Tag Archives: Euro 2020

Italy vs Spain – Euro 2020 semi-finals prediction

The European Championships has it’s final four participants and they have set up two huge semi-final clashes at Wembley Stadium.

Italy, Spain, England and Denmark have seen off competition from 20 other teams to make it to this stage of the tournament and now must go head-to-head to make it to the final on Sunday night.

First up is Italy vs Spain on Tuesday night and here’s everything you need to know about the fixture and then my prediction to go with it.


Last time out:

The quarter-final stage threw up some truly brilliant games of football, filled with high drama and quality across the board.

Italy took on world number one ranked Belgium in their last eight clash and came out on top in a highly entertaining encounter. Roberto Mancini’s side played fast-paced, intense pressing football and were able to keep the ball for much of the game.

Unai Simon and Mikel Oyarzabal of Spain celebrating during the European championship EURO 2020 between Switzerland and Spain at Gazprom Arena. .

They scored two finely worked goals and other than a slightly late challenge that allowed Romelu Lukaku to score a penalty, they were imperious defensively in their traditional way to earn a 2-1 win inside 90 minutes.

Spain on the other hand found themselves up against Switzerland and while they dominated the ball for large portions of the game they once again struggled to turn chances into goals.

They took the lead early on through Denis Zakaria’s own goal and while they missed several chances again, it allowed the Swiss to get back into the game following an error from Pau Torres for Xherdan Shaqiri to slot home.

The game was open and back and forth from that point on which led to a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of action, which they came out on top of 3-2 after five penalties each.


Team news:

Italy unfortunately lost their player of the tournament so far in Leonardo Spinazzola against Belgium when he suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in the second half, ruling him out for the rest of 2021.

Leonardo Spinazzola of Italy is carried off on a stretcher during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at...

His absence means we should see the arrival of Emerson Palmieri of Chelsea into the starting lineup at left-back, meaning a natural left-footer and just as much attacking impetus. Marco Verratti’s form since returning from injury has been excellent so he should continue to start ahead of Manuel Locatelli while Federico Chiesa is likely to keep his place out wide ahead of Domenico Berardi.

Spain on the other hand have no new injury worries ahead of the semi-final clash, but they are likely to make changes after being taken to extra-time in both of their knockout ties so far.

The midfield three of Sergio Busquets, Koke and Pedri will likely remain intact but Eric Garcia could return to centre-back ahead of Pau Torres while Jose Gaya could take the place of Jordi Alba, although that is less likely.

In attack however Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres are pushing for starts ahead of Pablo Sarabia and Gerard Moreno, while Adama Traore and Mikel Oyarzabal are yet to start any games at this tournament.


Predicted lineups:

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Jorginho, Barella, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne

Spain: Simon; Azpilicueta, Laporte, Garcia, Alba; Busquets, Koke, Pedri; Torres, Morata, Olmo


Prediction:

This game is set up to be absolutely brilliant. Two teams who work relentlessly when out of possession to win it back and look to dominate the ball.

Players of Italy celebrate at the end of the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at Football Arena Munich on...

Normally you’d expect a battle for ball possession to be won by the Spanish, but this Italy squad is incredibly gifted on the ball and for my money they’re more likely to have the edge there. They’re also better defensively by a country mile, but the pace and energy of the Spanish side could cause them some issues.

Overall though, this is Italy’s tie (and tournament) to lose. They’re the better team overall, playing the better football currently and will have fitness and momentum on their side to reach the final.

PREDICTION
Italy 2-1 Spain

Ukraine vs England – Euro 2020 quarter-final predictions

The European Championships have reached the business end of the competition as the quarter-finals loom large.

Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Czech Republic will do battle for their spot in the top four, while England will also be part of the run-in when they take on Ukraine on Saturday night.

In a big clash in Rome, Gareth Southgate’s side will go head-to-head with Andriy Shevchenko’s underdogs as they look to set up a clash against the winners of the Denmark vs Czech tie in the final four at Wembley


Route to the final:

Ukraine were the plucky underdogs in their group but they were able to come through as one of the best third-placed teams in the competition.

