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Euro 2020: Group D preview


Euro 2020: Group D preview

Group D at Euro 2020 contains one of the host nations in England, their historic rivals Scotland, 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia, and a new look Czech Republic. Who are the favourites to progress and what can be expected from the four teams? Read on to inform your Euro 2020 Group D predictions.

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Euro 2020: Group D prediction

Team

Pinnacle projected points

England

6.5

Croatia

4.5

Czech Republic

3.5

Scotland

2.5

Euro 2020: Group D schedule

All times listed are CEST (Central European Summer Time).

June 13, 14:00: Croatia vs. England

June 14, 14:00: Scotland vs. Czech Republic

June 18, 17:00: Croatia vs. Czech Republic

June 18, 20:00: England vs. Scotland

June 22, 21:00: Croatia vs. Scotland, Czech Republic vs. England

England

Manager: Gareth Southgate

Key Player: Jordan Henderson

FIFA World Ranking (April 2021): 4th

Recent performances: Euro 2016 – Round of 16, 2018 World Cup – Semi-finals

Odds to win Group D1.409*

Odds to win Euro 20204.350*

Pre-tournament favourites England come into Euro 2020 after a run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. The squad has seen plenty of change since then though with a number of talented players emerging to add to Gareth Southgate’s options.

Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden are two of Europe’s best young players and they add to existing attacking options including Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, and Marcus Rashford. Add Mason Mount and Jack Grealish to the mix and England’s attack should offer a different threat to the one that was handled successfully by group opponents Croatia in that 2018 semi-final.

The issue for Southgate has been finding a system that works with the talent at his disposal. Both the 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 formations have been trialled in the recent Nations League and World Cup qualifying matches with mixed success. The 3-4-3 system in particular looked vulnerable during defeats to Belgium and Denmark.

On top of the potential system issues, England have also had difficulties at times with progressing the ball through midfield. Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, and Jordan Henderson provide a solid base but lack some of the dynamism on the ball of some of the tournament’s elite midfielders. Chelsea’s Mason Mount may need to provide impetus to the midfield area if England are to break down organized defences.

Additionally, Jordan Pickford in the England goal has made errors which led to suggestions his starting place may be under threat. He has conceded slightly fewer goals than his Post-Shot Expected Goals Against (PSxG) this season, suggesting a fairly average shot-stopping performance compared to the tournament’s best goalkeepers.

Euro 2020 Goalkeepers Post-Shot Expected Goals (goals conceded)

Goalkeeper

PSxG+/- (20/21 per 90 minutes)

Hugo Lloris (France)

0.15

Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

0.10

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

0.07

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

0.03

Jordan Pickford (England)

0.01

Source

Nick Pope deputised for the injured Pickford in the March internationals but he lacks the Everton goalkeeper’s ability with his feet which could be pivotal as England look to build from the back. Again, goalkeeper is an area in which England arguably lag behind the other contenders for the trophy.

With a goalkeeper and midfield below the standard of teams with a lower probability of winning the tournament, England’s status as favourites undoubtedly has a lot to do with the home advantage they will receive by playing their matches at Wembley stadium. All three of England’s group games will be played at Wembley whilst the winners of Group D will play their round of 16 game at the iconic stadium. The semi-finals and final will also be played in London meaning that if all goes to plan, England could enjoy home advantage for seven of their eight matches.

However, just how beneficial this home advantage is depends on to what extent crowds are allowed into the venue. This is a tournament like no other and the usual advantages enjoyed by the hosts may not apply to the same degree here.

Croatia may not be the threat they were in 2018 but are likely to put up strong opposition to England in this group. Add in a tricky fixture against rivals Scotland and, although England should top this group, there is no guarantee that it will be by a comfortable margin. England can be backed to win the group at 1.409*. However, bettors who anticipate a trickier route out of Group D than expected for England can back the de facto hosts to win under 6.5 points at 1.833*.

Croatia

Manager: Zlatko Dalic

Key Player: Luka Modric

FIFA World Ranking (April 2021): 14th

Recent performances: Euro 2016 – Round of 16, 2018 World Cup – Runners-up

Odds to win Group D4.020*

Odds to win Euro 2020: 31.290*

2018 World Cup finalists Croatia defeated group and Euro 2020 favourites England on the way to that final. However, it is generally regarded that this Croatia team is inferior to the version that performed so well in 2018. That 2018 squad was a fitting end for a golden generation of players with four of the starters from that 2018 final retiring from international football.

This deprives star man Luka Modric, now 35, of several of the key players he combined with to great effect for many years. His long-time midfield partner Ivan Rakitic, starting goalkeeper Subasic, and Croatia’s second-highest all-time goalscorer Mario Mandzukic will be particularly big losses from the 2018 team.

That’s not to say Croatia don’t still possess far more talent than their population of four million would imply. In Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, Modric has two midfield partners in the prime of their careers playing at Europe’s highest levels. Younger players like Nikola Vlasic and Josip Brekalo can also add a spark of creativity even though they are not yet up to the standard of the players they have replaced.

