By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Fresh from taking San Marino apart like Dawn French takes apart a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, confidence is high that England can make it two wins in five days when they play Montenegro this evening. A win for England would move them to the top of Group H at the expense of tonight’s hosts and although that’s fuelled largely by three trouncings of San Marino and Moldova, it’s still a nice feeling going into a run of games that will be less of a foregone conclusion.
Support for England is strong, possibly bizarrely so against a useful team who’ll fit neatly into the ‘technically strong eastern Europeans playing in front of a passionate home crowd’ pigeon hole we lazily put everyone east of the Elbe. That geographic reference may be lost on you if you don’t know your Oise from your Elbe. God, that’s an awful pun.
Anyhoo, the overwhelming majority of the money has been for England and it couldn’t be more patriotic if it stood up in a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts and started paying a family millions of pounds a year to sit around wearing crowns and get naked in Las Vegas pent houses. 94 per cent of the bets have been for Roy Hodgson’s side which suggests for most fans, defeat seems about as likely as Ashley Young getting a cross without feeling the need to beat the full back at least seven times first. Despite having some useful players and not losing in their brief two game history with England, just four per cent of all bets going on Montenegro and only two per cent of all bets going on the perfectly-feasible draw.
Wayne Rooney is the biggest loser in the First Goalscorer betting. Sir Alex Ferguson might wish he was the biggest loser in the actual The Biggest Loser, but England fans are standing by their man to deliver tonight. Rooney has found the target against Montenegro before, but sadly the target he was going for was the back of Miodrag Džudović’s calf muscle. After getting on the scoresheet against San Marino, Rooney has attracted almost six times as many bets as anyone else in the market. Despite the feeling that they go together like Adam Sandler and ‘quality cinema’ Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have also been well backed to open the scoring, with Joleon Lescott the most popular choice of fans of the ‘backing the big man up from the back’ tactic.
Montenegro aren’t without a scoring threat of their own and Juventus striker, Mirko Vucinic is the third most popular choice in the top ten. Not far behind him is Stevan Jovetic, the highly rated Fiorentina striker and owner of possibly the best hair on the pitch. Sorry Wayne, there’s some things money can’t buy and natural curls like that are one of them.