England To Chisel Out Win In Moldova
Moldova v England
Friday 19:45 - live on ITV 1
The Road to Rio for Roy's England begins on Friday evening with a trip to Eastern Europe. Moldova's capital Chisinau will host the Three Lions 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign opening match with England manager Roy Hodgson looking to get off to a solid, winning start.
If he can repeat the scoreline from England's last trip to this former Soviet state, then I'm sure Hodgson will be more than happy. In what was Glenn Hoddle's first game as national team manager, his troops, captained by a rejuvenated Alan Shearer, came away with a 3-0 victory (7/1 correct score here). That match is also famously remembered as the game in which David Beckham made his England debut, before going on to win 115 caps for his country.
England's aeroplane making its way to Moldova over the skies of Europe will only contain three strikers, a problem that could see the team heavily relying on goals from midfield. Jermaine Defoe should start upfront after grabbing the winning goal in England's friendly win over Italy recently and starting the new season in impressive form for Tottenham. His record of 16 goals in 49 appearances for his county far eclipse that of his younger team mates Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge who have two goals and no goals respectively for England.
Jermaine Defoe - First goal 3/1 Anytime goal 8/11 Hat-trick 16/1
Danny Welbeck - First goal 3/1 Anytime goal 8/11 Hat-trick 16/1
Daniel Sturridge - First goal 4/1 Anytime goal EVS Hat-trick 25/1
From midfield, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard may no longer have the burst of pace to see them make lung busting runs from midfield, but both players are experts at making late runs and grabbing vital goals. If Euro 2012 is anything to go by then Roy Hodgson will be employing a solid formation that makes England difficult to beat and therefore a more attacking role for Gerrard could be on the cards just off a main striker. Stevie G is 6/4 to score anytime while Lamps can be backed at 5/4 to find the back of the net during the match.
Unsurprisingly, England are the overwhelming favourites for this tie, installed at 1/4 to triumph in Chisinau. The draw is priced at 18/5 while you can get 9/1 on an unlikely Moldova victory.
The men from Moldova are ranked a lowly 137th in Fifa's official rankings (England are third) and have never qualified for a World Cup finals. This is not a major surprise given the fact that they only emerged as a footballing nation in 1991 following the break-up of the USSR. Most recently, they ended their 2010 qualifying campaign without registering a single win, finishing bottom of Group 2 with just three draws to their name.
Leading the line for the hosts could be Serghei Alexeev, centre-forward for Russian second division club Yenisey Krasnoyarsk. His record of four goals in 16 international matches may not be outstanding, but for a country as lowly ranked as Moldova, it isn't too bad. Alexeev is 12/1 to break the deadlock in Chisinau and 5/1 to score anytime.
England's line-up at the Zimbru Stadium should see Leighton Baines deputise for the injured Ashley Cole with John terry, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Gary Cahill fighting it out for the two centre-back positions.
Captain Steven Gerrard, Danny Welbeck, Glen Johnson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley were restricted to gym work after playing for their clubs on Sunday.
With a second qualification game against Ukraine coming just four days later, Hodgson must shuffle his pack accordingly.
The William Hill Headline offer for this game is for the Three Lions to win by three goals or more at a price of 3/1. Enhanced from 11/5, England will hope to lay down a marker of their intent for the rest of qualification with a convincing win here.