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

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier between Montenegro and England.

England make the trip to the Podgorica City Stadium to face Montenegro having began their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a dominant victory over Czech Republic.

Montenegro have also started the group in positive fashion, having registered a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria.


Montenegro

Serbia midfielder Nikola Milenkovic in action during a Nations League tie with Montenegro in November 2018© Reuters

Montenegro find themselves on a run of just two victories from 13 matches - both of which came against Lithuania - but there is still reason for optimism for Ljubisa Tumbakovic's side.

Just four defeats have come from 11 outings, and there have been signs that this group of players are beginning to click when they are faced with a step up in class.

Narrow setbacks were suffered against each of Serbia and Romania during the closing fixtures in their UEFA Nations League qualifying group, while a draw was earned in Bulgaria on Friday night.

Montenegro are regarded as outsiders to earn the runners-up spot from Group A, but salvaging a share of the spoils against one of their group rivals has lifted the pressure ahead of welcoming England.

The Three Lions are expected to ease their way to top spot, but that will give Montenegro the freedom to express themselves in front of their own supporters.

The extra qualification places for this tournament has only increased interest from nations of the level of Montenegro, and England will expect a hostile atmosphere when they take to the pitch on Monday evening.

The absence of Stefan Savic and Stefan Jovetic is a considerable blow to their hopes of pulling off a shock result, but many members of this squad have experience of competing in the top leagues in Europe.

Fatos Beciraj and Stefan Mugosa represent Montenegro's biggest threat in attack, but Lazio defender Adam Marusic will also have a major part to play if his nation are to make an impact.

Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLD


England

England manager Gareth Southgate watches on during his side's international friendly with Switzerland on September 11, 2018© Reuters

England are seemingly riding a crest of a wave under Gareth Southgate, but a trip to face Montenegro represents a different test for this emerging group of players.

The Three Lions have spent much of the last 18 months competing against quality opposition, but you have to go back to October 2017 for the last time that England made the trip to a nation they were expected to beat in style.

England were forced to rely on a Harry Kane penalty as they defeated Lithuania by the narrowest of margins and although this team have improved since then, Southgate's side still need to show that they are capable of beating the smaller teams with minimal fuss.

A run of five wins and a draw from their last half-a-dozen outings suggests that they will do just that, and England were clinical in dispatching Czech Republic at Wembley Stadium on Friday evening.

Raheem Sterling's treble saw him dominate the headlines, but this was another collective performance from a team who are looking to put themselves in the best possible position to win the UEFA Nations League in June.

The extension of their season may lead to Southgate tinkering with his squad on Monday evening, but that should not prevent England from continuing to build on an impressive period of results since the defeat to Spain in September.

Fourteen goals and four clean sheets have come in six games, and seven different players have combined to net 13 of those strikes with Tomas Kalas's own goal for Czech Republic completing the list.

Jordan Henderson could win his 50th international cap on Monday evening, but the fact that the Liverpool man is the most experienced player in this squad will fill England's fans with excitement ahead of their upcoming tests.

Recent form (all competitions): WDWWWW


Team News

Declan Rice during an England training session on March 19, 2019© Reuters

Nine members of this England squad are still involved in European competition with their clubs, and Southgate may take that into account when selecting his team on Monday night.

The withdrawal of Eric Dier could lead to a first start for Declan Rice, while Kieran Trippier may get the nod over Kyle Walker at right-back.

Ross Barkley could potentially be included ahead of Dele Alli in midfield, with the Tottenham Hotspur man having come through an hour in his second game back after injury.

Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Kane could all keep their places, although Callum Hudson-Odoi and Callum Wilson will both expect to feature at some point in the match.

Tumbakovic is without Savic and Jovetic, and it may lead to the same starting lineup being selected for the visit of the Three Lions.

Aleksandar Boljevic is a possible inclusion on the flank should Tumbakovic opt to freshen up his team.

Montenegro possible starting lineup:
Petkovic; Marusic, Simic, Tomasevic, Stojkovic; Jankovic, Ivanic, Vukcevic, Vesovic; Mugosa, Beciraj

England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Trippier, Keane, Maguire, Chilwell; Henderson, Rice, Barkley; Sancho, Kane, Sterling


Head To Head

Monday's encounter will represent the fifth meeting between the nations, and England are yet to taste defeat against Montenegro.

However, three of the four matches have ended with draws, with the most notable game coming when Wayne Rooney was sent off during a 2-2 draw in October 2011.

England are yet to prevail in an away fixture with Montenegro, but a 4-1 triumph was recorded when the teams met at Wembley in October 2013.


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We say: Montenegro 1-4 England

Montenegro are not the team which they once were, but they will relish the chance to cause a surprise against one of the in-form teams in international football. However, England should have enough quality to ease to a comfortable win.


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Who will win Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier between Montenegro and England?

Montenegro
Draw
England
Montenegro
13.6%
Draw
0.0%
England
86.4%
Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring during the Nations League game between Spain and England on October 15, 2018
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