Meet the San Marino part-timers set to take on England
After an exceptional World Cup in Brazil, international football has rushed back to the doldrums via the painful grind of a European Championship qualification campaign.
England’s next match is against San Marino, a game they are a grotesque 1/250 to win and 21/20 to be victorious in even with a six-goal handicap.
The two sides have played four times, with the Three Lions scoring 26 times in those encounters and conceding once, a strike that makes up 1/20th of all San Marino’s goals in their history.
Up until last year La Serenissima had the smallest population of any UEFA country, but Gibraltar’s arrival on the international scene has made them the second tiniest of all the minnows in Europe.
The amount of professionals in their side can generally be counted on one hand and this time around the squad picked to face England is entirely made up of players based in San Marino.
The most ‘famous’ face is captain Andy Selva, who is his country’s leading scorer of all-time with eight strikes, the most recent of which came in 2008. He is also one of just two men to have scored more than once for La Serenissima.
Selva has played professionally in Italy for Sassuolo and Hellas Verona amongst others, but now plies his trade at La Fiorita.
The striker boasts the honour of being the only man in San Marino’s history to score a winning goal, as it was he who bagged the strike in their 1-0 friendly triumph over Liechtenstein in 2004.
The most recent scorer in the squad is Alessandro Della Valle, who broke his country’s five-year goalless run by netting in a 5-1 loss to Poland in September 2013.
San Marino started their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Lithuania, which was actually the best result they have recorded since losing by the same scoreline to Moldova in 2012.
Given that banking is one of the biggest industries in the tiny country, it is not surprising that many of England’s opponents have jobs in the financial sector alongside football.
As well as accountants and bank clerks, England will also be facing a smattering of students and a bar owner. A far cry from being downed by Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez in Brazil.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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