An opening game defeat to the Oranje saw an entertaining 3-2 game go against them, but they bounced back with a comfortable win over North Macedonia before losing again to Austria. They made it through to the last eight thanks to a 120th minute winner against Sweden in a 2-1 victory.

England on the other hand are unbeaten and the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal. They got a win against Croatia in the opening game, before a 0-0 draw against Scotland. They then topped the group with a win over the Czech Republic, before a fantastic performance saw them despatch of Germany 2-0, with Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane getting their third and first goals of the tournament respectively.


Team news:

Ukraine will be hopeful that their captain and star man Andriy Yarmolenko is fit to play after he limped off with an injury in the round of 16 tie. Denys Popov and Artem Besedin are ruled out while Oleksandr Zubov is a doubt.

England have a fully fit squad to choose from but must be careful as Harry Maguire, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden a yellow card away from missing the semi-final. Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell are available to start after their isolation period ended on the day of the Germany game.


Predicted Lineups:

Ukraine: Bushchan; Zabarnyi, Kryvtsov, Matvienko; Karavaev, Shaparenko, Stepanenko, Sydorchuk, Zinchenko; Yaremchuk, Yarmolenko

England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Henderson; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane.


Prediction:

Andriy Shevchenko has made his team incredibly difficult to beat despite them losing half their games in the tournament so far. They defend well, counter attack even better and have a fantastic spirit and level of togetherness in the squad.

With that said, England have been excellent despite not being spectacular. Defensively they’ve barely been tested and while they’ve not exactly created a host of chances in their games so far, they’re taking the ones that do fall to them.

Gareth Southgate’s side are the favourites but they have got far more quality in the squad, better options off the bench, more tactical flexibility and the idea of a home semi-final and final to work towards. They should come away with a convincing win after a nervy period somewhere in the middle of the game.

Ukraine 0-2 England

Italy vs Belgium – Euro 2020 quarter-final predictions

It’s been a fantastic tournament so far and we’re now entering the business end of the competition as the quarter-finals roll around.

England, Ukraine, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Denmark have all made it into latest round of the competition with highly entertaining wins and now we have four sets of incredible ties to come to see who makes it to Wembley for the semi-finals and final.

In the best tie of the round, the only team left in the Euro 2020 competition with a 100% record inside 90 minutes Belgium take on one of the favourites in Italy.


Route to the final:

Italy came through their group unscathed with 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland before a 1-0 win over Wales with a heavily rotated side. They then met Austria in the last 16 and were taken to the limit in normal time, before Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina scored in extra-time to earn a 2-1 win after 120 minutes.

Belgium were also dominant in their group with a 3-0 win over Russia, before coming from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 and then defeating Finland 2-0 in the final game. That set them up with a round of 16 clash against reigning champions Portugal, where a Thorgan Hazard screamer on the stroke of half-time earned them the win in a close fought game.


Team news:

That game didn’t come without it’s problems though, as both Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard picked up injuries that forced them to come off the pitch and they are now severe doubts to start the game against Italy.

That means Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco are likely to start for the Red Devils as they did in the opening game of the tournament, while Romelu Lukaku will continue in attack.

For Italy, they will welcome captain Giorgio Chiellini back from a minor hamstring problem that saw him miss the win over Austria. Marco Verratti is likely to retain his place in the team over Manuel Locatelli, while Chiesa is expected to get the nod over Domenico Berardi after his match-winning contribution last time out.


Predicted Lineups:

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Jorginho, Barella, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens, Lukaku, T. Hazard


Prediction:

It should be the tie of the round and could arguably produce the game of the tournament, which would be something after the last round.

Italy are the better team in my eyes. They are more organised, better defensively and have good quality going forward too. Belgium are still a very good team though, they’re not ranked number one in the world for no reason, but they don’t look the most solid defensively.

Normally I’d give Belgium the advantage because of the added individual quality they have that could separate a tight game, but with De Bruyne and Hazard both likely to miss the game that factor is eliminated.

Because of that I think Italy will be able to keep it tight at the back and in a fascinating, tactical encounter, they’ll come away with a win thanks to a set-piece goal.

