England have undoubtedly taken us through the mill thus far in the tournament, with a frustrating draw against Russia, and then making an absolute meal of the Wales game. Looking at the Group B table though it makes for perfectly acceptable reading and it’s hard to say that England haven’t played well so far. They have just been very "English" about the whole thing and made it harder than it needs to be.
Roy will undoubtedly make changes from the starting lineups he put out in the first two games, with Raheem Sterling being dropped to the bench being at the top of that order. Harry Kane is the second player who has been underperforming so far this tournament and it should be a straight trade with Vardy and Sturridge coming in.
I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a few other changes as Roy may look to rest a few players ahead of a last 16 clash. Rooney may well be rested in place of Jack Wilshire as well as Lallana who could get a well deserved rest in place of James Milner. I don’t expect any changes to the back 4 who have looked pretty solid so far.
As we all expected after Joe Hart’s howler against Gareth Bale, the media have of course gone into a drop Joe Hart frenzy, calling for Forster to get his spot. I don’t see this one happening at all though. Not that Fraser Forster wouldn’t be equally as solid as Hart, more that Roy is clearly the type of guy who keeps faith in his England regulars.
From a Slovakian point of view, they will of course look to danger man Marek Hamsik to be the difference. He's a player England should be well aware of after this rocket the other day.
There are so many possible permutations behind tonight’s game and who finishes where in other groups. Let's break it down as simply as possible though, and make a few predictions in other groups.
England win and top the group – If England win, then we are guaranteed to win the group, regardless of what happens in the Wales game. This would mean playing whoever finished strongest 3rd in either groups A, C or D, which at the minute is looking like Albania, Northern Ireland, Czech Republic or Turkey. Either way, England would certainly expect to beat any of these 4 teams.
England draw and finish second – If England draw, then the Wales game comes into play. If Wales fail to win, then we still finish top and the permutations above still apply. Assuming Wales win though and England finish second on 5 points, then we will play the runner up in group F, simple. This would also quite simply be the winner of Belgium and Sweden’s final group game. I would personally still expect England to beat either of these, but topping the group would definitely lead to an easier last 16 game.
England lose and finish third - I’m not even going to entertain the idea that England will lose this game. Mainly because then it gets really complicated and we will have to hope 4 points is enough to make us one of the best 3rd place teams (which it probably will). As for who we would play though, God only knows, and hopefully someone at UEFA knows too.
Prediction – As long as England start as they finished against Wales, then the victory should be safe. It won’t be a walk in the park though, and given how close most of our games have been so far, I’m going for 2-1 to England. (Probably a Jamie Vardy goal in there too.)