England ease past San Marino as Hodgson looks to Poland tie
England cruised to a 5-0 victory over San Marino at Wembley to consolidate their position at the top of World Cup European Qualifying Group H.
And with rivals Ukraine stuttering to a goalless draw in Moldova, Roy Hodgson’s side are now the clear 1/3 favourites to win the group.
A dominant if adequate performance against the European minnows was achieved thanks to two goals apiece from captain Wayne Rooney and man-of-the-match Danny Welbeck as well as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first international goal.
It was attack versus defence for the entirety of the 90 minutes, hardly surprising given that San Marino have a population of around 30,000, just 10% of that of the London Borough of Brent that is home to England’s national stadium.
But the patient build-up play and efficient one-touch finishing from the Three Lions will give Hodgson confidence ahead of the trip to Poland.
The Poles, along with Ukraine, are likely to give England the fiercest challenge for the top spot in Group H, although a Montenegrin side with Stevan Jovetić and Mirko Vučinić can’t be discounted.
If Poland can defeat the visitors then their current 7/1 odds to win the six-team league will undoubtedly shorten, whilst 5/1 Ukraine face a tricky home tie against 11/1 outsiders Montenegro.
The other two sides in Group H aren’t worth considering for top spot, with Moldova miles back at 2,000/1 and San Marino way off the horizon at 10,000/1.
England fans will not be getting too carried away after a predictable drubbing of the plucky part-timers, but some may be looking to the tournament odds for the 2014 World Cup already.
The Three Lions lacked attacking potency as the exited at the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 this summer, and their 16/1 odds for success in two years time looks about right.
Hosts Brazil are the 7/2 favourites, with nearby Argentina next best placed at 5/1 along with the winners of the last three international tournaments Spain.
Germany look in good shape at the moment and could offer value given the youth in their ranks at 8/1, whilst Italy always do well in the big competitions and are priced at 12/1 with erratic Holland.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.