Preview: England vs. Albania 

Preview: England vs. Albania 

With World Cup 2022 qualification yet to be assured, England kick off their November fixtures with the visit of Albania to Wembley on Friday.

Gareth Southgate’s men currently hold a three-point lead atop the rankings, while their visitors are still in with a shot of a top-two finish as they occupy third place.

The despicable actions of a section of the away crowd marred England’s battle with Hungary in the capital, but on the pitch, the Three Lions struggled to assert their dominance and were forced to settle for a point in a 1-1 stalemate.

Roland Sallai’s penalty saw Hungary take a shock lead at Wembley before John Stones restored parity before the break, and there was no way through for Southgate’s side in the second 45 minutes during a frustrating display for the home crowd.

A comprehensive 5-0 thrashing of Andorra preceded their one-pointer with Hungary, but with Poland winning both of their games last month, England still have work to do to assure themselves of a spot in Qatar as they find themselves three points clear at the top with two games remaining.

Poland will be expected to sweep aside Andorra in their next fixture, but an England victory at Wembley would all but guarantee their first-placed finish, and failing that, the trip to minnows San Marino would surely do it for the Euro 2020 finalists.

Not since a 1-0 defeat to Germany in October 2000 have England suffered a home defeat in World Cup Qualifying – which also represents the last time they failed to score at home in this stage – but their upcoming opponents are not to be taken lightly.

Edoardo Reja’s Albania continue to defy expectation in Group I and are still in with a shot of booking their plane tickets to next year’s tournament, but their hopes of a first-ever World Cup Finals appearance were dealt a blow last time out against Poland.

After recording their third victory and third clean sheet of Qualifying on the bounce against Hungary, Albania went down to Karol Swiderski’s strike in a 1-0 success for Poland, which saw Roja’s men drop below their counterparts in the standings.

The Red and Blacks remain in third place and are only two points adrift of Poland, though, so Reja will be praying for already-eliminated Andorra to do them the unlikeliest of favours as they attempt to strut their stuff on the Wembley soil.

Reja’s side should have no trouble putting Andorra to the sword at home in their final game of Qualifying, but defeat for them here coupled with a Poland win against Andorra would kill off any hopes of their magical journey ending with an appearance at the World Cup Finals.

Goals from Harry Kane and Mason Mount propelled England to a 2-0 win on Albanian soil back in March, and the Three Lions boast a perfect record of five wins from five in this fixture, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one in that span.

England World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
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England form (all competitions):
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Albania World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
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Albania form (all competitions):
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We say: England 2-0 Albania
Reja and Albania command plenty of respect for the way they have conducted themselves in World Cup Qualifying, and the visitors will still be daring to dream as they step foot onto the Wembley turf.

England are under pressure to respond following their disappointing showing against Hungary, but their record in this fixture speaks for itself, and Southgate’s side should take a giant leap towards qualification with all three points here.

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