History shows Hodgson’s new-look Lions face tough Norway task
England (1/2 odds-on favourites) host Norway (6/1) at Wembley for their first match since their dismal showing at the World Cup in Brazil, where they lost to Italy and Uruguay, before drawing to so-called minnows Costa Rica.
Manager Roy Hodgson has been trusted to carry on, though, and has called up a relatively new-look squad that involves 16 of the 23 players who failed at the finals. The game against the Norwegians is in preparation for the Three Lions’ Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland on September 8th.
So low is the spirit around the country, that this friendly will be watched by the lowest capacity crowd by an international team in history (expected to be up to 40k), according to FA general secretary Alex Horne. The previous low was 48,876 in 2011 against Sweden for a friendly.
“It will be the lowest crowd we have had at Wembley and it is disappointing,” said Horne.
“We have incredibly loyal supporters – 5000 went to Brazil – and we are working hard on what we can give them to make them feel part of the England experience.”
New captain Wayne Rooney, 4/1 to open the scoring against Norway, though, said: “I still think the crowd is going to be good, round about 40k, and if you look round Europe it’s still one of the highest there is.
“Obviously it is a bit lower than normal but we expected that. The World Cup was disappointing and it’s a backlash from that. We want to make sure the crowd know we are giving everything we can to win the game tomorrow and on Monday [against Switzerland].”
Hodgson has included four new faces to the senior set-up, Jack Colback, Fabian Delph (7/1 to score anytime), Danny Rose and Calum Chambers (both 12/1), though the former has been ruled out of the match at Wembley.
The England boss has already given us an idea of who will play, saying: “All but one of the squad are fit. Colback is out of the game tomorrow (Wednesday). The starting line up will be a young one. It will contain some interesting talents and has enormous potential.
“There will be no one making their debut from the start but there will be one or two players who won’t have had many starts.”
It is certainly a new era for England, who have lost the last of their ‘Golden Generation’ of players recently, with former skipper Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole all calling time on their international careers.
Rooney (priced at 7/4 – maximum stake £20 – to score anytime and the Three Lions win in a Coral special), who is the only player with more than 50 caps in this current squad (with 95), seems to be encouraged about England’s future.
“It’s exciting times,” the 28-year-old added. “The Italy game and the Uruguay game [at the World Cup] were really disappointing results but I thought we did well in both. We showed some great signs of great attacking football and the lads have hopefully gained some vital experience, and we can go out and play some attractive football.”
Whilst Rooney is in positive mood about his side’s chances against Norway, recent history suggests the Three Lions could be in for a close game.
England have only won one of the last six encounters with them, which was the last meeting in 2012. The score was 1-0 that day in Oslo, with Ashley Young scoring, but the winger has been left out of this current squad. Instead, you can back new attacking sensation Raheem Sterling to net anytime at 7/4. His Liverpool teammate Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, is priced at evens.
The two prior head-to heads between these nations have ended in 0-0 draws, though, including one at Wembley in 1994, and you can take odds of 11/1 for that scoreline again.
England have managed to keep a clean sheet in their last three games with Norway, so back them odds-on at 10/11 to do so once more, or 5/4 to win to nil.
If you are one of the few who have great confidence in this Three Lions side, you can look back to 1980 and 1938, when England won their only home games against Norway, where they beat them on both occasions 4-0. Odds of 20/1 say they are victorious by that scoreline again.
Coral are also offering another fantastic special with odds of 7/2 (max stake £20) if Hodgson’s men win both halves.
For the travelling team, look no further than British-based players Joshua King (Blackburn Rovers), who is priced at 5/1 to net anytime, and Celtic’s Stefan Johansen (7/1).