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It’s coming home, it’s coming, FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME! The chant of summer 2018 is back, and this time it really could be true. Gareth Southgate has named his 26-man squad for the Euro’s and it is stacked with top-class players, so good that not even Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard and Peter Crouch could make it into the squad.
With less than two weeks to go until England kick-off their campaign against Croatia at Wembley, the squad travel north to Middlesbrough for the first of two warm-up games against Austria and Romania and our trader has picked out three of his best bets to get the international campaign off to a flyer.
Wednesday 20:00: England v Austria
This first game against Austria is likely to be used to give players who aren’t a shoo-in for starting spots at the Euros a chance to prove their worth. The European finals contingent of the Man United, Man City and Chelsea squad members will likely be afforded a rest for this game.
However, this England squad has quality throughout and should still have too much for Austria. Harry Maguire is likely to be missing as he’s still recovering from injury, so it’ll be a makeshift centre-back pairing of Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady.
Austria, however, will be without talisman Marko Arnautovic as he recovers from a thigh injury, and they struggled to create chances without him in defeat at home to Denmark at the end of March.
The Austrians failed to register a single shot on goal in a 4-0 hammering. England will have a wealth of attacking options, with Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho a likely attacking midfield behind Harry Kane.
The England captain is likely to start given that Southgate is forced into changes elsewhere on the pitch. The hopes of a nation lie on his shoulders and he will have to be at his very best if England are to win this European Championship.
The World Cup Golden Boot winner has a fantastic record at international level with 34 goals in 53 games for England. Against the Austrians he will likely be substituted to give some game time to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, which is why first goalscorer is more appealing to me than anytime goalscorer markets.
With Trent-Alexander Arnold included in the 26 man-squad, you can expect pin-point crosses to Kane and if the ball falls to his feet anywhere inside the 18-yard-box there is only really one outcome, you’re straight off to the winning bets section!
I know, I know, we’re gearing up for a European Championships and all we want to see is goals, goals and more goals. But lets not forget, these are the first warm-up games and international friendlies tend to be more tame affairs than we hope for.
With all the changes Southgate will be forced to make, I’m expecting it to be cagey. The one thing on every player’s mind will be to avoid any injuries.
This could well be a slow tempo affair and England will nick this one by the single goal or two, 1-0 or 2-0. Once in the lead, they’ll look to control the game, keeping possession, without necessarily being rushed to score more goals.
With Austria missing Arnautovic and fellow striker Karim Onisiwo a doubt, don’t expect the Austrians to provide too much of a threat at the other end. Under 2.5 goals is the value pick in the goal lines market.
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