The football world is mourning another week of international action, and up and down the country fans brace themselves for more awkward small-talk between Gareth Southgate and Adrian Chiles.
England’s upcoming friendlies against Chile and Germany won’t determine how they perform in Rio next year – despite the knee-jerk reaction you’ll read in the press if the Three Lions beat a second-string German team who are more preoccupied with their Christmas shopping than the game at Wembley.
The belief is that some of the fringe players who get a run out in these games will be keen to stake their place for a seat on the plane and England will therefore perform better. Unfortunately for Roy Hodgson, the evidence for that theory isn’t as conclusive.
Going back to 1989, England have played nine friendly games in the November before a major international tournament.
- They have won five of those games, including three of the last four
- England’s two loses have both been by just a single goal
- Highlights include a 1-0 win over Spain in 2011 and a 3-2 victory over Argentina in 2005
- A 3-2 defeat by Denmark in 2003 and a 1-1 draw with Sweden in 2001 look considerably less impressive
All in all, a steady, if unspectacular resume. If you drink from a glass that is half full you’d happily point out that England’s win rate in these friendlies is 56 per cent. On the other hand, a pessimist would conclude that the Three Lions fail to win almost half of their November friendly games.
Roy Hodgson can take plenty of heart from England’s most recent November friendlies in 2011 though, when they beat both Spain and Sweden by one goal to nil. The Three Lions can also boast a last-minute 3-2 win over Argentina in 2005 where Michael Owen was the hero, rather than the man boring us with his analysis on BT Sports.
Three uncapped players have been called up for the matches agianst Chile and Germany – Celtic keeper Fraser Forster and Southampton duo Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez. Throw into the mix another six players who have five caps or less and the stage is set for a number of lads to make their case for a ticket to Rio.
England are 10/11 to beat Chile on Friday and 23/10 to win without conceding a goal. It is 13/2 for the Three Lions to win 1-0 for the third consecutive time in November friendlies before a major tournament, and 5/2 that Roy Hodgson’s men win by exactly one goal.