England vs Croatia Preview

Key Details

Teams: England vs Croatia
Date: Sunday 13th June
KO Time: 14:00
Competition: European Championships
Stadium: Wembley
Managers: Gareth Southgate and Zlatko Dalić
Referee: Daniele Orsato

Build Up

England and Croatia have become familiar foes in recent times, with this being the fourth competitive meeting between the two sides in the last three years. The biggest of these meetings was in the 2018 World Cup Semi Final, where Croatia came out on top, thanks to a Mario Mandzukic winner in extra-time. England will look to avenge the defeat and they will be buoyed on by the home support at Wembley.

Croatia pose a strong threat and are expected to be difficult opponents for England on Sunday. Several key players from Croatia’s 2018 World Cup run to the final aren’t in the squad for Euro 2020. Most notably, Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic have retired since then. Despite this, there is still a lot of experience in the team. Croatia’s strength lies in their midfield, with the experienced trio of Modric, Brozovic and Kovacic. This midfield is capable of dictating the game against any team, and England must not allow them to have control of the game if they want to come out on top. These two teams are favourites to take the top two spots of group D and they will be looking for the perfect start.

Team News

Harry Maguire looks set to miss all of England’s group games due to an ankle injury, which could be a huge blow to England’s defence. However, the Manchester United captain said that he hopes to be fit enough to make the bench for England’s final group game against Czech Republic. He appeared back in training on Thursday and hopefully will be able to feature in the knockout stages of the campaign (if England make it). This injury setback could cause England to switch to a back three, with Coady, Mings or White potentially featuring.

The only other main injury concern is Jordan Henderson, who picked up a major injury in February. But the Liverpool skipper did play in the second half in England’s last warm up game against Romania and he believes he is fit enough to start their opener on Sunday. Another slight worry is a hip injury for Bukayo Saka, which caused him to miss out against Romania in the warm-up friendly. However, the injury is unlikely to keep him out of being involved in the Euros.

With a strong squad depth and competition for places, there is much anticipation on who Southgate will start against Croatia. However, the England manager says he has decided on 10 out of 11 of the starting line-up for the opener and all of them will be trying to cement their position for the rest of the campaign.

Croatia’s main injury concern is the loss of former Liverpool defender, Dejan Lovren. The experienced centre-back picked up a muscle injury several weeks ago while at Zenit St Petersburg. This means Duje Ćaleta-Car will most likely partner Vida at centre back.

Interesting Facts

  • This is the ninth time they’ve met competitively. England have come out on top 4 times, Croatia 3 times (1 draw).
  • Harry Kane was the top scorer in the 2020 Euros Qualifying, with 12 goals in 8 games.
  • Luka Modric is Croatia’s most capped player, with 138 appearances for his national team (EU-Football)
  • England have the second youngest average squad at the Euros, with an average age of 25.2 years. Croatia’s average age is 27.8 years (Statista)

Predicted Line-ups

England: Pickford, Mings, Stones, Walker, Shaw, Rice, Phillips, James, Mount, Grealish, Kane (3-4-2-1)

Croatia: Livakovic, Barisic, Vida, Caleta-Car, Vrsaljko, Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric, Perisic, Petkovic, Rebic (4-3-3)

Predicted Score

This is certainly a tough game to call, but England do have the stronger squad and the home advantage. I think it will be a tight game, but I’m predicting a 2-1 England win.

Author: Joel Abraham

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