Gareth Southgate’s team can depart for Russia with a win over Costa Rica at Elland Road although it won’t be plain sailing against a useful South American outfit.
These teams renew acquaintances almost four years on from their 2014 World Cup tussle in Belo Horizonte, a night to forget for the Three Lions.
Successive defeats to Italy and Uruguay had already consigned Roy Hodgson’s team to an early return home from Brazil, and a scoreless draw did little to lift the mood before their departure.
Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Raheem Sterling are the only survivors in the current England squad from that evening, but Southgate’s side can make it back-to-back friendly wins in Leeds.
Jesse Lingard – First Goalscorer @ 11/2
England were quite impressive in the opening 45 minutes of the win over Nigeria at Wembley before tailing off a bit towards the end. Despite conceding to their African opponents, the Three Lions always appeared to be in the comfort zone while sitting on a one-goal advantage.
There are goals in this team. It is likely that the England boss will give Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard another chance to showcase themselves in the same starting team. On Saturday their willingness to move freely around the pitch was a source of concern for Nigeria in the first half.
Both are clever players with an eye for goal and the ability to create chances. Will England be willing to include both for the potential Group G blockbuster with Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28?
That is a debate for another day. But Alli and Lingard should be key in the games against Tunisia and Panama if England are going to enter that showdown in a position of strength.
Lingard enjoyed a good season with Manchester United and is a decent call to score first at Elland Road.
England to win and both teams to score @ 41/20
Skipper Harry Kane continued his love affair with captaining his country as he netted, fortuitously, against Nigeria.
The Spurs frontman has scored every time he has pulled on the armband, netting six times in five games as England captain. He’ll fancy his chances of extending that record in this game.
Costa Rica showed they are no pushover themselves on Sunday when they breezed past Northern Ireland 3-0. In doing so, they matched Germany and Croatia as the only two nations to have beaten Michael O’Neill’s men by more than a solitary goal since November 2014.
They will create chances, particularly given there are still some questions to be asked over England’s three-man defensive system. There are also likely to be plenty of changes from Southgate after half-time which may lead to chances for the visitors.
All told, England should sign off with a win before departing for their Russian odyssey.
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