Football Tips: 4 key stats to consider for your England v North Macedonia Bet Builder

Our tipster Andrew Beasley gives you a steer or four for this one-sided Euro qualifier.


England began their post-season double header with a comfortable victory against Malta on Friday, just as everyone expected they would. After all, they’d won every previous meeting with the Maltese so why they wouldn’t triumph again? Seems obvious, no?

Indeed it does, but now Gareth Southgate’s side must tackle North Macedonia, and guess what? England have faced them twice at home in the past (in the days before ‘North’ was part of their name) and both games ended all-square. Can we therefore expect another stalemate? Paddy doesn’t think so and he’s probably right. Here are some important things to consider before playing your bet though.

It’s summer time

The 2022/23 season must have been one of the most taxing ever, what with it having a World Cup wedged in the middle of it. The physical and mental demands placed on the players have been ridiculous.

Look up the numbers if you don’t believe me. Marcus Rashford has played 62 games this season while Harry Kane has clocked up over 5,000 minutes for club and country. Asking them to go again for qualifiers which are largely pointless is a tall order.

This sort of thing helps explain England’s modest record in the month of June. Last time they played a home game at this time of year they were thumped 4-0 by Hungary and they drew 0-0 with Italy the same month.

Granted, England were victorious in their four other home matches under Southgate in Junes. However, one goal wins over Nigeria, Austria and Romania show that even when winning they weren’t running riot over opponents.

North Macedonia are lower in the FIFA rankings than those sides were, in fairness, but this match has the feeling of an obligation rather than a celebration. It could easily be low scoring.

The head-to-head

(North) Macedonia’s first visit to England was certainly memorable for David Seaman. The human ponytail allowed Artim Sakiri to score directly from a corner in a 2-2 draw. Seaman never played for England again but I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

Anyway, the next meeting on England’s turf ended 0-0 and there’s reason to think North Macedonia will draw a blank once again. Under Southgate, England have played four home matches against teams who were ranked between 55th and 63rd in the FIFA Rankings. As the North Macedonians are currently 65th, those matches are a reasonable guideline for this one, and more relevant than a match which occurred over 20 years ago.

The good news for Three Lions fans is that their side won those four games and kept a clean sheet every time. You might recall North Macedonia winning a World Cup play-off 1-0 in Italy last year. While history could repeat, the shot count was 32-4 in favour of the Italians, so they really should have won to nil. England should too.

Goal-scorer history

You don’t need to read this to know that Kane would be the obvious choice in this market. But it’s worth knowing that playing this standard of team seems to suit the England captain perfectly.

Those four home games against similar standard teams that I mentioned? Kane scored in all of them. He got the only goal of a win over Slovenia, then scored hat-tricks against Bulgaria, Montenegro and Albania.

Anything is possible selection-wise at this time of year so check who Southgate has picked. If Kane is in the starting XI then history suggests he could easily be good for two-or-more goals (and especially with the soft penalties which get handed out these days. Just ask Malta).

Cards on the cards

North Macedonia are not a particularly card-heavy side (though their red card against Ukraine on Friday may suggest otherwise). They only collected one booking when winning in Italy and two in the next round of the play-offs against Portugal last year.

Playing England does seem to be a recipe for getting yellow cards though. The last five sides from outside the top 50 in the rankings to play them prior to Malta all picked up at least two and an average of four.

With Southgate’s boys only avoiding a booking themselves in one of those matches, the total cards in reverse order for those games were six, four, five, seven and five.

Referee Istvan Kovacs averages over four cards per game in international football and booked a quartet of North Macedonians when he did their match with Netherlands at Euro 2020. Expect cards here.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.


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