Marcus Braddock previews tonights U21 game
It's time for international football this week at the Greenhous Meadow, with the England Under-21 team facing San Marino in the European championship. The match will be the first time Shrewsbury has hosted an England under-21s international, having already been the venue for the men's under 19's, the full England women’s team and the men's under 20s. So far in the competition, England have enjoyed a rich vein of form and are unbeaten so far with a record of four wins and one draw, which puts them at the top of the group by 3 points with a game in hand. In contrast, San Marino are bottom of the group, 4 points adrift and having played one more game than the five teams above them. But San Marino under 21 team are not necessarily the push over’s that one would think, having recorded a home win against Wales in September and having only lost to Lithuania by one goal both home and away. Having said that, in the previous meeting between England Under-21's and San Marino under-21, England comfortably won by four goals to none. Last Thursday England won 3-0 against Finland in Milton Keynes, with a goal from Manchester United's Michael Keane and two from West Brom's Saido Berahino. The following day, San Marino lost by two goals to nil in Moldova, their 3rd defeat in a row.
Form (most recent first)
San Marino LLLWL
West Brom's Saido Berahino leads the way in the five European Championship games so far with four goals. The Burundi born Striker is in the form of his short first team career for West Brom with two premiership goals including one against Manchester United. He's also scored a goal against arsenal and a hat-trick against Newport County in the League cup this season. Pretty good, especially as he has only started four games for the Baggies this season! Unfortunately he won’t be in action this evening after picking up a booking in the last game for displaying a message on his under shirt.
Squad (as listed against Finland)
1 Jack Butland ( Stoke City ) , 2 Carl Jenkinson ( Arsenal ), 3 Luke Shaw ( Southampton ), 4 Nathaniel Chalobah ( Chelsea ) , 5 John Stones ( Everton ), 6 Michael Keane ( Manchester United ), 7 Wilfried Zaha ( Manchester United ) , 8 James Ward-Prowse ( Southampton ), 9 Saido Berahino ( WBA ), 10 Ravel Morrison ( West Ham ), 11 Raheem Sterling ( Liverpool ).
12 Jack Robinson ( Liverpool ), 13 George Long ( Sheffield United ), 14 Eric Dier ( Sporting Lisbon ), 15 Will Hughes ( Derby County ), 16 Jesse Lingard ( Manchester United ), 17 Tom Ince ( Blackpool ),18 Danny Ings ( Burnley ).
When I write the weekly preview for Shrewsbury Town I pride myself on being 100% biased toward the Town and it's going to be no different with England. Whilst I don't want to show any disrespect to San Marino, it's fair to say that there have been some high scoring victories for the home side which will factor in my forecast. As I mentioned earlier, Saido Berahino is in great form and I certainly wouldn't back against him continuing in that vein. It's not the Saido Berahino show though, sharing striking duties on Thursday was Wilfred Zaha, who already has England senior caps. But manager Gareth Southgate is expected to make some changes to the side that beat Finland 3-0, so we may not see either player start the game. Southgate has also warned against complacency in what is seen as one of the easier games in this group, and wants to see his players do the simple things well to make sure of the win. Personally, I'm rather complacent and the simple thing for me to do is predict a 3-0 win for England!!!