England failed to deliver in the Euro Cup 2016, where they were shown the doors by Iceland in the round of 16. As a result, manager Roy Hodgson quit his job, and Sam Allardyce was appointed as the new boss of England side. The former Sunderland manager will be in charge of his first match at City Arena in Trnava against Slovakia in the World Cup qualifiers on Sunday.
England are involved in Group F of the World Cup qualifiers (Europe), which includes Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta. England and Slovakia are playing their first match in the qualifiers, and both the teams will be aware of the importance of a good start on Sunday.
Allardyce already announced his team on Friday, which will witness eight of the 11 players, who were in the starting XI against Iceland in their last loss, start against Slovakia. The manager does not want to think too long ahead -- 2018 FIFA World Cup -- and just focus on Slovakia in the first match, as of now.
"It's so far away at the moment, that tournament, I can only focus on this game. Hopefully the fans who are here will go home very happy with what they see and those back home watching on television will turn off the telly saying: 'England are back on track and looked great'," Guardian quoted Allardyce as saying.
Harry Kane will lead the attack, with Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney as other offensive players. Though there are not many changes in personnel, England fans will hope for better team strategies under Allardyce. All these players were involved in that painful loss to Iceland in the Euro 2016, and this match against Slovakia gives them a great chance to lift the spirit of the fans as well.
"The nation was proud of the team up to the Iceland game. It was only that result which turned everyone against them. It was a hugely disappointing result for everyone, and none more so than them [the players]. Everyone involved in England hurt that night, but the players more than anyone else."
Despite that defeat to Iceland, England, no doubt, are one of the strongest teams in the world, and should not have much problem in getting past Slovakia in the opening encounter. If all the England players gel as a unit on Sunday, English fans will have a big reason to cheer.
However, they cannot afford to take Slovakia lightly. They are a good European side, and their players always gives it their all in the competition. Slovakia and England were involved in the same group in Euro 2016, and the match resulted in a goalless draw, as the English forwards could not break Slovakia's defence.
Slovakia will be a tough nut to crack and with players like Martin Skrtel being solid at the back. The former Liverpool player knows many of the England players' weakness and strengths, which will come in handy on Sunday. They will also look for Marek Hamsik and his brilliant offensive play to stun England.
Where to watch live
Slovakia vs England World Cup qualifiers is scheduled for 6 p.m local time (9:30 p.m IST,5 p.m BST) start. TV and live streaming options can be found below.
India - TV: Sony Six/HD. Live Streaming: Sonyliv
UK: TV: ITV 1 UK. Live Streaming: ITV Online
Slovakia: TV: STV1 Jednotka
US: ESPN 3 USA. Live Streaming: Watch ESPN.
South Africa: TV: Startimes World Football