Moldova - England Preview: Hodgson hoping to kick-start World Cup qualification campaign with a win
The Three Lions travel to Chisinau for the first time since 1996 and will want to secure all three points in the race to reach Brazil 2014 with tougher tests still to come
By Ewan Roberts
Bulgaru, Racu, Epureanu, Armas
Covalciuc, Onica, Doros
Walker, Cahill, Terry, Baines
Milner, Gerrard, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Moldovan manager Ion Caras has pretty much a full squad to choose from. However, Caras was unhappy that Moldovan clubs Zimbru and Dacia refused their players permission to join up with the national team for friendlies against Venezuela and El Salvador in May, so has excluded players from those clubs from his squad.
Roy Hogdson has a depleted frontline to choose from, with both Wayne Rooney (leg) and Andy Carroll (hamstring) injured. Hodgson opted not to call up a replacement for the injured Carroll, so his options up front are limited to Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge.
In defence there are concerns over the fitness of John Terry, who missed Chelsea’s most recent match against Newcastle. If fit, Hodgson must decide whether to partner him alongside his European Championship partner Joleon Lescott, Chelsea team-mate Gary Cahill, or the in-form Phil Jagielka.
Ashley Cole (ankle) has been ruled out, though could yet feature against Ukraine on Tuesday with Everton's Leighton Baines is likely to deputise.
Hogdson may field Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard together for the first time in a competitive match since the 4-1 mauling at the hands of Germany in Bloemfontein.
Michael Carrick, who has not played a competitive match for England since making himself unavailable for selection last year, could also start. Meanwhile, the absence of Ashley Young (knee) and Adam Johnson (thigh) gives Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the opportunity to start on the left wing.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Moldova are ranked 141st in the world and 47th out of 53 in Europe. By contrast, England are ranked third in the world and Europe according to Fifa.
- Moldova have only faced England twice, in qualification for the France ’98 World Cup, and lost 3-0 at home in 1996 and 4-0 away in 1997.
- Moldova have not won a match or scored a goal in 2012. Their last victory came against Georgia in November 2011.
- Just six of Moldova's 23-man squad play their domestic club football in Moldova, whereas England's entire squad play in England.
- England were unbeaten in qualification for the 2012 European Championship, and have not lost a qualification match since being beaten by Ukraine 1-0 in 2009.
- If Jermain Defoe (pictured right) plays, it will be the Tottenham striker’s 50th cap for England. He has scored 16 goals in his previous 49 games (including against Italy in England's last match).
- The last time England travelled to Moldova, in September 1996, Glen Hoddle was making his England managerial debut and David Beckham was handed his first cap for the national side.
- Since Roy Hodgson took over as England manager, the team have been unbeaten in normal time. England have won five games and drawn two under Hodgson.
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Top 3 Predictions
Moldova 0-2 England
- 19.54 %
Moldova 0-3 England
- 16.57 %
Moldova 1-3 England
- 8.78 %
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) (WCQE)||6 Sep 2013||England 4 - Moldova 0|
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Europe) (WCQE)||7 Sep 2012||Moldova 0 - England 5|
|5 Mar 2014||Andorra 0 - Moldova 3||FR|
|20 Jan 2014||Moldova 0 - Poland 1||FR|
|17 Jan 2014||Moldova 1 - Sweden 2||FR|
|15 Jan 2014||Moldova 1 - Norway 2||FR|
|18 Nov 2013||Moldova 1 - Lithuania 1||FR|
The Dinamo Moscow defender is the captain of Moldova and a former Moldovan Player of the Year. Unlike many of his team-mates, he plays his club football in the top tier of Russian football and has plenty of experience against world class forwards, facing the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Seydou Doumbia. Epureanu's ability, experience and leadership could be the difference between an embarrassing loss and a heroic win.
In the absence of his Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck is likely to be called upon to lead the line. The tall forward scored twice for England over the summer (against Belgium and Sweden) and will want to use this platform to stake a claim for a place in both the international team and his domestic club. A willing and pacy runner, Welbeck presents a variety of threats and his aerial presence especially could cause problems for Moldova.
There are 138 places separating England and Moldova in the world rankings, so this match should be a formality for the Three Lions. England ought to have too much quality for the home team to contend with, even in spite of a deluge of injuries. The pace and directness of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck could cause problems for Moldova on the break, while Gerrard's set-piece delivery and the aerial threat of England's centre-backs will worry the home side's defence.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed