European Championships 2020
Sunday 13th June 2021
Kick off at 2pm BST
Venue: Wembley Stadium
England’s European Championship adventure will begin with the nation that knocked them out of the World Cup in Russia in 2018 and that will be the main theme coming into this game.
Revenge will be on the minds of the England players just like it was in 2002 when England met Argentina in the World Cup group stages after the South American’s had knocked England out in the previous World Cup. England come into this delayed competition from last year with optimism and a whole host of genuine quality. In defence there are the likes of Reece James, Kyle Walker and Ben Chilwell who all played in the recent Champions League final. Kieran Trippier who was arguably the best defender in Spain last season as his club Atletico Madrid trumped both Real Madrid and Barcelona to win the La Liga title will be fighting for a place. And there is still yet more quality in Harry Maguire, Conor Coady who has come on this season and Luke Shaw. Manager Gareth Southgate will be delighted with the pool of players he has at his disposal and judging on previous tournaments by and large England have usually kept it tight at the back especially in the group stages. But this team could well be the best defence that England have had in a generation.
It’s rare to see an England team who has not 1 but 2 players based in the Bundesliga and this diversity could pay dividends for a nation whose players usually play only in the Premier League. The Bundesliga pair both play for Borussia Dortmund and a lot has been said about Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham who look lightening quick. Harry Kane will be up front and be expected to be the player to bag the goals just like he did in Russia 2018.
There have been question marks though if Southgate knows his best team and perhaps one of two players are coming into the competition rusty from injuries carried over in the domestic season. As form goes England have won their last 6 games in a row, tellingly though this hasn’t been against very high ranked nations, though beating Poland 2-1 back in March would have been welcomed. England’s last two games witnessed back to back victories against Romania and Austria respectively.
Croatia come into the Euro’s on the back of poor form having won just 3 of their past 10 games. It has been noticeable that the nation have failed to beat any of the big guns they have faced over the past year. This includes losing against France, Portugal, Sweden and most recently in a friendly just before this tournament 1-0 to Belgium.
The World Cup finalists in Russia have seen 40% of the team that played in that final v France retire but there is still quality in the team. Everything will revolve around Real Madrid player Luka Modric once more and he needs to have an impact on the game for this team to click. Up front Bruno Petkovic is the hope for the nation but at the same time he has managed just 1 goal in his last 7 appearances.
There are also rumours of discontent in the Croatia dressing room and if this is true then we are reminded how that turned out for the Netherlands in 1996.
England: Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson are the biggest doubts for England and are expected to miss this game through a lack of match fitness following earlier injuries.
Croatia: There are no major injuries to speak of for the nation.
England vs Croatia Head to Head:
England have beaten Croatia 3 times from the last 5 games.
The last time the teams played was in 2018 in the UEFA Nations League and England won 2-1.
There is a 70% chance to see over 2.5 goals.
The last time the nations met at the European Championships was back in 2004 when England won 4-2.
England vs Croatia Prediction:
With the likes of Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic just playing behind the striker Croatia will be dangerous coming forward. However one could expect this match to start with a very pacy and aggressive England side who will want to start the competition in the right way and we should expect England to dominate possession at least in the first half. England with arguably a weaker side at the World Cup were able to get the better of Croatia for the first 45 minutes and we expect the same here.
England’s defence looks solid enough and if they can keep it compact they should be able to frustrate their opponents. The one worry is will Soutgate take some attacking risks and play Sancho and Bellingham together who have so much pace or will he go back to the tried and tested formula and have Raheem Sterling and Declan Rice in midfield? This England side look good enough to get victory over Croatia and top their group right from the get go and we are going for the home win. Of course let us not forget that England have home advantage and returning fans too.
England vs Croatia Betting Tips:
England to beat Croatia at 1.66
Anytime goalscorer: Harry Kane at 2.20
Correct Score: England to win 2-0 or 2-1 at 7.00 and 8.00