Lothar Matthäus has always enjoyed playing against England, no surprise when you look at his playing record against the team currently ranked no. 4 in the world.
The question is can he coach a side to victory against England? His coaching record so far (and the team he has available) suggests not, of course a lot will depend on which England side turns up, the one that headed out to South Africa last year full of confidence or the one that came back with their tails bewteen their legs? A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since then though and this England side is composed of vastly different players with a few noteable names remaining.
With a heavy Mancunian bias, this squad is full of players who are at clubs in good form, Manchester United and their neighbours City would provide a strong starting XI on their own.
The squad is also full of young players, a few experienced players are still there to provide guidance and experience but you can start to see the future in Englands young guns and it’s looking quite positive. Players like Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones have shown themselves capable of making it in the Premiership over the last year and their step up to the full England side looks timely. Though I don’t expect many of them to start this game, their time will come.
How will they fare against a largely unknown Bulgarian side though? With some experienced players of their own in Stiliyan Petrov and name-sake Martin, England should not head out to Bulgaria expecting an easy time of it. Perhaps if Matthäus had been able to persuade Dimitar Berbatov to end his early retirement from international football, England would have a tougher time Friday night but with the Manchester United player (so far) sticking to his guns and staying out of the picture, some of the lesser known players like Ivelin Popov to stand up and make their mark.
So, what bets stand out as having good value for the England game? Well, I’d say that Andy Carroll to score at any time at odds around 3.2 make good reading, his physical presence should fashion him a couple of chances and I expect him to stick at least one away. A half-time/full-time prediction of Draw/England can be had for 4.7 at Unibet right now and whilst that is sure to be seriously limited, lower odds like the 4.4 available at Betfair still look a good option. The odds on England winning outright are predictably mean but if you think Bulagaria could get a draw out of this (I don’t personally), then the 3.8 on offer at BWin isn’t too bad and if you’re into trading on Betfair, a slow England start could see their odds come in as the match goes on.
My team to play Bulgaria on Friday:
Micah Richards, Phil Jones, John Terry, Ashley Cole
Ashley Young, Scott Parker, Frank Lampard, Stewart Downing
Andy Carroll, Wayne Rooney
What would be in your starting XI?