A resumption of rivalry between international football’s oldest rivals, some of the best midfield talent on the planet and a rematch of the 2018 World Cup semifinal: Group D of the European Championships won’t be short on drama and quality. The group kicks off Sunday when England takes on Croatia. Here is everything you need to know:
Fixtures and how to watch
(All times U.S./Eastern. Stream every game on fuboTV — Try for free)
Sunday, June 13
England vs. Croatia (Wembley Stadium, London, 9 a.m., ESPN)
Monday, June 14
Scotland vs. Czech Republic (Hampden Park, Glasgow, 9.a.m., ESPN)
Friday, June 18
Croatia vs. Czech Republic (Hampden Park, Glasgow, 12 p.m., ESPN)
England vs. Scotland (Wembley Stadium, London, 3 p.m., ESPN)
Monday, June 21
Croatia vs. Scotland (Hampden Park, Glasgow, 3 p.m., ESPN 2)
Czech Republic vs. England (Wembley Stadium, London, 3 p.m., ESPN)
That England are among the tournament favorites with(+500 via William Hill Sportsbook) is perhaps more a reflection of betting markets than their actual chances of winning Euro 2020 but there are many reasons to believe they will be at the business end of the competition. Home advantage certainly favors them with all of their group games and potentially all bar one knockout game at Wembley Stadium. Their surprise run to the semifinals of the World Cup three years ago restored some of the bonds between the team and the nation. Most importantly of all they have a lot of very good players.
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That is particularly the case in attack where Gareth Southgate can call on a cadre of varied talent to surround captain and star striker Harry Kane, from creative playmakers such as Phil Foden and Mason Mount to the direct speedsters Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford. Then there is potential x factor Jack Grealish, a player almost as beloved by his country as Paul Gascoigne was in 1998.
Their Achilles heel lies in defense with Harry Maguire expected to miss much of the group stage with an ankle injury. John Stones excelled with Manchester City this season but his partner is not clear. Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings have not looked all that impressive so it may be that Brighton’s Ben White, a late replacement for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold, starts against Croatia on Sunday.
In the mix
The leader of the chasing pack may well be Croatia. Though their run to the 2018 World Cup final felt like the last gasp of a glorious era it would be unwise to discount the possibility of them making a major impact at coming tournaments. For the time being they still have 35-year-old Luka Modric, who continues to prove his worth for Real Madrid and for his national side. There is the traditional cadre of creative midfielders around Modric with Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic and Nikola Vlasic likely vying for two starting spots. Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic can be dangerous on the flanks but the question they will face is whether they have the pace to keep up with England and others later in the competition.
If any nation will be relishing a tournament largely played in England as much as the hosts it will be the Czech Republic, who are returning to the country where they made history on their run to the Euro 96 final. A repeat showing might well be beyond them but they will not be an easy out and enter this tournament with two key players — Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal — riding high after an outstanding campaign with West Ham in the Premier League. Add to that young attacking talent such as Patrik Schick and Adam Hlozek and this could be a team to hand out bloody noses.
The same could be said of Scotland, who enter this tournament in strong form in defense and with Southampton’s Che Adams having shown at club level that he might be the striker Steve Clarke’s side have been looking for for what has felt like generations. Behind him is proven Premier League quality such as John McGinn, Scott McTominay and two of the league’s best left-backs (Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson) while Clarke has proven throughout his managerial career that he can get the best out of teams. Most importantly of all, though, there is a real bond in this Scotland side and an appreciation of Spanish disco classics that should make them every neutrals favorite.
Game to watch
England vs. Scotland, June 18: How could it not be this one? One of the most intense rivalries in international football, particularly for a Scotland side who are certainties to raise their game against their opponent from down south. Wembley will roar England on, could this be the day Grealish has his Gazza moment?
England, Harry Kane: For all the attacking talent that they will surround him with it is the Tottenham striker that is the key cog in England’s attack. The Golden Boot winner at the last World Cup and in this year’s Premier League, he has added greater creativity when dropping deep that should allow him to unleash runners in behind as well as score goals.
Croatia, Luka Modric: It may be that the form of Bruno Petkovic in front of goal is more important in determining how far Croatia go at Euro 2020 but if Modric can dictate games as he did in the World Cup three years ago then Zlatko Dalic’s side will be able to grind opponents into submission.
Czech Republic, Tomas Soucek: The mountainous star of West Ham’s season, Soucek is a rarity in the modern game: a true box-to-box midfielder who can make telling contributions at both ends. In the air there are few that can compete with the 26-year-old, who has a hat-trick to his name at international level.
Scotland, Kieran Tierney: A case could certainly be made for captain and fellow left back Robertson but at international level it has often been his Arsenal counterpart who has shone brighter in recent matches. Without the ball he is diligent and robust while his trailing runs from the left could unlock plenty of paths for his excellent crosses.