Italy 1-0 Belgium

Is England’s potential being held back by lacklustre coaching?

England secured top spot in their Euro 2020 group with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic last Tuesday but apart from the opening 20 minutes, could you say that was a performance worthy of being billed as one of the tournaments favourites?

There was a marginal improvement from their dismal display against Scotland, however the issues remain present.

This is one of the most talented group of England players in a generation, particularly in the forward options. But this potential is being stifled by the incompetent and negative tactics from Gareth Southgate.

Southgate has been in charge since 2017 and yet still seems afraid to let England off the leash with his continued use of two defensive midfielders.

Playing Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice together has caused a lack of pace and creativity in the side with the two of them preferring to pass sideways or backwards rather than looking to get the ball forward quickly. England should not be fearing sides like Scotland and the Czech Republic.

Many fans have been calling for Jack Grealish to come into the starting eleven to give England that spark and imagination that they’ve been sorely lacking. He got his chance on Tuesday night and was one of England’s better performers, setting up Raheem Sterling with a beautifully weighted cross.

But Southgate was forced into that change as Mason Mount had to self isolate after coming into contact with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who had tested positive for COVID-19. Had this not happened, we would have probably seen the same eleven he picked in the previous game.

His use of Jadon Sancho has also been odd as the Dortmund winger has only had six minutes game time so far, despite an impressive season in Germany with 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions.

With a crunch game against Germany on the horizon in the last 16, England have the quality to beat them but it remains to be seen whether Southgate sticks with Grealish in the side or reverts back to type.

Based on his decision making in the past games it is more likely to be the latter.

It would be a shame for the likes of Phil Foden, Grealish and Sancho to not replicate their club form for their country due to having a manager that is more afraid of losing than going on the offensive. These players deserve better than that, and so do the fans.

News that Southgate is likely to be offered a new contract doesn’t sit well, but that’s the England national team all over.

Memphis shining brightest just before Barcelona move

It took a year longer than expected but Memphis Depay is officially a Barcelona player.

After the expiry of his Lyon contract, Memphis has moved to join his former national team manager Ronald Koeman on a free transfer and will rock the famous red and blue shirt next season alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Pedri, Frenkie De Jong and other superstars.

He’s celebrating the move while competing at Euro 2020 for the Netherlands and he’s showing why Barcelona were interested in him.

I said last year that Barcelona were crazy to be looking at him, simply because he’s not the player he once was expected to be.

But watching him during the last campaign with Lyon and also with Holland, he is showing exactly why Koeman was so desperate to make him part of the side last summer.

During Euro 2020, Memphis has been my player of the tournament throughout the group stages. His pace has been tremendous, he’s shown quick feet, he’s one of the top scorers in the competition with three goals, has two assists in the three games but has been influential in everything Netherlands have done well.

He’s played as one of a front-two, pressing well and helping to lead counter attacks. He’s also played out on the left, drifting in to cause problems with good ball retention and a good relationship with wing-back Patrick Van Aanholt.

If you contrast that to Barcelona and the way they played under Koeman, he is a perfect fit. He’ll link well with Jordi Alba out wide, he can link with Messi and/or Antoine Griezmann in a central position and is capable of playing different systems and styles.

His final product has become less flashy over time and more about efficiency, but he hasn’t lost the swagger in his play that makes him entertaining to watch.

Koeman’s Barcelona overcame a really tough start to push themselves to the brink of a La Liga title, so with the squad that the manager wants you’d expect that they’d only improve.

Lionel Messi is going to re-sign with the club after being made to see the progress that has been made so he will be rejuvenated and motivated to do better. Alongside someone who thrives in having the pressure on him like Memphis does, that could only help Barcelona.

As for Holland, they are one of only three teams to have progressed with a 100% record into the round of 16 at Euro 2020 and have a favourable draw in the competition.

Their performances have been pushed to the moon by the form of Memphis, Gini Wijnaldum, Frenkie De Jong and Denzel Dumfries. The Netherlands are back and with Memphis leading the line, anything is possible for the famous Oranje.

