ENGLAND look to secure top spot in the group on Monday night as they face Slovakia in Saint-Etienne. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) shares his view.
Slovakia v England | Monday 20:00 | ITV1
England look to wrap up Group B on Monday night and reward those punters who got stuck into their shade-of-odds-on price at the start of the tournament.
It’s been a frantic, frenetic tournament for Roy Hodgson’s side so far. They dominated Russia in the opening game yet somehow contrived to drop two points in a second half where they dropped off from the strong first half tempo they had harvested.
It was a sore one to take and things went from sore to scary on Thursday when they trailed Wales 1-0 at half-time. Hodgson shook things up from the bench before the second half and it jolted the side back into motion.
Wave after wave of attack followed by the English and they got their just rewards through goals by Jamie Vardy and very late on Daniel Sturridge. Both are expected to start here.
Slovakia have looked pretty decent so far in the competition. Their match against Wales could have gone either way but they ended up losing 2-1 which was perhaps a little harsh.
Showing lots of character from that they bounced back to record a fairly comfortable 2-1 win over Russia to put themselves bang in contention for a Last 16 spot.
A defeat here would put them in a difficult position and they’d need Russia to fail to beat Wales and hope they keep the score tidy against England.
A draw will surely be enough to at least give them a third place qualifying slot and that’s probably what Jan Kozak’s side will be aiming for here.
I’ve a feeling that may be beyond them on Monday. As mentioned previously I think this is England’s best chance of winning a title for 20 years thanks to their kind draw and they can capitalise on that by taking three points here and secure top spot in Group B.
As if expected Hodgson leads with Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy then it’s a mouth-watering combination that could do some damage.
Vardy can’t do anything wrong at the moment and even feels cocksure enough to turn down Arsenal while Daniel Sturridge when in form is the man you want in a striking role for your team. I can’t see that pair not taking advantage of their starts here and compounding Harry Kane’s misery further.
I’m expecting England to take the lead here and then Slovakia to push forward a bit and become more of an attacking threat. That might just prove potent for them when they look at the flaws in this England defence.
If England do fall short in this competition then it will be the defence that costs them. A centre back partnership of Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling shouldn’t strike fear into any top-level team. Defensive concerns are backed up in the stats today when you notice that England have kept just two clean sheets in their last nine matches.
With England conceding in two Euro 2016 games so far (unlike market leaders Spain, France and Germany) and Slovakia scoring in both their games I’m expecting goals at both ends here – especially if the Slovaks need to show some urgency.
I’m backing England to win and both teams to score at odds at 17/4 with Netbet and also getting involved with England and Over 3.5 at 7/1 with the same firm.
England have a habit of playing in these goal-laden games during the final game of a tournament group stage (4-2 v Croatia in 2004 springs to mind) and I think that will reoccur here.