Preview: Euro 2020 Group D
The Three Lions topped Group A in the qualifiers, suffering just one loss: a 2-1 away defeat against the Czech Republic. They are among the favourites to lift the trophy next summer, but it would be their first European title.
England have reached the Euro finals on 10 occasions, their best finish being third place in 1968, when Italy hosted. They have failed to make the knockout stages on four occasions, and in 2016 were famously beaten in the last 16 by tournament minnows and debutants Iceland.
In Group D, the Three Lions will again meet their Czech opponents from qualifying. Apart from October’s loss, they have beaten them in their three other encounters. Against Croatia, England have won five out of 10 meetings, but they ended English hopes in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If Scotland qualify, they will resume the oldest rivalry in international football, having played England 114 times. England have won both of their two matches against Israel, their only game against Serbia, and defeated Norway in seven of their 12 meetings.
Coach: Gareth Southgate has now been England’s manager for three years. At the 2018 World Cup, he led them to the final four, giving young talent a chance – having been England’s Under-21s boss – and signalling that the Three Lions could become a major force again.
Key player: Tottenham’s Harry Kane will be crucial to England’s hopes next summer, To date, he has 32 goals in 45 international appearances, with 12 of those coming in eight Euro 2020 qualifiers. He also became the first English player to score in every match of a qualifying campaign. Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup with six goals, and will surely be among the favourites to be the top scorer at Euro 2020.
Croatia were runners-up to France at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and topped their Euro qualifying group with just one loss. It will be their sixth appearance in the tournament, their best finish being as quarter-finalists. At Euro 2016 in France, they were eliminated by eventual winners Portugal in the last 16, and could face them again in next summer’s second round, depending on results.
Having defeated England in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, Croatia lost to them in the Uefa Nations League group stage. Croatia has never lost to the Czechs in their three meetings, and have one victory and a draw in their two games against fierce rivals Serbia. They are unbeaten in nine against Israel, and have had three victories, a draw, and a loss against Norway. They have yet to beat the Scots in five encounters.
Coach: After guiding Croatia to their first-ever World Cup final in 2018, Zlatko Dalic is a national hero at home. Since taking the job in 2017, his team have only suffered seven losses in 30 games.
Key player: At 34, skipper Luka Modric remains Croatia’s main man. The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is his nation’s second most-capped player, with 127 appearances, only seven behind Darijo Srna. The Real Madrid and former Spurs star pulls the strings in midfield and is also a goal threat.
The Czechs have qualified for every Euro finals since 1996, when they were runners-up to Germany. The also sealed third place in 2004, but at Euro 2016 they failed to make it out of their group. They finished second behind England in qualifying Group A.
To date, they have lost two of their four meetings against the Three Lions, and have never beaten Croatia. Against their potential play-off path opponents, however, they have better records. The Czechs have only lost to Scotland twice in seven meetings, only once in seven against Norway, and have won both their games against Israel. Against the Serbs, they have a win and a defeat.
Coach: The former Czech international Jaroslav Silhavy took charge of the national team in September 2018. He also served as assistant coach from 2001 to 2009. Silhavy has won Czech league titles with Slovan Liberec and Slavia Prague, and the national team have eight victories in 14 games under him.
Key player: Forward Patrik Schick scored seven times during qualifying. Capped 19 times, the 23-year-old has nine goals in total and looks set to be his country’s main source of firepower next summer.
Who will become the play-off Path C winner?
Norway finished behind Spain and Sweden in their qualifying group, with two wins and three draws. Their only previous appearance at a Euro finals came in 2000, when their trip ended at the group stage.
Their only match to date against Serbia ended in a draw. Against Israel, they have had a win and a loss. Scotland have proved tricky opponents down the years, with nine losses, six draws, and only three wins in their 18 meetings.
Serbia were in Group B in the qualifying stage and notched up four wins in eight games. They have never previously qualified for the European Championship but have unbeaten records against Israel and Scotland.
Scotland have not qualified for a Euro finals since 2000, and in their two tournaments to date have never reached the knock-out stages. They have a good record against Israel, losing just once in five previous meetings. The Scots have the incentive of matches being played on home turf at Hampden Park in Glasgow if they make it through to the finals.
Israel will make history if they can reach the Euro 2020 as it will be the first time they have qualified. Their only previous appearance at a major football tournament was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Israeli forward Eran Zahavi had 11 goals in qualifying, the same as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Norway v Serbia 26/03/2020, 17:00
Scotland v Israel 26/03/2020, 19:45
Group D schedule
The team which tops Group D will meet one in the next round from Group F, which includes France, Germany. Whoever finishes second could play either Portugal or Spain from the Group F in the last 16.
England v Croatia 14/06/20, 14:00, Wembley Stadium
TBD v Czech R 15/06/20, 14:00, Hampden Park
Croatia v Czech R 19/06/20, 17:00, Hampden Park
England v TBD 19/06/20, 20:00, Wembley Stadium
Croatia v TBD 23/06/20, 20:00, Hampden Park
Czech R v England 23/06/20 20:00, Wembley
Hampden Park photo by Justin Green via Flickr Creative Commons under licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0