England team that should start against Czech Republic at Euro 2020

England face a crunch Euro 2020 final group game against Czech Republic tonight, and only a win will see them qualify as group winners.

A win over Croatia was followed up with a draw against Scotland, meaning that they have four points from two games just like the Czech’s. But with the visitors on Tuesday night having a better goal difference following their 2-0 win over the Scots, a draw would see them win the group ahead of England.

Gareth Southgate will be without Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell for the game after they were forced to self-isolate following close contact with Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for COVID-19 after the England-Scotland game on Friday night.

So who should start the game that England must win to get their tournament really kick-started? This would be my team:


Jordan Pickford (GK)

England’s best available goalkeeper so he should start. Yet to really be tested during the tournament but has kept two clean sheets and his passing and claiming of crosses has been good, so no need to change anything there.

Kyle Walker (RB)

John Stones of England controls the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on June...

Walker was hot and cold against Croatia but without him against Scotland, England looked stale. His pace is a powerful tool in both directions while his ability on the ball is more than adequate to help build from the back, he’s England best option in the position and should start.

John Stones (CB)

The Manchester City centre-back came closest to breaking the deadlock against Scotland when he headed against the post. That aerial ability has been on show throughout the tournament but also his one-on-one defensive qualities and passing have continued to shine through and he should keep his place.

Harry Maguire (CB)

Manchester United’s captain has yet to kick a ball at this tournament so far and England haven’t conceded a goal yet, but he should come into the side for this one. Defensively he is excellent aerially and as a leader, while also being far better on the ball than Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady. Must start.

Luke Shaw (LB)

Shaw was called into the side for the Scotland game but struggled to make an impact as he wasn’t really allowed to push on too much. That must change in this game if England are to have success and he is the best attacking left-back in the squad. With Chilwell out due to COVID protocols, he must start.

Declan Rice (CM)

Rice is a solid defensive outlet when it comes his midfield role but progressing the ball against a low block defence is not his strongest attribute. With that said, England can’t afford to lose the game and he is comfortably the best defensive midfielder in the squad. He should be in there for added protection but his role should be simple – win the ball back and give it to the more talented players.

Jude Bellingham (CM)

Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham of England in action during the England Training Session at St George's Park on June 14, 2021 in Burton upon Trent,...

The last thing England need to do in this game is play with two holding midfielders, so it’s the perfect chance for young Bellingham to make his mark on the tournament. More than comfortable in every role as a central midfielder, the 18-year-old would offer terrific balance and some added attacking quality in the final third where needed.

Jadon Sancho (RW)

He’s yet to get his boots dirty in this tournament but Sancho is more than deserving of some action in this tournament now. England have really struggled creatively so far and only Harry Kane had more goal involvements during the last campaign. Sancho has pace, skill, great combination play with passing and has a killer pass and eye for goal so would be the perfect man to bring in to a struggling side.

Jack Grealish (CAM)

It was a surprise that he didn’t start against Croatia and during the 27 minutes he got against Scotland he wasn’t able to do much, but Grealish deserves the nod here. He has the flair and playing style perfectly suited to international football and has shown time and again in an England shirt that he can perform. With Mount unavailable, he’s the obvious choice to step in to the number ten position.

Marcus Rashford (LW)

Raheem Sterling remains the only man to score for England so far in this tournament but his performances have been far from excellent. Marcus Rashford was second in the entire England squad for goal contributions last season (tied with Sancho) and has come on in both games but struggled to get into them. A start here would give him that chance, with his eye for goal and direct style precisely what England have been lacking.

Harry Kane (ST)

As if it was ever in doubt, Southgate has already confirmed that his captain and star striker will start this game. The Tottenham man is yet to even have a shot on target in the tournament but he’s always been a man for the big occasion and there is no bigger stage than now, so expect him to finally make his arrival with a goal in this one.

The England lineup that should start against Scotland at Euro 2020

England look to secure qualification into the round of 16 at the first attempt at Euro 2020 with a win over Scotland in match day 2.

