Tough night in store for England against red-hot Chile
Roy Hodgson cuts a relaxed figure ahead of the Wembley friendly against Chile, after the veteran coach secured England’s qualification for the 2014 World Cup in October.
The Three Lions coach can afford to experiment ahead of next summer’s tournament, but a spate of injury withdrawals have forced changes upon Hodgson for the clash with the South Americans.
Chile will also be travelling to Brazil in June after qualifying comfortably from their section and recent form suggests they will provide a tough test for Hodgson’s boys.
Chile double chance @ 5/6
La Roja finished just four points behind World Cup second-favourites Argentina and two points behind Colombia to take the third automatic qualifying place in the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) section of 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side have not lost since going down 1-0 in Peru last March and have won six of their nine games since, which includes victories against fourth and fifth-placed South Americans Ecuador and Uruguay.
However, three draws during that run may be more indicative of their form coming into this game as Chile have shared the spoils against Brazil, Spain and Colombia in the last seven months and all of those matches were on the road.
With England likely to field a number of debutants at Wembley, where they have been far from scintillating in recent friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Scotland, the team FIFA rank as 12th-best in the world can frustrate the Three Lions by claiming at least a draw.
Alexis Sanchez to score the first goal @ 10/1
The Barcelona forward had a few nice things to say about England’s Wayne Rooney ahead of this match, but Sanchez roundly dismissed his host’s chances in Brazil next summer, claiming England players are pampered from a young age and too soft.
He may be risking the wrath of the England faithful in north-west London, but the 24-year-old is a class act and can silence the Wembley crowd by breaking the deadlock here.
Sanchez has carried much of Barca’s goalscoring burden this term – with Lionel Messi either in indifferent form (by his stratospheric standards) or injured – and the winger has netted seven times in nine La Liga appearances so far.
The former Udinese man has also scored five in his last five matches for Chile, including the opener in their last game at home to Ecuador in October.
Alternatively, the 11/4 about Sanchez scoring at any time, as he has done in his last three La Liga games for Los Blaugrana, also appeals.
Both teams to score @ 8/13
The Three Lions may be suffering from a lack of experienced strikers in their squad, but Hodgson has brought in players that have shown their hunger for goals in the Premier League this term.
New England call-up Jay Rodriguez has scored three in his last five top-flight matches for Southampton and club teammate Adam Lallana notched last time out at home to Hull.
Jermain Defoe has only started once for Spurs in the Premier League this season, but in five Europa League games the 31-year-old has bagged seven strikes and managed a brace at Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup.
With Rooney also set to start at Wembley, where England have scored in all of their matches in the last three years, Hodgson’s men can get on the scoresheet against a Chile side who have conceded six times in their last three outings.