England vs. San Marino Betting Preview: Can the Three Lions Cover a -7 Handicap?

By Martin Green22 March 2021
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You will have to give England a seven-goal handicap if you want to unlock any value when betting on their game against San Marino this week.

The Three Lions are best priced at just 1/100 (1.01) to beat the minnows of San Marino when they meet at Wembley on Thursday. You can give them a -5.5 Asian handicap, but that only gets you odds of 4/11 (1.36) with 888 Sport.

If you want real value, you have to go to -7 on the Asian handicap, which is priced at 28/29 (1.97) with MansionBet and 10/11 (1.91) with 888 Sport. Can England cover such an enormous handicap line?

Head-to-Head Record

The history books suggest they will struggle to pull it off. San Marino is a tiny country, with a population of just 33,860. That would not even fill half of Wembley Stadium. Their national team is made up of amateurs that normally work as accountants, bartenders and removal men. However, they have only lost by eight goals on one occasion when playing England.

It finished 6-0 to the Three Lions when they played the Sammarinese in a 1993 World Cup qualifier. England won the away fixture 7-1 later that year.

They were drawn in the same World Cup qualifying group in 2012, and England won 5-0 at home and 8-0 away. Jermain Defoe scored twice in that game, and there were further goals for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ashley Young, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, plus an own-goal from Alessandro Della Valle.

They also played one another in the Euro 2016 qualification campaign, which saw England win 5-0 at Wembley and 6-0 in San Marino.

A Wealth of Attacking Talent

England will therefore need to match or better their record win against San Marino when they play on Thursday. If they win by seven goals, you get your money back, but they need to win by eight goals to generate a profit.

San Marino are rock bottom of the FIFA world rankings, below the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla. They just finished bottom of a UEFA Nations League D group that also featured Gibraltar and Liechtenstein.

England’s team is packed full of superstars, and their greatest strength is in attack. Manager Gareth Southgate has called up Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Bukayo Saka and Ollie Watkins. They should be able to cause nightmares for any defence in the world, let alone San Marino.

Jack Grealish and James Maddison are injured, but Mason Mount and Phil Foden are highly creative players, so that should not be an issue. You would expect England to dominate the game, but it remains to be seen how emphatic the scoreline will be.

Competition for Places

One thing that bodes well for a heavy England win is competition for places in the squad. The Euros will begin in a few months, and England are the favourites to win the tournament, so the country’s leading forwards will be desperate to secure a place in the squad.

The likes of Kane, Sterling and Rashford should be guaranteed a place, but the same cannot be said for Calvert-Lewin, Saka and Watkins. Mount and Foden also cannot afford to be complacent. Danny Ings, Jadon Sancho, Harvey Barnes, Mason Greenwood and Grealish will all vie for a place in the Euros squad, while Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse will be desperate to impress if given a chance against San Marino.

That could spell bad news for the visitors. England are unlikely to concede. They have kept clean sheets in five of their six matches against San Marino, and they should dominate possession. However, England to win to nil is just 1/14 (1.07).

You need to see a blitz of goals from England’s forwards if they are to cover the -7 spread. If you think they can pull it off, the odds are appealing. Belgium and Russia have both beaten San Marino 9-0 in the past two years, and with the wealth of firepower in this England squad, the Three Lions look well priced to repeat the feat on Thursday.