Raheem Sterling’s goal in the second half gave the Three Lions a well deserved 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening game, in a performance that did the country proud.

Manager Gareth Southgate will now need to make some tough decisions in the team against Scotland, with England expected to control possession more and their home nation rivals likely to line up in a very defensive manner.

Does Southgate stick to a winning formula or make some changes to keep everyone in the 26-man squad on their toes and in rhythm? This is the England team that should start against Scotland for us.

Jordan Pickford (GK)

The Everton stopper’s number one shirt was in doubt before the original tournament in 2020 but he kept his shirt for the opener when Nick Pope went down injured and was ruled out of the tournament before the squad was picked.

His position is even further cemented now with Dean Henderson’s withdrawal from the squad, so he is now comfortably the best keeper available and should start.

Kyle Walker (RB)

Walker had a good performance against Croatia in the opening game and with Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson being deployed in a wing-back role, Walker’s pace and strength will be needed to ensure he doesn’t get a free ride out wide all night.

He’s good in possession against low block sides too, with his experience playing for Manchester City and as the best full-back in the squad he deserves to start again.

John Stones (CB)

Harry Maguire of England looks on during the England Training Session at St George's Park on June 17, 2021 in Burton upon Trent, England.

He was the best fit centre-back England had in the first game and he turned in a performance to back it up too. Great ability on the ball, fantastic aerially in both boxes and a very good one-on-one defender, barring the odd brain fart he gets he’s got the tools to be one of the best England have.

His ability on the ball will see him be key to England building up play from the back and he’ll be a threat at set-pieces too, so he starts again.

Harry Maguire (CB)

He’s missed around a month of action with an ankle ligament injury, but after training for the last week since the Croatia game Maguire is available to play and therefore should start.

Southgate says he will play a part but is unsure of if he’ll start yet, but he’d be better off starting when the intensity is higher to really see if he is fit enough to play. Mings was excellent against Croatia in the opening game so England can trust that they have a solid deputy if needed but it’s the perfect game to give Maguire a start in.

Luke Shaw (LB)

Kieran Trippier got the shock nod at left-back in the opening game, but against a side likely to play a low block stretching the pitch will be key.

That means a natural left footer should play at left-back and Shaw was the best left-back in the country last season and therefore deserves his shot at starting in a major tournament. His partnership at club level with Maguire will be helpful too but his pace and passing going forward will help England unlock the Scottish defence.

Declan Rice (CM)

Gary Neville described Rice as one of the two undroppable players in the England team along with Harry Kane and while I don’t necessarily agree, he is hard to replace.

Quite comfortably the best defensive midfielder England have, Rice’s positioning and tackling go hand-in-hand with his reading of the game and make him a key part of the jigsaw of a Southgate team. He’ll need to be better on the ball in a game like this, with more progressive passes and bravery, but his reliability defensively adds some protection to an otherwise attacking team.

Jude Bellingham of England gets between Josip Brekalo and Luka Modric of Croatia during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England...

Jude Bellingham (CM)

This will seem harsh to many because of just how good Kalvin Phillips was against Croatia, but this is the type of game where I want someone in a deeper midfield role with more of a natural attacking burst.

Bellingham has the ability to help out defensively where needed but also has a killer pass on him, ability to drive past players and can score goals too. Getting players into a rhythm in case they’re called upon is key for a tournament and Bellingham is good enough to get a start and make a difference.

Raheem Sterling (RW)

Most people didn’t have Sterling starting the opener, but he turned in a great performance where he was the most dangerous attacker and got the only goal of the game.

The confidence he’ll take from that game will be big for the rest of the tournament and he should be allowed to ride that momentum into this game too. Pace, direct running, a great dribbler and excellent movement from out-to-in make him the perfect outlet for England against the Scotland back five and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him score once again.

Mason Mount (CAM)

Ideally I probably wouldn’t play Mount in this game and certainly not in this position, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to start so I’ve included him.

Raheem Sterling of England celebrates with Mason Mount after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match...

He’s a top player, with an excellent touch and lots of intelligence around the way he moves around the pitch with and without the ball but against Croatia he looked quite flat after a bright start. In a game like this he will need to be at his brilliant best (which is more likely than not to be fair) and his combination play with the front three around him will be key to opening Scotland up.