Despite this quality, Croatia’s talent pool is restricted in quantity compared to their larger European rivals. England have added Sancho, Foden, Grealish, Greenwood, Mount, Saka, James, and more to their talent pool since defeat in Russia, whilst Croatia’s depth has been depleted. As a result, a lot will rest on Croatia’s talented starting 11, and in particular Modric, to remain fit throughout the duration of the tournament.

There is still enough quality in this Croatia team to make a run in this tournament under the right circumstances, however. With England’s inconsistency and Croatia’s experience, it’s certainly not unlikely for the Croats to achieve a positive result in the opening fixture of the group. Croatia can be backed at 4.020* to win Group D and make England’s tournament a lot more difficult.

An early injury to a key performer will have a bigger impact on Croatia than it would on their group rivals, however. Scotland and the Czech Republic could become problematic if the team is not at full strength. Croatia to win under 4.5 points is available at 1.606* which could be an interesting option if squad depth comes into play.

Czech Republic

Manager: Jaroslav Silhavy

Key Player: Patrick Schick

FIFA World Ranking (April 2021): 40th

Recent performances: Euro 2016 – Group stage, 2018 World Cup – Did not qualify

Odds to win Group D12.140*

Odds to win Euro 2020134.410*

The Czech Republic were once the perennial dark horses at Euros tournaments; however, they are not the force they once were. The Czech squad is rated as the sixth-least valuable heading into the tournament according to Transfermarkt, the lowest in Group D.

Despite this, they have performed admirably against superior opposition on a number of occasions in recent years. They achieved a victory over group opponents England during qualification for this tournament and held world number one-ranked Belgium to a draw in a World Cup qualifier in March.

The Czechs do possess the players to give teams like England and Croatia trouble on their day. West Ham’s Tomas Soucek is a well-known aerial threat and, whilst he hasn’t yet hit the heights expected of him when he burst onto the scene at Sampdoria, Patrick Schick is capable of producing flashes of brilliance that can decide tight games.

Add that to some solid defensive and midfield talent playing in Europe’s top leagues and you can see why the Czechs are well set up to cause upsets if things go in their favour. If they can keep games tight, then their threat from set pieces and on the counter-attack will keep them in matches until the end.

With the best third-placed teams qualifying for the Round of 16, a win against Scotland and a positive result against either England or Croatia would probably be enough to see the Czechs through the group stage. They are priced at 1.854* to qualify from Group D.

Scotland

Manager: Steve Clarke

Key Player: Andy Robertson

FIFA World Ranking (April 2021): 44th

Recent performances: Euro 2016 – Did not qualify, 2018 World Cup – Did not qualify

Odds to win Group D17.090*

Odds to win Euro 2020134.410*

This will be Scotland’s first tournament since the 1998 FIFA World Cup but despite their lack of recent tournament experience, there is some reason for the Scottish to be optimistic heading into Euro 2020.

Whilst they lack top-class attacking talent, the Scots boast a range of players with plenty of Premier League experience and a surprisingly deep squad. In terms of player valuation, the average valuation of each player in Scotland’s squad exceeds that of the more fancied Czech Republic. It is a long way from their rivals England however.

Average Transfermarkt value per player

Team

Average transfer market value per player (£m)

England

36.25

Croatia

12.60

Czech Republic

8.63

Scotland

5.78

One issue for Scotland is that their two most valuable players both play in the same position. Captain Andy Robertson is a European Cup and Premier League winner and widely rated as one of the best left-backs in the world. Kieran Tierney is one of the stronger left-backs in the Premier League. To accommodate both players in the same starting lineup, Tierney can be asked to play as the left centre-back in a back three with Robertson’s attacking talents on display in a more advanced left wing-back role.

The duo are supported by established Premier League talent in Scott McTominay, John McGinn, Ryan Fraser, and Che Adams with the rest of the squad sourced mainly from the weaker Scottish Premiership and the English second tier.

Whilst this provides a solid base for Scotland, they lack a creative spark capable of breaking down defences. A potential inclusion in their squad for this tournament to keep an eye on is Ryan Gauld who has notched 15 goal contributions for struggling Farense in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, 50% of their league goal total. His inclusion could add some creativity for a side that can be a bit predictable at times.

Che Adams’ international switch to Scotland certainly improves their threat in front of goal. If the Scottish midfield can create opportunities for the Southampton striker it is likely he will take one.

All things considered, the odds are perhaps a little harsh on the Scots considering the talent at their disposal. The opening game against the Czech Republic could decide how their tournament progresses. A win allows the Scots to play their more natural defensive game against the more talented Croatia and England teams since a further point would most likely put them through. A defeat, however, would put the Scots in serious difficulty if they then need to go on the attack against opponents that can exploit any gaps in their defence.

Scotland’s 2.5 projected points total does feel a little on the low side. They can be backed at 1.833* to surpass this mark; however, a better value bet may be to back them to simply beat the Czech Republic in their opening fixture at 3.370*.

Looking forward to Euro 2020? Win Your Way by checking out the latest Euro 2020 odds on every match and group, outright markets, and more with Pinnacle.

*Odds subject to change



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