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England v North Macedonia preview: Three Lions to maintain perfect start

Having finished runners-up to Italy at Euro 2020, England will have high hopes of going one better at Euro 2024 and they have made the perfect start to their qualifying campaign in Group C.

The Three Lions are out on their own at the top of the standings, having won their opening three assignments against Italy, Ukraine and Malta, and more success looks set to follow at the expense of North Macedonia at Old Trafford.

Gareth Southgate's troops were convincing 4-0 winners in Malta on Friday evening and they are 1/8 to have the measure of their latest opponents North Macedonia, who are 18/1 to spring a surprise on their trip to Manchester.

WhatEngland v North Macedonia
WhereOld Trafford, Manchester
When19:45, Monday 19th June, 2023
How to watchChannel 4
OddsEngland 1/8, Draw 7/1, North Macedonia 18/1

England making light work of Group C competition

Having already accounted for their two main rivals in Group C in Ukraine and Italy, it would be a big surprise were England to falter on their latest venture at home to North Macedonia.

The Three Lions have won their opening three games in fine style to resume control of the section and they are now as short as 2/9 to top the group after Friday's routine 4-0 victory in Malta.

It was far from a vintage display from England but it didn't have to be against such mediocre opposition.

Two of the four goals came from the penalty spot - in the first half from Harry Kane and then late on in the second through his replacement Callum Wilson - while they had opened the scoring through an own goal from Maltese defender Ferdinando Apap.

Liverpool's Trend Alexander-Arnold, playing in a midfield position many want to see him deployed in on a more regular basis, was also on target in the triumph and his performance has given Southgate some food for thought for the future.

There was not much else to be learnt from that victory over minnows Malta but it does mean England have now kept clean sheets in five of their last seven internationals. 

Another home win to nil is understandably priced at 8/15, especially given North Macedonia have failed to score in three of their last five away games.

Of the five Manchester City players called up, Phil Foden was the only member to get minutes against Malta as he came off the bench for Bukayo Saka just after half-time.

On the back of City's treble celebrations, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Jack Grealish and Kavlin Phillips were unused substitutes, so they are expected to play some part in Monday's qualifier.

Chelsea's Conor Gallagher, who has been heavily linked with a move to Brighton, is another who will be hoping to be involved having also missed the chance to show his worth against Malta.

North Macedonia out to land the upset

North Macedonia will have fond memories of the goalless draw they clung onto in European qualification against England at Old Trafford in 2006, and will be hoping the return to Manchester United's home sparks another strong performance.

Igor Angelovski's side have improved since those days but so have England, who have become more consistent and more clinical since being led by Sven-Goran Eriksson.

North Macedonia got their Group C campaign up-and-running with a 2-1 victory at home to Malta but were beaten 3-2 when hosting Ukraine on Friday.

That is despite leading 2-0 up on the hour mark as the Ukrainians, helped by the red card of North Macedonia defender Visar Musliu, completed a dramatic turnaround.

That collapse would have done little to help their confidence ahead of their meeting with England, who have scored eight goals and conceded only one in their three games.

The visitors' only two clean sheets in their last 10 internationals have come against minnows Faroe Islands and Gibraltar.

England, likely to be spearheaded by Kane and Saka with Grealish or Rashford coming back into the team at the expense of James Maddison, should exploit those defensive frailties and it is 8/13 they win with over 2.5 goals.

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