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Montenegro vs England Preview

Slated as the most critical game of England's World Cup qualifying campaign thus far, Diamond Football gives you our thoughts and an in depth preview to tonight's fixture - Montenegro vs England.

Yesterday we published a guide to the different ways in which teams can qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In it, we explained the fragility of some of the elite in Europe's chances of progressing to the Finals- if England were to finish second they run the risk of having to face the likes of Spain and Sweden in a play-off.

England currently sit second in Group H, two points adrift from tonight's oppenents, Montenegro. The Three Lions have 11 points, whilst the group leaders stand aloft with 13. With a win England will overtake Montenegro, if we lost they would stretch the lead to 5 points. A draw would not be helpful to the cause either.

A must win tie? Almost certainly.

If England's fate is to be left in their own hands, we will need to beat Montenegro. If we lose or draw, for that matter, then England's chances of qualifying automatically by finishing top of the group will be dependent on one of the other teams in the group beating Montenegro.

So what are England's chances in Montenegro?

Coming off the back of our biggest win in 26 years against lowly San Marino, the England players should be full of confidence. The plumbers, school teachers and office workers that filled the San Marino team were ripped apart by England's selection of Premiership stars- the game ending 0 - 8.

However, tonight's opponents will be no push-overs- Montenegro also beat San Marino away from home by six goals to nil. If Friday's fixture was a walk in the park, then tonight's game will be something resembling a bull fight.

The Montenegro fans will be in full force. They are a loud, passionate bunch who do their upmost to create an uneasy welcome for every foe that visits the Podgorica City Stadium. Along with this, you have to consider the last game where Rooney was sent off for violent conduct.

You also need to take into account England's injury woe. Yes, we will be missing Jack Wilshere. But our biggest problem is at centre back- a make shift pairing of Lescott and Smalling. On Friday they were not tested at all, tonight we predict there will be plenty of pressure to endure.

The two previous ties between England and Montenegro ended in draws. However after Friday's impressive display and England's critical position in the group, we expect England to go all out for the win.

One last thing to note, however. If England want to be seen as true challengers for the World Cup in 2014 and prove they are a team worthy of the FIFA world ranking of 4th, then shouldn't we be pushing sides like Montenegro (who rank 28) aside with ease?

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