World Cup Qualifiers: England vs Slovenia lineups, preview, & prediction

England take to Wembley with a chance to book their ticket to Russia. Can they overcome a Slovenia side that needs to win?


19:45 (BST); Thursday 5th October; Wembley Stadium (London), ITV

With two qualification games remaining and a five-point lead, England can secure their spot in Russia 2018 with a draw if Scotland take points from Slovakia, and a win will put them on the plane no matter what.

As for Slovenia, they need three points from this game and a win at the weekend if they are to keep their hopes alive.

Last time out

England 2-1 Slovakia

After just three minutes England were behind as Stanislav Lobotka took advantage of sloppy defending to edge the visitors in front. However, a spirited recovery from England saw them draw level before the half. Marcus Rashford’s corner was swept home by Eric Dier, and after the break the young Manchester United winger hit the winner to claim three points and man of the match.

Slovenia 4-0 Lithuania

Slovenia’s last qualifying game was a comfortable 4-0 against one of the whipping boys of the group. Josip Ilicic converted two penalties, one in either half, before Benjamin Verbic and then Valter Birsa put the game beyond doubt.

England lineup

England are without Phil Jones and new left-back Fabian Delph due to injury, while the are also missing Dele Alli due to suspension.

Slovenia lineup

Slovenia have a full squad to pick from and are expected to field a similar formation and style that frustrated England in the reverse fixture.

Key Battle: Marcus Rashford vs Nejc Skubic

Rashford got just eight minutes in the game against Slovenia last October in Ljubljana as England were some-what lucky to come away with a 0-0 draw. This time he should see a full 90 minutes.

The Manchester United man has tormented Premier League full backs so far this season and created three assists while finding the back of the net twice. His direct style and eye for a quick pass will be a massive key to unlocking Slovenia's defence.

Trying to stop him will be Konyaspor's Nejc Skubic. Good luck!

The absence of Alli

Dele Alli's chemistry with Harry Kane is a big part of England's attacking venom. Without him, there is a risk that Kane becomes detached from the rest of the team and an isolated figure up front. It will be up to the likes of Jake Livermore, Raheem Sterling, and Rashford to make sure the Tottenham hit man doesn't become too lonely up top.

Patience & concentration

England don't need to win this game, but life would be a lot easier on Sunday if they did.

After their last experience with Slovenia, England will need to show a level head. Only Joe Hart's impressive day between the sticks stopped Slovenia from taking all three points, with errant passes allowing Josip Ilicic in behind the back four, and a reflex save from Jasmin Kurtic's header was the best part of England's performance that day.

England can ill-afford lapses in concentration again, and must stay focused. Slovenia have only conceded three goals during the qualifying campaign, often frustrating their opponents. The Three Lions cannot let themselves rush their buildup play or throw too many bodies forward and get caught on the brake.

Patience is a virtue, and it's one England must make use of on Thursday night.

Prediction: England 2-0 Slovenia

England are in a better position this year than they were a year ago when it comes to breaking down Slovenia. Both Rashford and Sterling possess the kind of speed and direct play that can give organised defences fits, and with Harry Kane as the spearhead instead of Daniel Sturridge they have a striker who can link play, bring others forward, and finish from practically anywhere.

As much as Slovenia need the points, I can't see them taking anything away from Wembley.

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Toby Durant

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Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.

 

I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.

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