ENGLAND vs WALES
ENGLAND captain John Terry admits his side must make Wembley a fortress again starting with tonight’s European Championship qualifier against Wales.
Fabio Capello’s side have been in fine, free-scoring form away from home in their bid to reach Poland and Ukraine next summer, but have stumbled in front of their own fans.
Aside from the 4-0 drubbing of Bulgaria at the outset of the qualifying campaign, England stuttered to a disappointing goalless draw against Montenegro, and two defensive howlers meant they were forced to battle back from 2-0 down to earn a point against Switzerland back in May.
Moreover, England have failed to win any of their previous four games at Wembley but Terry insists England aren’t suffering from stage fright and are ready to reverse the recent trend against Wales.
“People can look too much into that, (the home form),” he said. “I have gone long spells at home without winning, it chops and changes and its just one of those things we are going through. It would be nice to change that sooner rather than later.”
The fixture follows Wales’ first win of the qualifying campaign – a 2-1 victory over England’s only rivals for top spot in Group G Montenegro – and Terry believes there will be no repeat showing of the straightforward win they enjoyed over the Welsh back in March.
“I think it will be very different from the last game,” he said.
“We got off to a good start then but we are expecting a tough game tomorrow night and they will be full of confidence after their win.
“Everyone (the players) will probably know each other inside out, ideally it would be nice to get off to a good start like we did in Bulgaria but that doesn’t always happen but it is important the fans stay with us.”
England manager Capello was also impressed by the way Speed’s men applied themselves against Montenegro, when goals from Steve Morison and Aaron Ramsey secured victory, and knows they will represent a genuine threat this evening.
“It’s very important to win tomorrow and beat Wales,” Capello said. “Wales are in really good form.
“It will be a really, really dangerous game tomorrow.
“Probably we can change the style to a different style to the one we played against Bulgaria because tomorrow we are playing at home.”
MATCH FOCUS | ENGLAND V WALES
At Wembley Stadium
Live on ITV1 from 19.00
England have dominated this fixture in the past, winning eight of the 13 previous meetings. The Three Lions have won the last three clashes without even conceding a goal. Wales have won only once at Wembley back in 1977 when a Leighton James penalty gave them a 1-0 win.
On their last meeting back in March an expectant home crowd packed the Millennium Stadium but their hopes were dashed inside the opening 14 minutes. Frank Lampard slotted home a seventh minute penalty before Darren Bent’s emphatic finish handed England a 2-0 win.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR EURO 2012
England will need a point from their last group match, at Montenegro on 7 October, to guarantee top spot and a place at next year’s finals regardless of what happens tonight. If Wales were to win at Wembley, England would need a win in Podgorica to qualify as group winners.
England manager Fabio Capello opted not to call up replacements for Aston Villa striker Darren Bent and Manchester City right-back Micah Richards, heightening the likelihood he’ll makes no changes to the team which won so impressively in Bulgaria last Friday.
Wales are likely to be severely hampered by the suspension of former captain Craig Bellamy, as well as Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan. Bolton defender Sam Ricketts is still recovering from Achilles surgery while Blackpool full-back Neal Eardley is out with broken fingers.
Flexibility hasn’t been the watchword of Fabio Capello’s reign but the Italian went some way to appeasing the masses with the 4-2-3-1 formation he employed in Sofia. Whether he’ll be brave enough to dispense with one of his holding midfielders for a game on home soil remains to be seen.
Wales were guilty of trying t overplay in the reverse fixture. Despite Gary Speed’s bravado, his side are likely to be more circumspect tonight. Gareth Bale played on the right against Montenegro but could revert back to his customary left-sided position and test the inexperienced Chris Smalling.