Group D preview
By Ed Bazeley
Following a year-long suspension due to COVID, EURO 2020 is finally here for us to enjoy and savour. The first game of Group D will see the Three Lions face Croatia, the team who broke fans’ hearts at the semi-final stage in Russia. Next, Southgate’s men will face familiar foe Scotland: the “Tartan Army” may well fancy their chances of causing an upset or two, while the Czech Republic will believe they can progress too. For Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia, who were World Cup finalists just three summers ago, this could well be the last shot at glory, given the ages of star players Modric and Perisic, 35 and 32, respectively.
Head coach: Zlatko Dalic
Captain: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Key player: Luka Modric
Croatia still have a top-class midfield, albeit an aging one as previously mentioned. Striker Andrej Kramaric has vastly improved since his underwhelming Leicester days and has scored 20 Bundesliga goals in 28 appearances for Hoffenheim this season. Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida has impressed in previous tournaments for his international side.
Head coach: Jaroslav Silhavy
Captain: Borek Dockal (Sparta Prague)
Key player: Tomas Soucek (West Ham United)
Czech Republic have quality among their ranks. As West Ham fans know, Soucek always has a goal in him, being particularly menacing when he gets on the end of set-pieces. Another of Czech’s star players also plys his trade for the Irons: right-back Vladimir Coufal who Premier League fans have come to admire for his athleticism and wicked crosses. Add Leverkusen forward Patrik Schick into the mix, and you’ve not got a bad formula there whatsoever.
Head coach: Gareth Southgate
Captain: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Key player: Harry Kane
England’s team for this tournament has the sort of depth which they usually envy of other squads. Any team with an elite striker such as Harry Kane meanwhile is dangerous. Villa ace Jack Grealish was highly impressive in the warmup games against Austria and Romania and has been compared by pundits to former cult-hero Paul Gascoigne due to his wizardry on the ball. The injury to key centre-half Harry Maguire could well thwart England’s progress, however, but a late injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold is likely to be less troublesome, courtesy of the presence of other quality right backs in the squad, including Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier and Chelsea’s Reece James.
Head coach: Steve Clarke
Captain: Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Key player: Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
This is Scotland’s first major tournament since the France World Cup 1998. They could well fancy their chances at getting out of this group. They have two top class left-sided players at their disposal in Robertson and Tierney. Southampton marksman Che Adams, who netted 9 Premier League goals this season, could well be the last piece in Steve Clarke’s jigsaw. The absolute dream for Scotland would be if they could pull of a shock and defeat group favourites England. In their last warm-up game, the Scots defeated Luxembourg 1-0, which saw QPR target man Dykes linking up well with Adams.
Group D fixtures
Sunday 13th June
England vs Croatia, London
Monday 14th June
Scotland vs Czech Republic, Glasgow
Friday 18th June
Croatia vs Czech Republic, Glasgow
England vs Scotland, London
Tuesday 22nd June
Czech Republic vs England, London
Croatia vs Scotland, Glasgow