Malta fact file: Everything you need to know about England's opponents at Wembley on Saturday

Joe Hall
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Gareth Southgate should enjoy a comfortable first game in charge against Malta (Source: Getty)

As far as easy starts go, England caretaker boss Gareth Southgate couldn't have hoped for a better opponent than Malta for his first game in charge. The Three Lions' opponents are 50/1 outsiders to cause an upset at Wembley this weekend.

Read more: Southgate has chance to stake claim for England manager's job on permanent basis, insists Rooney

Are they any good?

Fifa currently ranks Malta 176th in the world, below Lesotho, South Sudan, Tahiti and Suriname. But then who are England to judge? Malta only conceded one goal the last time they met Iceland.

Their World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a relatively inauspicious start with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Scotland. Yet despite being without a win in 11, "The Falcons" are well organised enough — manager Pietro Ghedin favours five at the back — to avoid the hammerings routinely handed out to some of their fellow European minnows.

In qualifying for Euro 2016, Antonio Conte's Italy could only beat them by a single goal.

Any decent players?

Mifsud celebrates scoring at Old Trafford for Coventry (Source: Getty)

Most familiar to English fans will be Michael Mifsud who once got the better of a Manchester United defence comprising of Champions League winner Jonny Evans, World Cup winner Gerard Pique and Premier League winner Danny Simpson with a winning goal at Old Trafford for Coventry in the 2007 League Cup. He was christened "Il Messi di Malta" by Italian paper La Gazetta Dello Sport for the performance.

Wayne Rooney is the only member of the England squad to have scored more international goals than Mifsud's 40, but at 35 the striker is likely to start this one on the bench.

All but two of Malta's players play in the domestic league.

Have we played them before?

David Beckham in Malta for a Euro 2000 warm-up match (Source: Getty)

Yes. Played three, won three. Although it hasn't always been straight forward.

England eked out a 2-1 win the last time these two sides met in a friendly match ahead of Euro 2000. Current caretaker manager Gareth Southgate was on the pitch as Emile Heskey wrote the first chapter in his storied career with a 75th minute winner. Malta's goal came from a penalty that cannoned off the bar and went in off the back of keeper Richard Wright's head.

"If we play like that in Euro 2000 we'll be on the first plane home," manager at the time Kevin Keegan said, correctly.

Who's the manager?


Former Lazio defender Pietro Ghedin has previous against England, having masterminded victories over the Three Lions twice before — as manager of Italy's women's team.

The Italian, who first managed Malta between 1993 and 1995, is perhaps the team's greatest ever manager with six wins since taking over for a second stint four years ago — more than any previous coach has managed before him and as many as the last three coaches combined could muster over eight years.

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