Samir Handanovic v Wayne RooneyThe Udinese goalkeeper has had loan spells at other clubs in Italy, but, as a 25-year-old, has now come into his own in Serie A. Handanovic is tall and there has been a general dominance in the air for his country. He was crucial to an outstanding defensive record that made it possible for Slovenia to get into the play-offs for the World Cup in which they astounded Russia. Slovenia have shown their hardiness and England now must be eager to see their best forward at last recovering the knack for goals.
Milivoje Novakovic v John TerryThe Slovenian forward's career seems like a reflection of his country's taxing journey to the World Cup finals. Novakovic is a 31-year-old who left his homeland and reached his current club, Cologne, after appearing for teams in Austria and Bulgaria. If that smacks of a journeyman's career the impression is contradicted by a record of about a goal to every two games in Germany, latterly in the Bundesliga following Koln's promotion two years ago. He also struck five times in the World Cup qualifiers and, at 6ft 3in, could present a physical challenge even to Terry.
Robert Koren v Gareth BarryThe contrast between a player's identity at club and international level has been vivid in a midfielder whose contract was not renewed at West Bromwich Albion. Koren's morale cannot have been affected since he scored the only goal of the match against Algeria that puts Slovenia ahead of England in the World Cup group. That strike by the captain was not at all typical of him but it was a reminder that Barry and others in the midfield must be wary of opponents who keep on over-achieving.
This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.