The Group Of Dark Horses: Euro 2020 Group D Roundup

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ENGLAND

SQUAD UPDATE: No one can question the quality possessed by this England side. Gareth Southgate has a tough choice to make as to which right back to play now that Trent Alexander Arnold was forced to drop out from the squad due to the left quad injury he picked up during the 1-0 win against Austria. Ben white has since been called upon to replace the injured full back. This decision has been criticised as players like James Ward-Prowse were available who gave an impressive display against Romania.

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England’s stand out player during the friendlies has been Jack Grealish who has been their main source of creativity in these two games. England will be looking to their captain Harry Kane who’s coming off of a great season getting both the golden boot and most assists in the league with 23 goals and 14 assists. The one year postponement of the Euros has worked out great for England as it has enabled them to find three young gems in Foden, Mount and Saka.

FORM: The Three Lions are ranked at number 4 in the Fifa world rankings and won all of their last 5 games in 2021. They are defensively resilient conceding only once in all these games and pack a punch going into attack with several quality players.

PREDICTIONS: This chant has been playing on loop in every England fan’s heart for a very long time now. Group D is a very interesting group as England go up against the latest Fifa World Cup runner ups Croatia, their local rivals Scotland and the only team that managed to beat them in the Euro qualifiers, Czech Republic. Although competition is there, England should be able to top the group. The real competition arises in the knockout stages as England are bound to face either Portugal or France later on, with both teams being poised as favorites to win the trophy.

Czech Republic

SQUAD UPDATE: The Czech football has been on the rise ever since Jaroslav Šilhavý took over in 2018. They’ll be missing two key players with center back Ondrej Kúdela currently serving a ten match ban for his infamous racism incident against Glen Kamara and Midfielder Lukáš Provod missing out due to a knee injury. The Czech’s have a good strong midfield with the likes of Tomáš Souček and Alex Král. Young forward Adam Hložek will be an interesting watch as he has scored 14 goals and provided 7 assists in 19 games this season. Hložek will be coming off the bench supporting Peter Schick up front. They also have Coufal leading in defense who’s coming off a great season with the hammers.

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FORM: Czech Republic is currently sitting at 40th in the FIFA rankings and managed to comfortably grab second place in Group A of the European qualifiers with 5 wins and three losses which included their famous 2-1 win against England. They suffered a huge 4-0 loss by the hands of Italy in the first friendly but managed to back that up with an impressive 3-1 win against Albania in the second friendly. 

PREDICTIONS: Although Czech Republic has the calibre to pull off an upset. They await very hostile crowds at Hampden Park where they play two of their games as a result of the actions of Ondrej Kúdela in Slavia Prague’s 2-0 win against the Rangers. Their European campaign may end in the group stage as a 4th place finish could very well be on the cards.

SCOTLAND

SQUAD UPDATE: Like Czech republic, Scotland’s fortune turned for the good after their previous manager, Alex Mcleish got sacked after their 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in their first game of the qualifying stage. Steve Clarke has since steadied the ship and somehow managed to scrape through to the Euros.

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Scott Clarke has been known to field a 3 at the back formation as that was the formation he used throughout the qualifiers. Scotland have two fine left backs in Captain Andy Robertson who will be the main source of creativity for this team and will be backed up by Kieran Tierney who’ll be playing as the left center back. John Mcginn has proved vital for this Scottish side as he’s a good passer of the ball and is known to find the back of the net from time to time. Scotland usually play with two strikers up front and have an option between Ryan Christie, Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes. 

FORM: Scotland managed to qualify for the Playoffs which was a result of them finishing first in their nations league group. Both their games in the playoffs against Israel and Serbia went to penalties and managed to scrape a win in both. They had an impressive outing against Netherlands in the friendly when they managed to get a 2-2 draw against a strong dutch side. Che Adams scored the only goal in their 1-0 win over Luxembourg in the second friendly.

PREDICTIONS: This is Scotland’s third European championship and they did not make it out of the group stage the previous two times. Unfortunately this time around could be no different as they face a stacked England team and a Croatian team who finished as the runners up in the Fifa World Cup 2018. A third place finish is very probable but their fate of qualifying for the knockout stages depends on their differential.

CROATIA

Squad Update: After their 2018 world Cup heart break many important players like Mandzukic, Rakitic, Corluka and Subasic ended up hanging their boots in international football. Croatia have looked a bit short handed since the departure of these key players and could be in for a tough campaign.
The midfield department is still very strong with Captain Luka Modric and Matteo Kovacic playing alongside Marcelo Brozovic.
Ivan Perisic and Rebic are expected to start on the wings with Bruno Petkovic replacing Mandzukic upfront.

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Croatia also have a strong bench filled with attacking players like Kramaric and Orsic who can be called upon when they’re searching for goals.

FORM: Croatia had a pretty strong qualifying campaign finishing first in their group with only one loss that came at the hands of Hungary. In the World Cup Qualifiers Croatia managed to win 2 of their 3 games. Although they had a good run in the qualifiers, there attack doesn’t seem upto the mark as they ended up drawing 1-1 against Armenia and losing 1-0 against Belgium.

PREDICTIONS: Croatia have never managed to get past the quarter finals in a Euros tournament. However, this Croatian side has a lot of experience and the ability to perform at the highest level and should be able to secure a second place finish in the group. But, an upset may be on the cards and they might end up finishing third as their attack is not able to gel well.

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