2018 World Cup Qualifiers: England vs Malta – Match Preview

2 days ago by Ved Prakash

A  lot has happened to England since they won 1-0 against Slovakia in their first 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier last month. Big Sam managed England for the first and last time. He parted ways with the Three Lions last week after the FA deemed his conduct during a meeting with undercover reporters posing as members of a Far East firm as "inappropriate".

Gareth Southgate has been promoted from the England U-21 boss to interim senior manager, and he has 4 games to prove that he is the right man for the job. His first test will be the guide the Three Lions past Malta. In his pre-match press conference, Southgate asserted that Wayne Rooney will retain his position as the national team captain. The English

England Team News:

Southgate has already been forced to make two changes to the squad with Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson replaced by Andros Townsend and Michael Keane due to injury. Leicester forward Jamie Vardy is likely to start in place of injured Kane, but United starlet Rashford can also be given a chance owing his strong start to the season.

Joe Hart is likely to retain his position between the sticks. He departed for Torino on loan after being denied game time by new Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

England are expected to win this one, but Southgate’s biggest call will be if-and in what role-he decides to play captain Wayne Rooney. He has been out of sorts lately, and has been regularly left on the bench by United boss Jose Mourinho; it will be interesting to see in what position he is deployed.

Malta Team News:

Pietro Ghedin’s side will try their best to win this one, and will be looking to take advantage of England’s vulnerable mental state. Malta, however, will surely be glad even if they are able to salvage a draw, given the quality of the England squad. But the possibilities of both these things happening are bleak.

Barnet forward Luke Gambin will miss the Wembley trip following his suspension at the 5-1 thrashing by Scotland. He is out for two games. Jonathan Caruana was also sent off but will come back for the Lithuania clash on 11th October. 

What the managers are saying:

Interim England boss Gareth Southgate: “I think the role is an honour. It's important we show leadership, step up and put things in place to give the team the best chance of a winning. I’m a proud and patriotic Englishman. In my view, it's a wonderful job to have for any period of time. It's huge for my family and everybody that's helped me in my career from a young player.

“The workings of the last week have been almost identical to running the under-21s. In such a short period of time to turn around the opposition planning, our own arrangements in such a short space of time. If I was comparing to when I took over at Middlesbrough, this has been far far calmer.”

Malta manager Pietro Ghedin: “I am sorry for Allardyce, but if you make a mistake sometimes you have to pay. This is the life. I know of Gareth Southgate, he was an intelligent player and he did well as under-21 coach. I think he is a good manager.”



Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster(Southampton), Joe Hart(Torino), Tom Heaton(Burnley).

Defenders:  Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Michael Keane (Burnley), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

Any recognizable faces in the Malta squad?

There aren’t a lot of players you might know about, but a certain Michael Misfud may ring a bell, whose greatest night came in September 2007, when he scored twice in a 2-0 victory for Coventry over Premier League Champions Manchester United at the Theatre of Dreams.

He is now 35 years old, playing for Maltese side Valletta and could earn his 119th cap.

Match Prediction:

England 4-0 Malta

England go into this game under a caretaker boss. Malta’s run of form is a cause of concern, and also they are one of the lowest ranked sides in Europe. England will hope to dominate the 176th ranked Maltese side at the Wembley stadium tonight. We thus predict a comfortable victory for the English side, by a minimum margin of 4 goals.


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