England v Romania: Three Lions to sign off with a victory

Paul Higham thinks England will earn another battling victory over Romania on Sunday, and may even have some penalty practice ahead of Euro 2020...

England look to head to the Euros in style

It's the final chance Gareth Southgate will get to run the rule over his players, perhaps play his preferred shape and selection for their opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia on Sunday 13 June.

England kick-off the tournament with their hardest group game on paper (sorry Scotland) so they'll have to hit the ground running, most likely without Harry Maguire, so Southgate will have to nail his defensive shape against Romania.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's injury has thrown a spanner into the works, and Southgate will wait until after this game before naming his replacement in the squad - with no doubt his fingers and toes crossed that all his player get through unscathed.

Now the big decision is how much involvement the Man City and Chelsea contingent will have after their Champions League exertions. Southgate will want to see them in action but that Alexander-Arnold injury may scare him into playing it safe.

Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham were the big winners against Austria, with their prices of starting against Croatia being cut to 7/4 and 11/4 respectively after their impressive displays gave Southgate food for thought.

Romania's surprisingly great record v England

Mirel Radoi's side may not be taking part in Euro 2020 and are big underdogs, but Romania have actually only lost two of their 11 games against the Three Lions (W3 D6) - with the last defeat coming at the 1970 World Cup.

Romania are unbeaten in their last seven against England and one more will equal England's longest winless run against European opposition. The visitors are also unbeaten on English soil, with all four previous meetings being draws and all four having under 2.5 goals in them.

England have played more home games against Romania without a win than any other side in world football, but although those stats are nice, it's all history with the last meeting coming 21 years ago.

The 'Tricolorii' are not the side they once were - they've lost three in a row including defeats against Armenia and Georgia and have kept just one clean sheet in 15. They're ranked 43 in the world and should find this tough going at the Riverside.

Austria provided tough opposition on Wednesday, and Romania look likely to give England another rough ride having had a man sent off in their last two games.

England need to sharpen up their defence

You can stay away from the match result odds with England overwhelming 1.22 favourites, and nothing about Romania's recent form suggests a huge upset is in the offing, with the away win at 11.0 and even the draw unlikely at 6.0.

Austria did have chances though, especially late on when they really should have scored - and that's even without any hint of sour grapes having backed both teams to find the net on Wednesday!

And Romania have shown themselves to be capable of scoring, having been involved in some goalfests of late, and having had over 2.5 goals in nine of their last 10 away games. They can struggle against the better sides though and five of England's last six wins have been accompanied by a clean sheet.

Both teams to score at 2.1 and is tempting again given how dodgy England looked at the back at times, but you'd have to think they'll improve with some of their big players back and Southgate may even test out his three at the back formation.

An England win to nil is more likely at 1.91.

Feisty visitors could pay the penalty

Austria held England for the first half, and Romania to get to the break level is an interesting shout here at 2.63 given Southgate will likely make a host of changes to his team.

Games involving Romania have been second-half thrillers of late too, with 14 of the 16 goals in their last five encounters all coming after the interval.

Austria produced some tasty challenges on Wednesday and Romania aren't shy about doing the same, and along with the two red cards they've also conceded two penalties in their last two games and three in six. Referee Tiago Martins pointed to the spot three times in his last two games in the Portuguese league.

Everywhere you look in this England squad there are players who can run with the ball, so with the possibility of the likes of Sancho, Sterling, Grealish, Foden, Saka and Mount making runs into the box then 3.5 on England to score a penalty looks a decent enough price.

Just a penalty to be awarded to either side is 2.4 but you have to think the hosts are worth backing for the extra value.

Player-wise there's no real value in the England strikers netting, and while plenty of players should get an opportunity to get some minutes, Mason Mount with two goals in his last four for his country makes most appeal.

He's been England's best player of late and 2.75 on him to score anytime looks the pick of the prices if he gets a start.

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