Euro 2020: Group D Preview

After a delay of one year due the Coronavirus pandemic Euro 2020 is nearly upon us. The month long festival of European football looks set to thrill us with some of the biggest stars in the game hoping to lead their nation to glory.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Euro 2020 Group D, with England, Croatia, Scotland and Czech Republic all looking to book a place in the knockout stages of the tournament.

ENGLAND

Finding a balance will be the key for Gareth Southgate in this tournament. He is blessed with the most talented crop of young attacking players for many a generation yet concerns at the back surrounding the fitness of Harry Maguire have exposed the lack of depth in key defensive areas.

The Manager – Gareth Southgate

Now in his fifth year in the job, Southgate is expected to take England into the latter stages of this competition after reaching the last four in the World Cup. As a spokesperson and role model, there are no better but the man in charge is still yet to show he has the tactical capabilities to make a difference against fellow elite teams on the world stage.

One to watch – Harry Kane

With a World Cup Golden Boot already to his name, Kane will be eyeing another major goalscoring award after a fine individual season with Tottenham. He’s the pre-tournament betting favourite to add another Golden Boot to his collection. He led both the goalscoring and assist charts in the Premier League as he yet again proved he is arguably the best striker currently in world football.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton).

Defenders: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Brighton).

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham).

Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Man City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Man City).

Best Euro finish:Semi-finals (1996)

Fixtures:

  • Sunday June 13: England vs Croatia; Kick-off 2pm (London)
  • Friday June 18: England vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (London)
  • Tuesday June 22: England vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 8pm (London)

CROATIA

The 2018 World Cup runners-up saw off Wales, Slovakia and Hungary to top the most competitive group in qualifying. Their 17 points was the lowest of the 10 group winners. Of greater concern is that they have been poor travellers, winning just one away game and were the only team to drop points against Azerbaijan.

The Manager – Zlatko Dalic 

The 54-year-old took charge during a period of turmoil in 2017 following a successful period managing in the Middle East. Croatia were struggling to qualify for the World Cup, but he reached Russia via the play-offs before taking them all the way to the final before losing to France.

It feels as though he is running out of credit, however, following a run of two wins in eight games since last October – far from ideal preparation for the tournament.

One to watch – Luka Modric

At 35, the Real Madrid midfielder is in the twilight of his career, but the 2018 Balon d’Or winner can still pick a pass. His feet remain quick, his vision unimpeded by the passing of time. Nikola Vlasic, formerly of Everton, is the rising star in Croatia’s ranks but it is Modric who still holds the key to their fortunes.

Facing England in their opener could play in their favour given Gareth Southgate’s current injury issues, and Modric will surely punish any signs of vulnerability.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb), Lovre Kalinić (Hajduk Split), Simon Sluga (Luton).

Defenders: Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético Madrid), Borna Barišić (Rangers), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Marseille), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Josip Juranović (Legia Warsaw), Domagoj Vida (Beşiktaş), Joško Gvardiol (Leipzig), Domagoj Bradarić (Lille), Mile Škorić (Osijek).

Midfielders: Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozović (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Nikola Vlašić (CSKA Moscow), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Ivan Perišić (Inter Milan), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb), Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo Zagreb).

Forwards: Ante Rebić (AC Milan), Bruno Petković (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim).

Best Euro finish: Quater-finals (1996, 2008)

Fixtures:

  • Sunday June 13: England vs Croatia; Kick-off 2pm (London)
  • Friday June 18: Croatia vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 5pm (Glasgow)
  • Tuesday June 22: Croatia vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (Glasgow)

SCOTLAND

Having lost out on progressing to the knockout stages in 1996 on goals scored to the Netherlands, perhaps Scotland’s luck is finally turning. Steve Clarke’s men won two penalty shoot-outs in Euro 2020 qualifying: the play-off semi-final against Israel, and the play-off final against Serbia, scoring all 10 spot-kicks.

The Manager – Steve Clarke

Clarke has taken Scotland to only their third European Championship and first since Craig Brown managed the feat in 1996. Scotland hadn’t featured in any major finals since the 1998 World Cup.

A victory over England at Wembley would spark a summer of celebrations and afford the manager cult status, regardless of whether or not they progress.

One to watch – John McGinn

This is the most talented group Scotland have boasted for some time, a squad sprinkled with Premier League star quality, but it is box-to-box Aston Villa midfielder McGinn who has so often provided that vital ingredient of goals. He scored seven in eight qualifying appearances. No other player scored more than one. He won’t be shy of shooting when he comes face-to-face with his Villa team-mates Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings in the Wembley showdown.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian), David Marshall (Derby), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers).

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich), Jack Hendry (Celtic), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Nathan Patterson (Rangers), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), David Turnbull (Celtic).

Forwards: Ché Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (QPR), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian).

Best Euro finish: Group stages (1992, 1996)

Fixtures:

  • Monday June 14: Scotland vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 2pm (Glasgow)
  • Friday June 18: England vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (London)
  • Tuesday June 22: Croatia vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (Glasgow)

CZECH REUBLIC

The last time the European Championship took place on English soil those of a certain age will remember Karel Poborský’s magnificent lob against Portugal in the quarter-finals? The class of 2021 will hope to create their own memories when they return to Wembley.

Czech Republic come into the Euros on the back of four points collected from three matches in their 2022 World Cup qualifying group, leaving them in second place. This may not be as talented as the golden generation of around 20 years ago, but they will be dangerous opponents in Group D.

The Manager – Jaroslav Silhavy

he Czech Republic have qualified for every European Championship since 1996, but Silhavy is tasked with improving on their record in France five years ago, when the side failed to win and exited the group stage with only a single point.

Silhavy took Slovan Liberec to the Champions League in 2012 and has been in charge of the national team for more than three years. Promotion to League A in the UEFA Nations League means he takes the current crop into this summer’s tournament on a solid foundation.

One to watch – Tomáš Souček 

Shortlisted for Premier League player of the season, look no further than Soucek for the Czech’s chief threat. Not only has he demonstrated for West Ham his ability to provide a solid defensive presence at the back during corners and free-kicks, Soucek has been a revelation in attack, his goals helping the Hammers seal European qualification.

What is more, he will know everything about the England team along with his club-mate Vladimir Coufal.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Tomáš Vaclík (Sevilla), Jiří Pavlenka (Werder Bremen), Aleš Mandous (Sigma Olomouc)

Defenders: Pavel Kadeřábek (1899 Hoffenheim), Ondřej Čelůstka (Sparta Prague), Tomáš Kalas, (Bristol City), Jan Bořil (Slavia Prague), Jakub Brabec (Viktoria Plzeň), Vladimír Coufal (West Ham United), Tomáš Holeš (Slavia Prague), Aleš Matějů (Brescia), David Zima (Slavia Prague)

Midfielders: Vladimír Darida (Hertha BSC), Jakub Jankto (Sampdoria), Tomáš Souček (West Ham United), Lukáš Masopust (Slavia Prague), Antonín Barák (Hellas Verona), Alex Král (Spartak Moscow), Petr Ševčík (Slavia Prague), Adam Hložek, (Sparta Prague), Jakub Pešek (Slovan Liberec).

Forwards: Matěj Vydra (Burnley), Michael Krmenčík (PAOK), Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen), Tomáš Pekhart (Legia Warsaw).

Best Euro finish: Runners-up (1996), semi-finals (2004).

Fixtures:

  • Monday June 14: Scotland vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 2pm (Glasgow)
  • Friday June 18: Croatia vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 5pm (Glasgow)
  • Tuesday June 22: Czech Republic vs England; Kick-off 8pm (London)

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