Kosovo vs EnglandEuro 2020, KO: 17:00 Nov 17, 2019, Fadil Vokrri Stadium
ENGLAND secured top spot in Group A and qualified for Euro 2020 on Thursday night by mauling Montenegro 7-0 at Wembley.
Consequently, Gareth Southgate's fearless young lions have booked their place at next Summer's showpiece with a game to spare and England's final Group A assignment will take place on Sunday evening when they make their first ever trip to Kosovo.
Both these sides shared eight goals between them back in September in what was an extremely entertaining encounter at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium on a night that saw England run out 5-3 winners.
Indeed, Kosovo's open and attack-minded performance on the south coast won them plenty of admirers, however, Bernard Challandes' side will have to settle for a play-off place after losing 2-1 to the Czech Republic in Prague on Thursday night.
Now that the Kosovans automatic qualification hopes have gone up in smoke, coupled with the fact that England have rubber-stamped their Euro 2020 ticket, I suspect another captivating contest could be in store when these two teams lock horns in Pristina this weekend.
The bookmakers make England odds-on favourites to do the double over Kosovo by pricing the Three Lions at 11/20 (UniBet) however, those odds look slightly short to me for a fixture where both managers could well ring the changes.
One such change could see Raheem Sterling be recalled to the starting XI for England after the Man City man was frozen out of Thursday nights squad following a reported fit of petulance that led to a scuffle with teammate Joe Gomez.
Sterling has since issued both a private and public apology for his actions and after watching his colleagues from the sidelines on Thursday night I fancy Sterling to grab the headlines for the right reasons on Sunday.
Under Pep Guardiola's stewardship Sterling has evolved into a superstar for both club and country and after smashing in eight goals in six Group A matches I'm attracted to the 6/4 (BetVictor) on offer for Sterling to add to that tally against a Kosovo backline without any recognised household names.
Kosovo's failure to qualify automatically can perhaps be attributed to their defensive deficiencies – they have only registered one clean-sheet in seven Group A outings thus far – and that does not bode well ahead of a showdown with free-scoring England who have smashed in 33 goals on route to qualification.
However, the hosts will take confidence from scoring three times against England in the 5-3 reverse as well as the fact that they have hit the back of the net in each of their last 14 international outings.
Although England cruised to victory in midweek, Montenegro had their moments and they could well have got on the scoresheet – and I suspect the classy Kosovans could have more attacking quality to unsettle Southgate's young guns.
Although I wouldn't be surprised to see England end their campaign by coming out on top in this tussle, I'm not so sure it will be as straightforward as the betting suggests.
Southgate could well experiment and Kosovo have only lost two of their last 19 matches – winning 10 of their 11 home games – however, England will represent their toughest test to date on home soil.
England are averaging over 4.5 goals per-game in Group A and eight of their nine international fixtures during this calendar year have seen over 2.5 goals scored.
What's more, four of Kosovo's qualifiers have seen over 2.5 goals land and that means that 11 of the 14 games that these two sides have contested collectively during this campaign have seen three or more goals scored – and the 3/4 (SportingBet) on offer for a repeat on Sunday evening appeals in what should be another action-packed affair between two of Europe's great entertainers.
This Euro 2020 match between Kosovo and England will be played on Nov 17, 2019 and kick off at 17:00