When England face Moldova at Wembley, you can be pretty sure the match will follow one of two paths. The first is a happy one, so far as the hosts are concerned. The Three Lions score early, breaking through the bulwarks of Moldovan resistance. The defence collapses; further goals are shipped; England emerge not merely victorious but, as the pens of those chronicling the match will describe, gloriously so, having established their inherent superiority over wherever the heck Moldova is.
This triumph (one imagines Daniel Sturridge, scorer of four, emerging after halftime bearing a laurel crown*) would be ruined in the 65th minute or so by someone pointing out that 'it's only Moldova'. The nation's conscience will consider this, and, upon reflection, rather sheepishly admit that they were getting carried away and that, perhaps, their boys should stop being such bullies. For the English, pride comes before an apology.
*Ideally he'd be shadowed by Jack Wilshere, who'd be tasked with reminding his compatriot of the horrors of mortality.
The other path is equally befitting the country. Because, in this scenario, Moldova's defence holds out until the second half before being breached once and only once. Onlookers go mad with frustration. The players fare little better. ITV hold a post-game inquest demanding to know the meaning of allowing the visitors an 89th-minute corner.
The points won't matter, because the stodgy, unsexy play would have allowed England to tap into its rich, deep mines of self-loathing. And thus the country's essence marches bravely on.
Either way, England will win. Either way, nobody will be particularly happy about it. So...
Match Date/Time: 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:0 p.m. EDT
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
TV: Fox Sports 1 (U.S.), ITV 1
Online: Fox Soccer to Go (U.S.)