Jack Grealish (LW)

There was general shock around the exclusion of Grealish from the starting team against Croatia after his performances in the warm-up games, but I expect him to come back into the side here.

Phil Foden got the nod in that game but aside from hitting the post early on he was quite ineffective in the opening game. Grealish’s direct running and ability to slow a game down then flick a switch to up the tempo is exactly what England need in a game such like this, where Scotland will set up deep and look to frustrate them.

Harry Kane (ST)

He starts when he’s fit and available and rightly so. England’s best striker in a long time but also arguably one of the best in the world, he has every type of finish in his arsenal and is also one of the best creators in the squad so you’d be silly to have a team without him in the starting lineup.

Italy, Portugal & France set pace at Euro 2020 but Spain are dark horses

Euro 2020’s first round of matches has come to an end and we’ve been shown who the true contenders for the title are already.

It is one of the more stacked tournaments in recent memory, with several top sides coming into the competition with an expectation upon them that they make it to the latter stages.

But following the first round of group games being completed, three teams in particular have stood out as ones to watch more than any other.

Italy opened up the tournament with a 3-0 win over Turkey in Rome, where they really took their pre-tournament dark horses tag literally and turned in a fantastic performance. Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne added to an own goal but the way they kept a high tempo, pressed hard and passed the ball quickly was a joy to watch.

Their home advantage definitely will have helped to spur them on but defensively they still look as solid as they are historically know for being, but going forward they have lots of options and dynamism which stands them in good stead going forward.

Portugal are another side who started the tournament very well. It was a close game against Hungary, in front of a capacity crowd of 61,000 fans in Budapest, but Portugal largely dominated proceedings with some bad decisions and execution in the final third costing them.

They eventually found their rhythm late on though and scored three goals in the final ten minutes to put Hungary to the sword and earn themselves three points – as many as they earned in the entire group stage in 2016.

Also in their group are the last two World champions France and Germany, who played out a highly entertaining game later on Tuesday evening. Mats Hummels’ own goal in the end was the difference, but the French side played a great game that saw them control the tempo for the most part.

They had two goals disallowed for marginal offside calls too to show they are a threat going forward, while Germany didn’t really create any clear cut chances the other way.

But Spain’s performance during the competition is one that has largely divided opinion.

Luis Enrique’s side enjoyed 80% of possession against Sweden in their opening game but after missing a host of chances during the game they could only secure themselves a 0-0 draw – the only one of the tournament so far.

While some claimed they “defended with the ball” by just playing the ball side-to-side with little penetration, I saw it very differently.

They played with a high tempo, moved the ball quickly and Pedri in particular stood out as someone who looked to make those incisive passes in behind the low block of Sweden’s defence. The only thing they were missing was a clinical finisher in goal.

Alvaro Morata, as usual, missed the majority of those but Spain were threatening enough and kept the ball well enough to make me think that that isn’t something that will trouble them long term.

They have options in the squad that can score, with the likes of 30-goal Gerard Moreno, but also Morata can’t keep missing all his chances. The likes of Dani Olmo, Adama Traore, Pablo Sarabia, Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal are also all capable of finding the net, so it’s not like Spain are going to struggle for depth.

I’m not saying they’re going to waltz to a tournament win here, not by any stretch, but with their style of play and the fact they’re clearly very well drilled in that methodology the results will only improve over time.

Against the top sides they will absolutely need to be more clinical, but they are well set up to get far in this tournament and depending on their route and getting a bit of lucky you cannot rule them all the way out just yet.

The England team that should start against Croatia at Euro 2020

It’s finally here, England’s opening game of Euro 2020 takes place in a little over 48 hours.

After the 2018 World Cup run that saw Gareth Southgate’s side make it all the way to the semi-finals, there is revenge on the mind as they take on Croatia once again at Wembley on Sunday in the opening game of Group D.

With Harry Maguire ruled out through injury, the manager has a decision to make based on fitness and system of who will start the important fixture with a good start paramount to any success they chase.

