3 years after their memorable clash in the semi-final of the World Cup, that saw Croatia advance to the final, England are set to take their revenge on the Checkered Ones!
After having an intense match in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup that went into extra time, only for Croatia to emerge as the winners, the two team are once again facing off, although this time in the Euros.
The two teams, who are both favorites to qualify from group D above Scotland and Czech Republic, will meet in a match that’ll possibly determine the group D leader. Although they have had differing fortunes as of late, with England faring a lot better than Croatia, the game is expected to be very close between 2018 World Cup’s 2nd and 4th placed teams.
While England has maintained their great form after the World Cup by winning 7 of their 8 games in Euro 2020 qualifying stages, Croatia has been struggling lately, losing 3 times in their last 6 matches. Which puts England at an advantage, especially on home soil and in front of 22,500 fans.
England have enjoyed a renaissance under Gareth Southgate after he surprised everyone and took England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. with England players now believing they could go the distance in international competitions and with the emergence of impressive young talents like Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount led by one of the finest strikers in the world, Harry Kane, England are heavy favorites to win the Euro 2020.
They had an easy route of qualifying for the Euro 2020 in a group with Czech Republic, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Montenegro.England
won 7 and only lost 1 of their 8 games, scoring 37 times and conceding only 6.
Despite qualifying as the first team in a greoup that had 3 other Euro 2020 teams, Wales, Slovakia and Hungary,Croatia
has failed to maintain their excellent 2018 World Cup form.
Although even at their current form the Checkered Ones are far from being a pushover as they are captained by a Ballon d’Or winner,Luka Modric
, who leads a team of experienced winners like Ivan Persic, Ante Rebic, Dejan Lovren and Bruno Petkovic.
Croatia will be looking to take advantage of the fact that England has never won an opening game in European competitions (D5, L4) as well as the fact that everyone seems to underestimate them despite Croatia being the World Cup runner-ups.
Now let’s move onto the Croatia and England’s current form and their squad situation:
England heads into the Euros having won 10 of their last 13 games between 2020 and 2021. With on-form players like Harry Kane, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho backed by impressive defenders like Maguire and John Stones, England couldn’t be more ready for the Euros.
Their chances are boosted by the fact that they have had minor injury problems, with the exception of Trent Alexander-Arnold who’ll miss out on the competition due to a hamstring injury. Harry Maguire’s injury scare was also put to rest as he joined the team recently, although its doubtful that he'll play in the Croatia game.
However, England’s great squad will propose a challenge for Southgate, as he’ll have to figure out which players suit his tactics the best. This could prove to be their weakness as most of these players haven’t had much time together, something which Croatia and other teams will certainly look to exploit.
On the other side there is Croatia, who despite having a great team full of experienced players mixed with impressive young talent, are having a tough time of it recently. They have won only 4 and lost 7 out of their previous 13 matches in the last two years. As far as their squad goes, with the exception of former Liverpool defender,Dejan Lovren
, being a doubt for the game due to being injured, Croatia will go to the match with a full squad.
This will be Croatia’s 5th consecutive involvement in the Euros and their 6th in general. Excluding the penalty shoot-outs, Croatia has only lost 2 of their last 11 Euro outings, which will be their strength going into today’s game, as they seem to shift into another gear when it comes to important competitions as opposed to unimportant friendlies or qualifying games.
If anything, their recent poor form and the fact that English media have underestimated the 2018 World Cup runner-ups may have galvanized Croatia to win this match.
This will be the 3rd meeting between the two teams in important competitions (Euros or the World Cup). their first meeting was at the group stages of Euro 2004 where England beat Croatia 4-2 with goals from Rooney (2), Lampard and Scholes.
The two clashed in the semi-final stages of the 2018 World Cup again. Kieran Trippier's 5th-minute amazing free-kick goal was cancelled by a 68th-minute goal from Ivan Perisic which took the game into extra time only for Mario Mandzukic to score in the 109th minute and take Croatia to the World Cup final. They have also faced each other in the 2018-19 Nations League with England winning one 2-1 and the other being a goalless draw.
England will be playing a 3-4-3 formation which Southgate seems to favor with their possible starting line-up consisting of: Pickford; Stones, Mings, Walker; James, Chilwell, Mount, Rice; Foden, Sterling, Kane.
Zlatko Dalic’s team on the other will almost certainly be in a 4-3-3 formation with Croatia’s possible starting line-up being: Livakovic; Vrsaljko, Vida, Caleta-Car, Barisic; Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric; Rebic, Petkovic, Perisic.
Despite a plethora of on-form players, Harry Kane will the one to watch for England in this game. The Spurs striker won the Premier League Golden Boot and Playmaker of the Season just recently as well as winning the Golden Boot in the last World Cup and will be looking to do so in the Euros as well, starting from this match.
Croatia however, has a Ballon d’Or winner who is also their captain, Luka Modric. The Real Madrid midfield maestro and 4-time Champions League winner was annoyed by the “arrogant” English media underestimating Croatia and will be trying to prove them wrong.
While Southgate’s squad for the tournament seem impressive and Croatia has been particularly struggling lately, without proper preparations and after such a long season, England may struggle a bit to find themselves in this match. However, we expect them to edge out Croatia and win the game by the end, especially considering that England will be playing at the Wembley Stadium and in front of their own fans, determined to take revenge on Croatia after the 2018 World Cup!
The famous Italian Referee, Daniel Orsato who recently refereed the second leg of Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Real Madrid as well officiating last season’s Champions League final between Bayern and PSG, will be the match referee as England clash heads with Croatia.
Orsato is accompanied by his team compatriots, Alessandro Giallatini and Fabiano Preti, as Assistant referees on the pitch with the fourth and fifth officials being the Dutch duo of Björn Kuipers and Sander van Roekel. Massimiliano Irrati from Italy will be serving as the match’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and he is helped by João Pinheiro, Filippo Meli and Paolo Valeri.
Date: Sunday, June 13
Kick off Time: 2 p.m. BST
Location: Wembley Stadium, London, England
TV: BBC One
Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Odds: England 4/6; Draw 27/10; Croatia 9/2