When two nations that sit side-by-side take each other on the games usually have an added bite and you expect it to be far from one sided. Australia and New Zealand have been battling it out on the rugby field for years and the epic clashes between Canada and USA on the ice are often a joy to behold. England playing against the other three home nations is another proposition altogether though.
Saturday’s 2-0 win in Cardiff against Wales wasn’t so much routine as it was embarrassing for a Welsh side that could have been a collection of 11 random supporters from across the small nation – such was the level of performance. The game was only 15 minutes old when Darren Bent drove the ball into the roof of the net from two yards out after man of the match Ashley Young had earned the easiest assist he’ll ever register. This was after Frank Lampard had already put a fifth minute penalty away and meant that it was 2-0 before Wales even caught breath.
Betting on England in qualifiers is right now easier than chatting up girls in the centre of Amsterdam’s red light district. Under Italian disciplinarian Fabio Capello, England’s record in qualifiers reads: played 14, won 12, drawn one, lost one with 43 goals scored and only seven going in at the other end. It’s a remarkable record and just shows how much the team differs to when playing in international tournaments.
The opponents from Saturday, meanwhile, showed just how over reliant they currently are on Spurs winger Gareth Bale. England goalkeeper Joe Hart had his quietest afternoon in a while and save the first five minutes and booing of the national anthem the Welsh crowd was also eliminated early on.
The bookies were also rather happy at Saturday’s outcome, with William Hill spokesman Graeme Sharpe stating, “The majority of the corrrect score bets we took were for victories of 4-0 and upwards, so we are relieved that the goals petered out at two. Usually an England win equals bookie gloom, but we got off relatively lightly this time, particularly as a fair few punters fancied an upset win for Wales.”