With that said, lets take a look at the starting lineup that should be fielded by Southgate and England against Croatia.


Jordan Pickford (GK)

The goalkeeper position seemed to really be up for grabs at the start of the season, with Pickford’s place in jeopardy because of bad form.

But Nick Pope’s injury ruled him out of the tournament and with Dean Henderson not nailing down a number one spot with Manchester United and Sam Johnstone getting relegated, Southgate will keep the faith with the Everton stopper.

Kyle Walker (RCB)

No Maguire means England are likely to revert to their three/five at the back system that got them so far in Russia.

Kyle Walker of England and John Stones of England celebrate at the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Sweden and...

That means a return to centre-back for Manchester City’s first-choice right-back, who provided great cover and ability on the ball from the right side of the three during that tournament. While his pace would be missed out wide, England full-back options are so strong that the decision won’t be nearly as thought about as it was back then.

John Stones (LCB)

The Man City man enjoyed the best season of his career this past year, proving essential to the winning mahcine in central defence.

While he’s far more comfortable on the right hand side, he’s good in one-on-one duels and is good with the ball with both feet. He’s a far better defender and footballer than Tyrone Mings so despite the Villa man being a left-footer, Stones gets the nod on this side for me.

Conor Coady (CB)

The central position would have been Maguire’s almost certainly, but without him it should go to the Wolves captain.

I personally didn’t have Coady in my squad because I think there are better English defenders than him available, but his experience playing in the centre of a back-three for Wolves could be essential here. He’s comfortable on the ball playing out from the back, but also happy to throw his body on the line and is a natural leader. He gets the nod for me.

Reece James (RWB)

Fresh off winning the UEFA Champions League in this position, James has to get the nod here.

A supreme athlete, James is strong as a bull and quick enough to completely nullify Raheem Sterling during the final last month. He’s great defensively when in one-on-one situations and is good in the air, plus his composure on the ball has seen him play in central midfield in the past.

He has a great delivery too which will only help Harry Kane in attack, so it’s position to lose.

Declan Rice (CM)

A stellar campaign for West Ham United saw Rice just miss out on Champions League football with his club, but he has earned plenty of praise from the big boys in the country.

England's Mason Mount and Declan Rice at the end of the game during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier match between England and Bulgaria at Wembley...

A solid defensive midfielder, Rice is great defensively. He reads the game very well, intercepts attacks and is a great tackler while also being able to carry the ball forward in a counter attack if necessary. With that said, his passing through the lines is a bit iffy and he’ll need someone more attack minded next to him but he deserves his starting spot.

Mason Mount (CM)

Chelsea’s player of the year and the man who provided the match-winning assist in the Champions League final, Mount has earned his place in the England side this summer.

High energy, a great presser, comfortable on the ball in tight spaces and creative Mount is a perfect partner in central midfield alongside his childhood best friend Rice. While not a natural central midfielder in a two he has all the attributes to play the role and adds a bit more of an attacking intent to the lineup in a defensive formation.

Luke Shaw (LWB)

England’s best left-back this season by a distance, Shaw has fought his way back in from the wilderness to be his nation’s first-choice. Despite Ben Chilwell’s performances helping Chelsea’s European successes, Shaw should start.

He was brilliant from about November onwards and had a career-best season in terms of goals and assists, registering more assists than any other defender in the Premier League in 2021. He has great pace, power, is a solid passer of the ball and is high on confidence and would be my pick to start.

Jack Grealish (CAM)

The man of the year, the people’s champion. Jack Grealish HAS to start for England this summer.

He had a true breakout season in the Premier League with Aston Villa this year and was in the conversation for player of the year before a shin injury saw him miss 12 games of the season at a crucial period.

England player Marcus Rashford celebrates his goal with Jack Grealish during the international friendly match between England and Romania at...

Since returning from injury though he has shone in both warm-up games for England with his ball carrying ability, his passing and his creativity and it would be a crime if he wasn’t rewarded with a starting place for the tournament opener.

