MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 00:08:54| >> :120:37354:37354:
Nov 17, 2019 at 5pm UK at Pristina City Stadium
KosovoKosovo
0-4
England
FT(HT: 0-1)
Winks (32'), Kane (79'), Rashford (83'), Mount (91')

Preview: Kosovo vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's final Euro 2020 qualifier between Kosovo and England, including predictions, team news and possible starting lineups.

England will look to sign off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign in winning fashion when they travel to Kosovo for the first time ever on Sunday afternoon.

The Three Lions booked their place at next summer's tournament in style by hammering Montenegro 7-0 on Thursday, whereas Kosovo's hopes were ended by a late collapse in the Czech Republic.


Match preview

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for England on November 14, 2019© Reuters

It is on to the next 1,000 games now after England's landmark match against Montenegro turned into a grand old affair, with Gareth Southgate's side running riot at Wembley on Thursday night.

The previous 1,000 contained just that one famous World Cup win, but the manner in which this young England team is developing has raised hope that there will be more than one crowning glory in the next 1,000 outings.

The team which hit seven past Montenegro was England's youngest for 60 years and, while they undoubtedly filled their boots against vastly inferior opposition, the victory was not a one-off for this current crop of Three Lions.

Indeed, England have now scored five or more goals in five different matches this calendar year - more than they have ever managed before - and have 34 goals from nine games in 2019. Not since their World Cup-winning year of 1966 (38) have they had more.

The victory also leaves Southgate's side as the leading scorers in Euro 2020 qualifying, overtaking Belgium despite having played a game fewer than the world's top-ranked team.

England manager Gareth Southgate on November 14, 2019© Reuters

England have now scored 13 goals without reply in their two games since falling to a first qualifying defeat in a decade, powering into what could effectively be a home tournament next summer.

By guaranteeing top spot in Group A, England have ensured that they will play all three Euro 2020 group games at Wembley, while the stadium will also host the semi-finals and final. Should they win their group then they would face the short hop over to Dublin for the last 16 and then travel to Rome for the quarter-finals.

That all seems a long way away at the moment, but Southgate has just three matches left, including this one, before he must pick his squad for the tournament and despite a number of convincing wins, there are still questions for him to answer.

The biggest of those arguably comes in defence; Southgate has fielded seven different back fours in nine games this calendar year and England have looked shaky at times - not least in the reverse of this fixture.

Even Montenegro created a couple of clear chances during the 7-0 drubbing on Thursday and, while England may get away with them during qualifying, the best teams in world football will not be so merciful in the tournament itself.

Harry Maguire in action for England on November 14, 2019© Reuters

Southgate must therefore strike a balance of experimentation and consistency over the next three games, although Sunday's match is by no means a dead rubber.

England may have qualified, but their final seeding at Euro 2020 is not yet secure and they may need a point in Pristina to secure their place as one of six top seeds.

The 2018 World Cup semi-finalists will go into Sunday's game as favourites to get all three points, of course, but they will also be wary of a Kosovo side that showed exactly what they are capable of in the reverse fixture at St Mary's in September.

A free-spirited Kosovan side took the lead after only 34 seconds in that match and, while they then found themselves 5-1 down by half time, they fought back at the start of the second half and even threatened an astonishing comeback before eventually falling to a 5-3 defeat.

Kosovo's Valon Berisha celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates on September 10, 2019© Reuters

It was the first time an away team had scored three goals against England in a competitive international since November 2007, and Sunday's hosts will no doubt take confidence from that.

Kosovo played that match as if they had nothing to lose, so the fact that they actually have nothing on the line in this one may make them even more dangerous, with Thursday's 2-1 defeat to Czech Republic ending their Euro 2020 dream in agonising fashion.

Bernard Challandes's side led until the final 20 minutes in Plzen, but the Czechs came back to confirm their own place at next summer's tournament by taking a four-point lead over their opponents with only one game left.

Nonetheless, it has been a hugely impressive and encouraging campaign for a country that was only granted UEFA and FIFA membership in 2016, and Thursday's defeat was only their second in their last 19 games across all competitions. To put that into context, they had lost nine in a row beforehand.

Kosovo form: WWLWWL

England form: WWWLWW


Team News

Raheem Sterling in action for England on September 7, 2019© Reuters

Raheem Sterling will be back in the team for England on Sunday having sat out the Montenegro rout following his altercation with Joe Gomez, who was inexplicably booed by some sections of the Wembley crowd when he came off the bench on Thursday.

Jadon Sancho came in for the Manchester City winger on that occasion and may be the man to make way, having struggled to make as big an impact as Marcus Rashford on the opposite flank.

Captain Harry Kane was taken off before the hour mark having notched a first-half hat-trick, his third treble for England to take him past Alan Shearer and onto 31 goals from just 44 appearances for his country - well on course to break Wayne Rooney's all-time record.

The early rest suggests that he may be used again in this one, despite Tammy Abraham coming off the bench to score his first international goal.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was another who was taken off early and could therefore be in line to start again following his first England goal since 2017, although Liverpool teammate Jordan Henderson is now available after missing Thursday's game through suspension.

James Maddison will be hoping to make his first start after coming off the bench for his debut against Montenegro, while Southgate must also decide whether to hand Declan Rice another chance at the base of the midfield.

It is in defence where England really need to start building consistency, so Southgate may be considering an unchanged back four. Ben Chilwell registered a hat-trick of assists to further his claim as the starting left-back, while Trent Alexander-Arnold was also impressive on the opposite flank.

The Liverpool full-back's position is under constant threat from Kieran Trippier, though, while there is also plenty of competition to partner Harry Maguire in the middle. John Stones got the nod on Thursday, but Joe Gomez, Tyrone Mings and uncapped Fikayo Tomori are also in contention.

Kosovo are without their all-time leading scorer Vedat Muriqi through injury, but their other goalscorer from the reverse fixture Valon Berisha is expected to start.

Sheffield Wednesday's Atdhe Nuhiu scored their goal against Czech Republic and could lead the line again, although Elba Rashani has four goals in 10 games for his country.

Nuhiu is one of a number of Kosovan internationals to ply their trade in the English leagues, alongside Bersant Celina, Florent Hadergjonaj and Arijanet Muric.

Kosovo possible starting lineup:
Muric; Vojvoda, Rrahmani, Aliti, Kololli; Halimi, Berisha; Hadergjonaj, Celina, Rashica; Nuhiu

England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Trippier, Maguire, Stones, Chilwell; Henderson, Rice, Maddison; Sterling, Kane, Rashford


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Kosovo 1-3 England

This Kosovo team can score goals and are likely to approach this game with a gung-ho attitude, so we can see it being another entertaining affair. Ultimately, though, we are backing the visitors' superior quality to shine through in another relatively comfortable win.



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England manager Gareth Southgate on November 14, 2019
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Wednesday's key events


ROWING
· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

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· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
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ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

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