The Montenegro coach, Branko Brnovic, believes his side will confront an England team running scared on Tuesday, suggesting the visitors have been arrogant in their attitude towards progress to Brazil and dismissing their apparent concerns over the state of the turf at the City Stadium by claiming the English have "always favoured long passes".
The hosts start the qualifying game two points clear of Roy Hodgson's side at the top of the section. Should they prevail and then beat Ukraine in their final competitive fixture of the season in June, Montenegro would open up an eight-point lead at the top of Group H leaving England, who do not play again in the group until September, and the chasing pack effectively pursuing a play-off place to reach the 2014 World Cup.
"We respect and appreciate the English team, but even more so we appreciate our own qualities," said Brnovic. "I'm sure we'll make the most of them. I've read statements from some English players about the way the pitch will look. As far as I know, the English have always favoured long passes, so who should complain about this? Us, with [Mirko] Vucinic, [Stevan] Jovetic, [Marko] Basa, or England? They're also intimidated by our fans. All these stories are coming from their side. That shows they're more scared of this game than we are."
The Montenegrin Football Association has been sanctioned to the tune of over €90,000 (£76,650) in recent times over the behaviour of its supporters at the national stadium – a chair was thrown at the Polish goalkeeper in their opening group match – with the body's president, Dejan Savicevic, having appealed for calm ahead of this game. Yet, when asked why he thought England would still be unnerved, Brnovic merely pointed to Vucinic at his side.
"Only for football-related reasons," he said, before addressing the perceived arrogance of their visitors. "I would say [they are arrogant] because that's what could be seen, even when they played San Marino, given some of the things they said. But things will certainly be quite different now [compared to when Montenegro last hosted England in October 2011 in qualification for Euro 2012]. We are the leaders in our group this time. We're not chasing after anything and we have nothing to prove. This will be quite a spectacle.
"I hear England have [pencilled in] friendlies against Germany and Argentina in November. Perhaps they did so before the start of the qualifiers, because definitely they believe in themselves. Perhaps after the game with us they will have to cancel them, and they may suffer a penalty. Who knows? We want to take the opportunity ahead of us. I'm not saying we can't lose the game, but England will really have to toil to beat us."
Vucinic, the Juventus forward whose 14th international goal defeated Moldova in Chisinau last Friday, echoed his manager's confidence as Montenegro sense an opportunity to move clear at the top of the group. "We'll run out on to the field thinking of victory, but even if we fail it won't be as big a problem for us as it would be for England if they failed here," he said. "For sure, the pressure is on them because, if I'm not wrong, they'll be five points behind if we win.
"They are a different team to two years ago and every team that loses players is weakened in a way, but I'm sure they'll have adequate substitutes because England have a larger number of players from which to choose than we have population in our country."
Asked about the absence of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand from Hodgson's team, Vucinic added: "They must have their personal reasons for that, but I'm sure the match would be better and more interesting if they played too because they are certainly among the best defenders in the world today. But I certainly do see [Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott's inclusion] as a source of weakness because, if they're not playing regularly for their own clubs, I don't see why their national coach should be picking them."
England's 2-2 draw here in qualification for Euro 2012 secured them top place in the group and saw Montenegro into the play-offs – they were subsequently beaten by the Czech Republic – but was marred by Wayne Rooney's dismissal for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic. England's players have already predicted their hosts would seek to wind them up on Tuesday though that suggestion, too, was greeted with incredulity by Brnovic and Vucinic.
Asked about Alan Shearer's assertion that Montenegro would "kick, shove, scratch and abuse" Rooney to provoke a reaction, the coach retorted: "As far as I know, Rooney was the one who attacked our player last time, not vice versa. And I know that both Jovetic and Vucinic always suffer strong kicks, but they never complain. And I can say that such English legends are already trying to resort to excuses for what happens tomorrow. Everyone seems bothered."
Vucinic added: "It will not be our tactics to make him lose his temper. For sure, it would be in our favour if he's given a red card, but we will not be doing anything to provoke him or make him lose his temper."