Albania vs England: Three Lions looking for second win in three days

Gareth Southgate's England side travel to Albania on Sunday looking to continue their 100% win record against their opponents.

When: Sunday, March 28, 17:00 GMT

How to watch: ITV

Best bets

England to win 3-0 is at 7/1 (Betfred)

Harry Kane to score two or more goals at 15/4 (William Hill)

Mason Mount to score anytime 7/2 (Sky Bet)

A tougher test than San Marino

England overcame San Marino 5-0 on Thursday night with the minimum of fuss. Two goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and one apiece for James Ward-Prowse, Raheem Sterling and Ollie Watkins on his international debut.

Gareth Southgate and his squad will be expecting a more testing game against Albania. They travel to Albania for the game on Sunday and will play less than 72 hours after the victory at Wembley against San Marino.

There had been safety fears over the fixture and it was in doubt until the Albanian FA confirmed on Thursday that the game would go ahead.

England's opponents on Sunday faced Andorra in their first FIFA World Cup qualification match of the campaign, and came away with a narrow 1-0 win. They dominated possession but a single goal from left wing-back Ermir Lenjani saw them limp to a one-goal victory.

Albania, ranked 66th in the current world standings, will provide Southgate with more problems to think about, but a win for the Three Lions is the minimum expectation in Tirana.

England are 3/10 to win with Unibet.

Last three meetings:

England 2-0 Albania (September 5, 2001)

Considering the games either side of this victory were the 5-1 demolition of Germany and the last-gasp 2-2 draw against Greece, when David Beckham curled in a free-kick at the death, this match is perhaps not well remembered by all England fans.

However, if England were to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan, the result of this match held just as high importance as the other two games.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side were suffering a hangover from the euphoria of Germany and struggled to make a meaningful impact in the early exchanges.

After long periods of frustration England took the lead with a couple of moments of technical beauty. Paul Scholes played a long-range pass over the top of the Albanian defence and although Michael Owen still had a lot to do, the clinical Liverpool forward volleyed the ball past the goalkeeper, making it 1-0 to England.

The second half was not too dissimilar, as the Three Lions dominated but failed to make the game safe until the 88th minute. Substitute Robbie Fowler, who had yet to show his talent on the international stage, nutmegged one defender before going through against the goalkeeper and chipping it over him to score another brilliant goal.

Albania 1-3 England (March 28, 2001)

Ironically, England will play away in Albania again exactly 20 years on from this meeting in 2001, and will look to secure a similar result.

Albania defended excellently for the first 73 minutes of the game until Paul Scholes threaded a ball through to Michael Owen, who once again finished expertly. It was a huge goal for the away team, boosting their World Cup qualification hopes.

In a game that Ashley Cole was handed his international debut, Andy Cole and Paul Scholes combined to seemingly put the game out of Albania's reach. However, a defensive mistake and a quickly taken throw-in led to the home team getting a goal back in added time to give them hope.

Albania, though, could not capitalise and England ensured they would take all three points when a low cross from Emile Heskey was converted by fellow striker Andy Cole, for his first international goal.

England 5-0 Albania (April 26, 1989)

In the second meeting of the two teams, England would once again come out on top, winning 5-0 at Wembley Stadium.

Gary Lineker ended a goal drought of nearly a year, when he scored a free header past Albania's 17-year-old goalkeeper in the fifth minute.

The Barcelona forward then turned provider for goals two and three, setting up Peter Beardsley on both occasions. The first assist saw Lineker spin past a defender and passing low from a wide position giving Beardsley time to pick a finish. Then Lineker set the ball back for his strike partner, who tucked away yet another simple chance.

The 60,000 fans celebrated again shortly after when the Three Lions made it four. Substitute Paul Gascoigne headed the ball back across goal, leaving Tottenham team-mate Chris Waddle to score into an empty net.

Gascoigne himself got on the England score sheet for the first time. He did so with a typical dribble through the defence and a finish to match the move from the talented midfielder, wrapping up the win for Bobby Robson's men.

Head-to-head:

Played: 4

England won: 4

Drawn: 0

Albania won: 0

England scored: 12

Albania scored: 1

Squad rotation the key to success?

As expected, Gareth Southgate named a team missing several key players for the game against San Marino. England play three games in less than a week and with the congested fixture list, it made sense to rotate his squad.

Nick Pope started in goal and this signals that the Burnley player is Southgate's number one choice of the goalkeepers available. Reece James had an excellent first half and was replaced at half-time by Kieran Trippier and the Chelsea right-back is expected to start in Albania.

In the centre of defence, Southgate is likely to pair Harry Maguire with John Stones and Ben Chilwell caught the eye with an all-action display at left-back. With the in-form Luke Shaw sitting out the San Marino game, the England manager has a tough call to make.

Declan Rice is most likely to replace Kalvin Phillips in midfield after Phillips played the full 90 minutes on Thursday night. Both James Ward-Prowse and Mason Mount impressed at Wembley, with Ward-Prowse netting his first England goal and Mount breaking a European World Cup qualifier record - creating eight chances in just 45 minutes. The record stood for 13 years and was previously held by Spanish icon Xavi.

Southgate's toughest decision is without doubt in attacking areas. Raheem Sterling seems certain to start in Tirana after captaining the side for the opening 45 minutes. Harry Kane will be desperate to play after being rested in midweek and not being able to add to his impressive international record with 32 goals in 51 caps.

West Ham loanee Jesse Lingard played the full match against San Marino, impressing with his movement and passing, although it may not be enough to earn him a starting spot. If Southgate opts for two strikers, Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins have both done their chances no harm after netting in the victory and are in excellent form. Other subs from midweek Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham will also be pushing to start in an extremely competitive squad.

Score prediction: Albania 0-3 England

England will name a stronger line-up than the side that faced San Marino and with Albania struggling to get past Andorra comfortably, the Three Lions are expected to put on a good show.

The likely return of captain Kane will bolster England's attack and if the attacking movement is anywhere near the standard of Thursday night, Southgate's team will be more than a handful for Albania to cope with.

England are 20/21 to win to nil with BetVictor.

Goalscorer bets

Harry Kane will be confident of adding to his England tally and he is 15/4 to score two or more goals with William Hill.

Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount was a constant threat against San Marino and will look to add to that performance with a goal on Sunday.

Mount is 7/2 to score anytime with SkyBet or 9/1 to score the first goal.

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