With only one point needed to book their plane tickets to Qatar, England face off against San Marino in their final World Cup 2022 qualifying battle on Monday.
The Three Lions are three points clear at the top of the Group I rankings with one game remaining, while their hosts will be glad to see the back of another doomed campaign.
San Marino very nearly held Hungary to a respectable 2-0 scoreline during their penultimate game of the group, but late strikes from Dominik Szoboszlai and Balint Vecsei ultimately saw Franco Varrella’s men succumb to a 4-0 defeat in Budapest.
The world’s 210th-ranked nation continue to prove easy pickings for the teams around them and will surely finish their Group I campaign without a single point to their name, having failed in both attempts to give fellow eliminated side Andorra a good run for their money.
Varrella’s men enter the final game of their failed qualification bid having scored just one goal and conceded a staggering 36 – at an average of four per game – and the focus this week for the hosts will surely be keeping the scoreline as low as possible.
San Marino can expect to face a much-changed and youthful England side at the San Marino Stadium, but if the Three Lions’ thrashing of Albania is anything to go by, the home fans could be fearful of a double-figure drubbing to round off another lowly year.
Harry Kane may not be firing on all cylinders for Tottenham Hotspur this term, but the England captain continues to prove his worth to Gareth Southgate with a first-half hat-trick in their 5-0 thrashing of Albania on Friday evening.
Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire also made the net ripple in the opening 45 minutes as England saw off their confidence-depleted opponents before the half-time whistle blew, and only the most calamitous of collapses would see the Three Lions fail to qualify now.
Poland’s comprehensive 4-1 win over Andorra means that the job is not done and dusted just yet for England, but they simply need to avoid defeat in the microstate to guarantee their first-placed finish, although it would be the surprise of the century to see them not come away with all three.
With a whopping 29 goals scored and only three conceded in Group I, England’s rising stars will be under pressure to replicate such dominance in next year’s tournament, and they travel to San Marino unbeaten away from home in World Cup qualifying since 2009.
England unsurprisingly hit San Marino for five during their clash with the minnows at Wembley, and the Three Lions have never failed to score fewer than six goals in each of their seven victories in this fixture, banking an average of seven per game away from home.
San Marino World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
England World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
We say: San Marino 0-6 England
No matter what XI Southgate sends onto the field on Monday, a comprehensive thrashing is the only outcome on the menu, with Albania feeling the full force of the Three Lions’ rampant attacking machine on Friday.
England have never failed to score fewer than six goals in an away battle with San Marino, and we expect them to keep that hot streak going to secure a simple route into next year’s World Cup.