Gareth Southgate’s England look set to continue their positive post-World Cup form, though it will be a tough assignment in Montenegro.
Since reaching the World Cup semi-finals in the summer, the Three Lions have qualified for the Nations League finals in Portugal – having beaten Spain and Croatia on the way – while they have also enjoyed friendlies wins over Switzerland and the United States.
Their first European Championship qualifying match took place on Friday evening, and they steamrollered an average Czech Republic side to win the game 5-0 and get the Three Lions’ faithful excited once more.
It was another game which showcased young stars playing with the freedom that has been associated with England in Southgate’s tenure.
Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice and Callum Hudson-Odoi all featured, though it was Raheem Sterling, a comparatively senior figure in the squad, who stole the show with a hat trick.
Sterling’s form for both club and country has been sensational this season, netting 24 goals in total, and he can be backed at 8/1 to score at least another two in Podgorica.
However, there should be no expectation of the match being as comfortable as Friday night at Wembley.
Montenegro provides the archetypal tough away fixture in Europe and England know all too well how tricky it can be going to the Podgorica City Stadium.
There have only ever been four meetings between the two sides, with the Montenegrin side only established in 2007 following the split from Serbia, and England have not won either of their away meetings.
The first clash in October 2011 was notable for Wayne Rooney’s red card for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic that cost him the opening two games at Euro 2012.
That game finished 2-2, while the other match in Montenegro ended in a 1-1 stalemate 18 months later. The Brave Falcons also held England to a 0-0 draw at Wembley in the first ever meeting between the two, although the Three Lions won the most recent clash 4-1 in the World Cup qualifiers in 2013.
While there are no household names in the Montenegro squad, particularly with ex-Manchester City man Stevan Jovetic not involved, the 678,000-populated nation have always punched above their weight, and can be backed at 7/2 to draw once again with England and at 17/2 to record their first victory, with Southgate’s men the 4/11 favourites.
The World Cup semi-finalists will certainly need to do more defending than on Friday night, though Michael Keane and Harry Maguire looked solid and are available at 8/13 to keep a clean sheet.