Malta vs England Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

England will hope to continue the strong start to the UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifiers when they take on Malta at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Friday.

The long-winding club season might have finally ended. But a few international games remain before the players can put their feet up and embark on their holidays. Meanwhile, England will be in action on Friday when they lock horns with Malta at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Friday evening.

Malta will be the whipping boys in a tough group that contains a few heavy hitters. So it is hardly surprising they have lost their first two Group C games, conceding twice in each match. But they have bounced back to winning ways this month, beating fellow minnows Luxembourg 1-0 in a friendly last week.

On the other hand, England will be the odds-on favourite to top Group C after beating Italy in Naples in March. The Three Lions have lost just one of their last eight games in all competitions. And after a disastrous UEFA Nations League campaign, they will be eager to seal a berth in the UEFA Euro 2024 without any hiccups.

Malta and England have clashed five times thus far, with the Three Lions winning each game. The most recent match-up came in September 2017, with England cruising to a 4-0 win. And The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics


Michele Marcolini has made wholesale changes to the squad he picked for the international break in March. So James Brown, Teddy Teuma, and Paul Mbong miss out. In addition, Cain Formosa is not in the squad after Marcolini picked him in the group for the Luxembourg game.

Malta will line up in a 3-5-2 formation on Friday, with Henry Bonello taking his spot between the sticks. And an experienced backline will feature Zach Muscat, Ferdinando Apap, and captain Steve Borg. The trio will aim to keep things tight in the middle of the park while denying any space to Harry Kane.

Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli should be the two wing-backs for Malta against England. The duo will primarily remain pinned back to create a defensive quintet. That will enable Malta to remain compact and snuff out the chances. But the wide duo will also push forward when the opportunities present themselves.

Yannick Yankam, Jake Grech, and Matthew Guillaumier should be the three midfielders. The trio will aim to shore up things in the middle of the park. And they will be primarily defensive-minded in their approach on Friday. Finally, Jodi Felice Jones and Kyrian Nwoko will be the two strikers, with the duo feeding off scraps.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Bonello; Muscat, Apap, Borg; Mbong, Grech, Guillaumier, Yankam, Camenzuli; Jones, Nwoko


Gareth Southgate would not have made many changes to the squad for the games this month. But injuries have forced his hand, with Nick Pope, Reece James, and Mason Mount not making it to the original squad.

In addition, Lewis Dunk and Jude Bellingham have withdrawn from the squad to recover from their respective injuries. But Bellingham, fresh off sealing a move to Real Madrid, remains with the group to continue his rehabilitation. Meanwhile, Eberechi Eze will be in line to make his England debut after Southgate handed him his maiden call-up.

But Eze will not make it to the starting eleven, with Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka being the two wide attackers. The duo will line up alongside Harry Kane to complete the numbers in the final third. Eze, Callum Wilson, and Phil Foden will hope for minutes off the bench.

As for the midfield unit, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips should reunite in the middle of the park. The duo will accompany Jordan Henderson in the centre of the pitch. And they will create a fluid midfield partnership, with each player having the freedom to charge forward.

Meanwhile, Marc Guehi should start ahead of John Stones after the latter’s taxing end to the season. Guehi will form the central defensive partnership alongside Harry Maguire, with Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier being the two full-backs. Finally, Jordan Pickford will take his spot between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pickford; Trippier, Guehi, Maguire, Shaw; Phillips, Rice, Henderson; Saka, Kane, Rashford

Key Stats

  • Malta have lost all five of their matches against England in all competitions by an aggregate score of 14-1. Friday’s game will be the first meeting since a 4-0 England win in September 2017 in a World Cup qualifier.
  • Across 226 matches in World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, Malta have only been victorious on seven occasions (D26 L193) and just once in their last 21 games (D2 L18), a 3-0 home win against Cyprus in September 2021.
  • England have won 19 of their last 20 European Championship qualifying matches. The exception was a 2-1 away defeat at the Czech Republic in October 2019.
  • England are unbeaten in their last 29 matches in all competitions when scoring the first goal (W27 D2), keeping a clean sheet in 24 of those games. The last time they lost when scoring first was against the Czech Republic in October 2019.
  • Harry Kane has scored in all but two of his 15 appearances in European Championship qualifying, netting 17 goals in total and finding the net in his last ten appearances (14 goals). Kane has also beaten the goalkeeper in his last seven away outings for club and country, netting eight goals.

Player to Watch

Harry Kane

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Kane might be the subject of rampant speculation surrounding his future. But he remains focused on the job at hand, not letting the rumour-mongering get to his head. That was evident as he scored goals at will for Tottenham, even as the North London club struggled to grab wins.

The 29-year-old will now be ready to improve his numbers on the international stage. England’s record goalscorer has an impeccable record in European Championship qualifying. And he will be the odds-on favourite to find the back of the net at least once, letting his game do the talking.


Malta 0-3 England

Michele Marcolini will set Malta up to defend with numbers behind the ball. And that will initially frustrate the visitors as they look to make quick work of their hosts. But the gulf in quality is enormous, and the Three Lions will cruise to a run-of-the-mill 3-0 victory. The result will help Gareth Southgate’s men stretch their lead atop Group C.

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