Marcus Rashford (CAM)

Maybe a controversial pick, but Rashford has to start for me. 22 goals and 15 assists for Manchester United this season is a remarkable output for a 23-year-old attacker and he has proven he really is one of the best attackers in the league.

With the formation selected, England will have plenty of width from their wing-backs and with Grealish dropping deep to collect the ball and create, Rashford’s pace and directness will be key for England to create any openings.

He’s a good finisher and his one-on-one abilities against defenders will have Croatia worried, so he should get the nod as one of the two behind Harry Kane.

Harry Kane (ST)

The captain and the best player the country has, if one position in the team is a lock it’s Kane’s.

The Spurs man is coming off the best season of his career domestically with his club, where he won the golden boot and the playmaker award for most goals and assists in the Premier League. He has a propensity to drop deep which would allow him to create and link with other attacking players but also create space for Rashford to run in behind too. He starts so long as he’s even half fit.

Euro 2020: Young players to watch

Euro 2020 is upon us after a 12-month delay and it means there will be plenty of faces at the tournament this summer that wouldn’t have been originally.

24 nations will compete to be crowned champions of Europe while playing across 11 cities on the continent, but many will be relying on young players in their squads to fill a role.

Whether that role be as a starter, competition for a place, an impact sub or just filling numbers and earning experience there are plenty of quality youngsters that will be involved. With the tournament kicking off tomorrow, here are five youngsters to keep a close eye on.

Pedri

The Barcelona youngster made a very big impression in his first season with the first-team under Ronald Koeman.

Originally coming through as a winger, the 18-year-old moved over into central midfield as the season progressed and made the role his own alongside Frenkie De Jong and Sergio Busquets. A fantastic passer, Pedri is also a great dribbler and breaks the lines well. Defensively his work rate is excellent too and while he faces plenty of competition to get into the side, once he gets his chance I fully expect him take it with both hands.

His transition from Las Palmas to Barcelona was seamless, and I expect his transition to international football will be just as good.

Jamal Musiala

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After coming through the Chelsea academy and representing England at youth level, Jamal Musiala made the move to Germany with Bayern Munich and chose to represent the country of his birth at international level.

At just 18-years-old, Musiala established himself as part of Bayern’s first-team squad this season and made 39 appearances, scoring seven times. Playing mostly as a number ten when he did play, his willingness to play on the half-turn and confidence to try things with the ball really set him apart from the rest of the players his age.

His end product is great and he won’t be expected to play much, but if given the chance he is good enough to make an impact against any defence he may come up against.

Phil Foden

This might be a bit of a cop out since Foden has been on everyone’s list for a couple of years, but if this tournament took place last year as it was meant to then he wouldn’t have been in the squad.

This season though he had a superb campaign with Manchester City, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year and registering double digits for goals and assists across all competitions. Brilliant passing, a delicate first touch, driving dribbling and versatile with the positions he can play, Foden will be right in Gareth Southgate’s thinking for the England team

He’s probably the one who will play the biggest role for his nation during this tournament and is a superstar in the making.

Nuno Mendes

Nuno Mendes of Portugal controls the ball during the international friendly match between Spain and Portugal at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June...

The only defender on this list comes from the reigning European champions and is another player who has benefited from the tournament being delayed by a year.

Playing as a left-back or left wing-back for Sporting CP this season, the Lisbon side won the league for the first time in 19 years and Mendes was a big part of that. His pace is tremendous and his drive with the ball makes him a constant threat going forward.

He started both warm-up games in the build up tournament and it seems that he is the new first-choice left-back ahead of Raphael Guerreiro, so he has some big shoes to fill.

Ryan Gravenberch

Holland are well known for producing absolute gems when it comes to young players, but Gravenberch might be the best one in a little while.

The Ajax starlet broke into the first-team this season as they won another Eredivisie title and played a starring role in central midfield. Compared to Paul Pogba because of his tall frame but brilliant technical ability, the 18-year-old has got all the attributes to really dominate a midfield and control a midfield.

Alongside the experience of Gini Wijnaldum and composure of De Jong in midfield, Gravenberch has a great chance of making a real name for himself this summer.