Bet of the Day: England to win impressively in Montenegro

14th September 2021

Fresh from one of the most impressive results and performances in their recent history, England turn their attentions to the picturesque city of Podgorica and a meeting with Montenegro. This will be the fifth time the sides have met – which, given that the small Balkan nation has only been independent for thirteen years, is verging on becoming a regular fixture. It’s also absolutely the kind of match that used to trip up past English sides. Teams managed by Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson have made this journey in full expectation of three points, and each has returned with just one. Southgate’s side, then, visit Podgorica looking to secure a first England win on Montenegrin soil.

They’ve warmed up for this appointment with a 5-0 drubbing of the Czech Republic, widely considered the closest thing to a challenger among the four other teams in the group. So tonight’s encounter – despite England’s shaky history in this head-to-head – seems like a very manageable opportunity to pick up another three points and open up a comfortable lead in Group A. Below, we go through the smartest wagers you can make on the match and select our Bet of the Day.

Confident England to maintain scoring touch

The unquestionable star of England’s pasting of a surprisingly flat Czech side was Raheem Sterling, grabbing himself a hat-trick. Excitingly, Sterling seems to have struck up an understanding with the prodigy Jadon Sancho on the other wing, with the Dortmund teenager providing an assist on Sterling’s first goal. Unfortunately, Sancho may miss this outing – he’s complained of muscle tightness in the aftermath of Friday’s game and, given that he turns 19 today, the temptation to field him needs to be balanced against the need to manage his fitness through a crucial stage in his development.

This may be the perfect game in which to give a start to another young tyro, Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi. Himself only 18, Hudson-Odoi has been enthralling when let off the leash by the Blues, and he may be the perfect replacement for Sancho. This will allow England to play their progressive, attacking game and offer an attacking threat from first to last whistle – and with Betway offering odds of 13/8 on England scoring in both halves, there’s good reason to believe that’s a bet worth making.

Don’t rule out a confident home side

It’s hard to see any outcome in this match other than an away win – but that doesn’t mean England will have it all their own way. The Podgorica Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for previous Three Lions sides, and there are reasons for that beyond those England sides being fairly mediocre. Among those reasons are the fact that a noisy, partisan home crowd make a point of providing a hostile environment for visiting sides, something that past England players – often, disproportionately, those who are black – have found out to their cost. While the visitors will know precisely what to expect, actually playing in that atmosphere is a test at the best of times.

Leaving aside the unpleasant side of things, there should be some recognition that Montenegro have a decent collection of players. Striker Stefan Mugosa – currently employed in South Korea with Incheon United – knows where the goal is and scored an exceptional strike in his country’s 1-1 draw with Bulgaria in their first group game. While most bookies reckon that the Both Teams To Score question will be answered with a “no”, we like the 5/4 odds available at William Hill on “Yes”. England should still win, but those expecting a one-sided whitewash may be surprised by what they see.

An entertaining game with an unsurprising result

Taking all matters into account – and remembering that even the youngest players in the England squad will, unfortunately, be no strangers to angry crowds and racist half-wittery – this match looks like a decent chance for the visitors to reinforce their position at the top of Group A. They’ll need to keep their nerve, particularly early on, but assuming they can weather the storm, chances to score will present themselves against a decent, but flawed side. With wingers filled with confidence and one of the best strikers in the world on their side, Southgate’s men should be able to make the most of those chances.

Allowing for the very real possibility that the hosts will get on the scoresheet themselves, an interesting punt on the Correct Score market could be a 3-1 England win – something which Paddy Power have priced at 10/1. For sure, as the old saying goes, Southgate would snatch your hand off right now for three points – but the manager’s intelligent marshalling of a collection of talented players has seen this current squad grow to the point where we can expect better than a nervy 1-0 in games like these – so we’d make the Paddy Power punt our Bet of the Day.

Bets of the Day

England to win 3-1 (Paddy Power, 10/1); Both Teams To Score – Yes (5/4, William Hill); England score in both halves (Betway, 13/8)

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