England usually produce one brilliant performance just before we wave them off to a major tournament believing they’ve truly got a chance of going all the way – Austria certainly wasn’t it, so their clash with Romania this Sunday should be a cracker.
The Three Lions struggled against Franco Foda’s side at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday evening, though with so many key players missing and in unfamiliar surroundings it was to be expected in a way.
Gareth Southgate’s side have won all of their last five games – conceding just one goal in the process – and keeping that run going against Romania would be a great way to head into this summer’s delayed Euro 2020 finals.
So, without further ado, here’s 90min’s preview of the upcoming clash…
What time is kick-off? Sunday 6 June – 17:00 (BST)
Where is the game being played? Riverside Stadium
How to watch on TV? ITV
Southgate welcomes back some of the players missing from the win over Austria for this Sunday’s friendly, though it’s tough to call whether he’ll start his strongest possible squad or give run outs to the players missing from Wednesday’s game.
There’s still a couple of injury doubts with Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson struggling for fitness, while there’ll of course be no Trent Alexander-Arnold after he was forced to withdraw from this summer’s tournament through injury.
Few would have expected Jude Bellingham to be in the starting XI in England’s first game against Croatia in under a week’s time, but his stellar display against Austria may mean he’s given one last chance to impress and cement his place in the team.
Romania boss Mirel Radoi has no such injury issues heading into the clash at the Riverside, though he will be without the suspended Florin Tanase after he was sent off in his side’s defeat to Georgia on Wednesday.
There’ll be a number of players in the Romania squad hoping to be handed their international debut this weekend including Florian Iacob, Tiberiu Capusa, Adrian Paun and Olimpiu Morutan.
England: Henderson; Trippier, Coady, Mings, Shaw; Phillips, Bellingham, Grealish; Sancho, Calvert-Lewin, Saka.
Romania: Nita; Sorescu, Chiriches, Nedelcearu, Ganea; Budescu, Marin, Maxim; Hagi, Keseru, Stanciu.
Obviously the win over Austria wasn’t particularly entertaining and didn’t really showcase the immense attacking talent in the England squad, though you’d fancy the side to look a little more settled after a few more days training together.
Surprisingly, Romania boast a better record than England in the pair’s previous encounters – with three wins to the Three Lions’ two – though this Sunday should in theory be a home banker.
There’ll undoubtedly still be some cobwebs to shake off as players look to familiarise themselves with their international teammates once again, but England should have enough to see themselves over the line.
Prediction: England 2-0 Romania