ENGLAND take on Czech Republic at Wembley in Group D on Tuesday. James Cantrill (@JimmyThePunt) shares his thoughts on the fixture.
Czech Republic vs England | Tuesday 22nd June 2020, 20:00 | ITV
Around 12:30 nine days ago, as England’s team news for their opening game vs Croatia started to filter through to fans, #SouthgateOut was trending on Twitter. Two holding midfielders, a right back at left back and no Jack Grealish, what is he thinking? However, come 16:30, following an efficient performance against an aging side, it was coming home and in Southgate we trust.
Then a simularaly lackluster performance without the result to match against Scotland and questions over England’s XI resurface, why hasn’t Sancho gotten any minutes?
Although four points on the board after two games is a respectable return, a convincing performance and victory at Wembley this evening will be the best tonic to settle the nerves of the wayward English faithful.
As for Sancho and Grealish they could be in luck as Phil Foden is one card away from a suspension and Mason Mount has been forced to isolate after coming into close contact with Billy Gilmour. Therefore, the mercurial pair could be in line to start and inject some pace into England’s pedestrian attack. Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire are expected to feature from the off in order to build their fitness ahead of the knockout rounds.
As for the Czech Republic, they have a relatively settled side. The only speculation with them lies in who will partner Tomas Soucek in midfield; Tomas Holes or Alex Kral?
As for my selections, I did like the look of England to win to nil but that at around 5/4 I think there are better ways to squeeze some more value out of an England victory. SBK have the best prices on the correct scores of England to win 1-0 and England to win 2-0 and I think dutching these is the smarter option.
Since the World Cup the Three Lions have played 31 games, they have won 23 of these fixtures, keeping clean sheets in 20 and just under 70% of these victories came to nil. Whilst it is worth noting the majority of these wins were not by either a one or two goal margin, they occurred quite some time ago against smaller nations such as Bulgaria, San Marino and Montenegro.
It also does allude to Southgate’s sound defensive record and tentative approach that often sees England dominate fixtures- in terms of possession- and dictate the tempo.
This calendar year, England have played seven games- including the two in Euro 2020- only conceding one goal in that time. This period has seen us beat Croatia, Romania and Austria 1-0 and Albania 2-0. Therefore, if England are going to get the job done at Wembley I suspect it will be an efficient performance.
Another angle I like for this game is Jack Grealish’s direct opponent to be carded. Grealish’s offensive data in the EPL last season was simply staggering. He drew an average of 4.2 fouls per game- a total of 167 fouls drawn- he topped the leagues charts for progressive carries, carries into the final third and ranked fourth for carries into the penalty area. In short he loves to dribble and gets kicked all over the gaff.
There is some uncertainty as to where he will start- in the last game he played on the left but could play centrally here- therefore, it is tricky to work out exactly who his direct opponent will be. Nevertheless, I think whoever starts alongside Soucek in midfield poses the best value price wise.