’t go quite according to plan for Gareth Southgate and England.
Going into the Czech Republic game, they hadn’t lost a major tournament qualifier for 10 years (a run of 43 games unbeaten) and following the 5-0 demolition of the same opposition back in March, it was expected that England would take all three points.
However, the issues that have been plaguing England for over a year now once again reared their head in Prague.
When England are placed under any sort of pressure, they seem to crumble, think the defeat to Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals last year, or the loss to the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League semi-final, even last month in the 5-3 win over Kosovo. When a side starts to get on top of England, they don’t seem to be able to soak up pressure well, or respond.
This was also another poor night for England’s defence. Michael Keane, while an ok choice for Everton, looks way out of his depth wearing the Three Lions. He is partnered by Harry Maguire, who hasn’t had a decent game for England since before the Nations League.
In Bulgaria it might be time to drop Keane and give a game to one of Joe Gomez, Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings or Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori. It also begs the question as to why Kyle Walker can’t get into the squad when Danny Rose and Kieran Tripper both had terrible nights.
In midfield, the criticism of England has been that there is no creativity and that players go missing in games. Jordan Henderson seemed to forget how to pass a ball six yards, Declan Rice was overrun, and Mason Mount languished without the ball playing at number 10.
How Southgate will rue the fact James Maddison pulled out of the squad due to illness (although he was pictured in a casino as England were losing to the Czechs)
Southgate will no doubt make some changes for the game in Sofia, with a win all-but confirming England will be in next year's European Championships.
Danny Rose is suspended, and Kieran Trippier's form against the Czech Republic should see Ben Chilwell and Trent Alexander-Arnold come in at full-back. With Declan Rice ill, Harry Winks will also get his chance.
With all of the above in mind, GIVEMEBET presents three things to consider for the Bulgaria/England game.
- Bulgaria to win is 12/1 with GIVEMEBET. England are coming off the back of a real disappointing result for the first time in a long time. This group of players, while of high quality, don’t know what it’s like to have to bounce back straight away from disappointment. Could they still be shell shocked when they walk out on the pitch in Sofia? Bulgaria will certainly fancy their chances, and could end up causing a shock.
- Over 4.5 goals is 7/2 with GIVEMEBET. One area that England aren’t light in is attack. Even if they rest Jadon Sancho, they have Marcus Rashford to come in, and in Harry Kane they have one of the most dangerous strikers in world football. The last time these two sides met, England won 4-0 and there will definitely be goals in this game.
- England to win from behind is 6/1 with GIVEMEBET. England conceded the first goal against Kosovo back in September, and given their defensive issues at the moment, they could be ripe to concede first. But given the attacking quality they possess, England could easily come from behind to record a dominate win.
*Odds correct at time of publishing. 18+ BeGambleAware.orgNews Now - Sport News