After a disappointing draw in their last qualifier back in May against Switzerland, England rediscovered their early form shown in qualification for Euro 2012 on Friday night.
Their 3-0 win over Bulgaria in Sofia was impressive not only in it’s clinical nature but also in its professionalism.
A first-half brace from Wayne Rooney following Gary Cahill’s first goal for his country put the game beyond doubt before half-time.
Fabio Capello’s side could have shown a sign of complacency thinking that the game was won, but they didn’t give Bulgaria any chance of getting back into the game, seeing the second half out with consumate ease.
Of course, it should be noted that the Bulgarians provided feeble opposition – a stark contrast to the brilliant side of the mid-nineties that was spearheaded by the excellent Hristo Stoichkov.
But England can only beat what’s put in front of them, and it was pleasing to see them not only win but win with a real cutting edge.
The 4-2-3-1 formation functioned properly and effectively because everyone knew how to perform their roles within the team.
Joe Hart had very little to do with a defence that was relatively untroubled, although much credit should go to the holding midfield duo of Scott Parker and Gareth Barry, who protected the backline admirably.
This also allowed the attacking midfield trio of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Theo Walcott to wreak havoc with their pace and delivery, while Rooney led the line with the finesse that we always expect of him.
However, despite the renewed optimism, Capello will be only too aware that they should expect to face a greater test against Wales at Wembley on Tuesday evening.
At the very least there should be a greater contest than the one provided by the Welsh at the Millennium stadium back in March.
Gary Speed’s side were hugely disappointing in front of a passionate home crowd as two early goals from Frank Lampard and Darren Bent gave England a 2-0 win.
That was Speed’s first competitive game in charge and it has been tough going since with the side bottom of Group H.
However, there will be a buoyance within the squad following an impressive 2-1 home win over Montenegro on Friday night.
Goals from Steve Morrison and Aaron Ramsey gave them their first win of qualification, and it was a win that highlighted the importance of their influential trio.
Both Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy missed the match against England back in Cardiff, but they along with Ramsey pull the strings in the Welsh team.
They can cause anyone problems on their day with the pace of Bale, the creativity of Ramsey and the work rate and threat of Bellamy.
All three are expected to line-up against what should be an unchanged English 11, although Young’s knock sustained in Sofia could see Frank Lampard recalled after he was dropped from a competitive match for the first time since 2007.
Wales’ win on Friday also gave England a stranglehold on the group, as it meant they gained a three-point lead over nearest rivals Montenegro.
A win on Tuesday will give the Three Lions a six-point lead with Zlatko Krancjar’s side left with just two more games to play.
For Capello and England, the need to build on what they did in Bulgaria will be crucial to quell the threat of the Welsh and put one foot in the qualification door for Poland & Ukraine next summer.
So what do you think? Will the Welsh trio of Bale, Ramsey and Bellamy cause England real problems? Or will Fabio Capello’s side prove too strong and take a big step in qualifying for Euro 2012? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.
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