England know Vucinic but not Montenegro

Little Montenegro keep clean sheets.

Three 1-0 wins have put them top of Group G.

Coached by Nico Kranjcar’s dad, who took over in February, the newest nation in European football now top Group G.

How small is little? Well, Montenegro’s population is only 650,000. They declared their independence from Serbia as recently as June 3rd, 2006. Then they were admitted into Fifa.

Mirko Vucinic is a six foot striker with Brazilian artistry.

He has scored 53 goals in 161 games for Roma, according to the last stat I saw.

He scored two against Chelsea in the Champions League and one against Manchester United. Two weeks ago, at home to champions Inter, Vucinic came off the bench when it was 0-0 and scored Roma’s winner with a diving header in stoppage time.

Slim, stealthy and fast, Vucinic is a natural predator, a stylish player with very good balance and technique. His shooting is very, very precise. It’s surgical. He hits the ball early and hard and low. He can also score from free-kicks.On a bad night he looks powderpuff. On a good night he’s a stiletto.

My most reckless guess  is: if you stop Vucinic, you stop Montenegro.

But, clearly, it’s a team game and we do not know much about the rest of their team. I will be finding out about Montenegro at the same time as you and Ashley Cole, Glenn Johnson, Stevie G and the others.

As I say, Montenegro have had three 1-0 wins. That is the main thing we know. Until Tuesday night, that’s what we judge them on.

They’re newcomers to the big time and hope to finish second in the group, or say they do. Their approach, at least in the first half, will be one of tactical discipline. If England score an early goal, their opponents will not throw six players forward to get the goal back. It’s likely to be a game of cat-and mouse.Their goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic had to make some good saves against Switzerland before Vucinic scored the winner with 22 minutes left..

If England play with reasonable verve and don’t drop clangers, they can beat Montenegro by two goals.

If they stutter, it could a long night. If the starting eleven can’t open Montenegro up, Jack Wilshere may come on.

If Bolton striker Kevin Davies plays, I hope he’s luckier than Bobby Zamora was.

Will Rooney be any good? I don’t know. We’re in new territory right now.

Amazingly, Sir Alex said : Wayne won’t play at Sunderland but he can play for England if he wants.

Bloody hell! He can play for England if he wants? That’s a different approach.

Let’s wait and see. It’s Engerland, so don’t expect too much.

Rio will be captain, partnered by Lescott. Terry has a back injury. Same back injury JT sustained in that go-kart crash a few years ago?

After the fiasco in South Africa, I’ll never bet on England again.

Fabio Capello had a shocking World Cup and never told us why we were so abysmal. He now seems to be damaged, stroppy, more distant than ever.

I’m apprehensive every time England play now.This summer told us that our finest footballers are small men who earn big money.

Will Euro 2012 qualifying be a cakewalk, as 2010 qualifying was? It’s actually still possible. 

But only if England play well and beat Montenegro. Only a win will do. It’s at Wembley. They’ve had five days to prepare. Only a win will do.

Big week for Capello, then.

Even bigger week for Liverpool FC. Yanks want to buy the club from Yanks.