All eyes will be on Group D at Euro 2020 on Tuesday, with England and Scotland both hoping to reach the last 16.
England will only top Group D if they beat Czech Republic at Wembley after their disappointing 0-0 draw with Scotland on Friday, which has attracted widespread criticism for the hosts’ lethargic performance, including that of captain Harry Kane – who at this stage in World Cup 2018 had already scored five goals.
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With England’s fate still in their own hands, and having beaten World Cup finalists Croatia in their opening game, winger Raheem Sterling – scorer of their only goal of the tournament so far – said the response to the stalemate with the Three Lions’ oldest rivals had been over the top.
“I do feel there’s a bit of an over-reaction,” Sterling said. “I just feel there’s more of a panic on the outside than inside the building. At the same time, the players who have been at a few tournaments, who have huge experience, try to help the other ones.”
England’s preparations for their final group match have been thrown into difficulty with the decision to put Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell into isolation, because they were seen hugging Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who has since tested positive for Covid-19, after that previous game.
“I can’t say it isn’t disruptive,” England coach Gareth Southgate said on Monday. “We don’t really know at this point whether they might be OK for tomorrow, or they could be out for 10 days. So there are a lot of unknowns.”
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Scotland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their game against Croatia at Hampden Park after Gilmour’s positive test, meaning he will miss Tuesday’s must-win game. Anything less than three points will guarantee Scotland are eliminated from their first tournament finals for 23 years at the first hurdle.
Manager Steve Clarke said: “If we keep creating the chances we’ve created; if we keep having the shots at goal we’ve had in previous matches, then you’d like to think that Lady Luck will be on our side and one of them will hit the back of the net.
“Billy’s upset as you would expect. He’s asymptomatic. Hopefully he’ll get back to playing as quickly as possible. It’s a blow for us. But it’s a chance for someone else to come into the team.”
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was more dispassionate in his response, adding: “Gilmour played really well against England but up to that game he was never a first-choice option and he may not have even started against us.
“The conditions should be the same for all. They’re not the same for all. I wish for Gilmour to recover well. And I don’t wish for any more Scottish players to test positive.
“I don’t see his absence as our advantage because whoever replaces him will be a more experienced player. Having said that, I wish Gilmour a speedy recovery.”
Croatia have under performed at this summer’s tournament – losing to England and drawing against the Czech Republic – and face their own battle to reach the last 16.
“This is our last chance to qualify for the knockout stages and we have to do everything in our power to make it happen, Dalic said. “Scotland have shown their quality against England but we have to head out to the pitch as favourites.
“We need to be patient and not throw caution to the wind and it doesn’t matter how late we leave it as long as we win.”
Who’s playing on Tuesday?
- Group D: Czech Republic vs England; Kick-off 8pm (London)
- Group D: Croatia vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (Glasgow)
Czech Republic vs England: Southgate has already confirmed that captain Kane will start after recent criticism of his Euro 2020 performances.
Harry Maguire is pushing for his first minutes of the tournament after returning to the substitutes’ bench against Scotland, although Chilwell and Mount are doubts due to their ongoing precautionary isolation.
Patrick Schick has recovered from a head bleed suffered against Croatia, meaning Czech Republic have no new injury worries to contend with ahead of their final group game.
Croatia vs Scotland: Marcelo Brozovic will return to the Croatia starting line-up, Dalic has confirmed, but there is no opportunity for Borna Barisic, who plays his club football in Scotland with Rangers, to make a first appearance despite rejoining team training.
Gilmour will miss out for Scotland after his positive Covid-19 test.
Who needs what to qualify?
While England‘s current haul of four points should see them progress as one of the four best-placed, third-placed teams even if they lose to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, they need at least a draw to be absolutely sure of progressing and only a victory will be enough for them to go through as group winners.
A draw for the Czech Republic would, meanwhile, ensure they progress as group winners and face a potential meeting with one of Portugal, Germany, France or Hungary.
Were England to go through as runners-up, they would face the runners-up from Group E – Spain, Sweden, Poland or Slovakia.
As for Scotland, nothing less than a victory over Croatia will be sufficient for them to have any hope of making it through to the last 16.
If Scotland win and England and the Czechs draw, Scotland should go through as one of the four third-placed teams. They could face either Netherlands, the winner of Group E (Sweden, Slovakia or Spain) in Glasgow on Tuesday June 29 or the winner of Group B (Belgium, Russia or Finland).
The Czech Republic and England were in the same qualifying group for UEFA Euro 2020 – England won 5-0 at Wembley and the Czech Republic prevailed 2-1 in Prague. They are facing each other in a major tournament for the first time.
The Czech Republic have conceded nine goals in their three games at Wembley against England, scoring only two (D1 L2). Their only previous major tournament game at Wembley was the final of Euro 1996 – they lost 2-1 to Germany in extra-time, following Oliver Bierhoff’s golden goal.
England’s 0-0 draw with Scotland on MD2 was their 17th goalless draw at the EUROs/World Cup combined, the most of any nation.
Croatia have never beaten Scotland in their five previous meetings (D3 L2). In fact, France (8 games) and Portugal (7) are the only teams the Croats have faced on more occasions without ever securing a victory.
Scotland have only lost one of their last nine matches at Hampden Park (W5 D3), though it was on MD1 vs the Czech Republic. They last suffered back-to-back defeats there in September 2019 against Russia and Belgium.
Scotland have failed to score in five of their last eight matches at major tournaments (W1 D3 L4), failing to find the net with all 30 shots at goal at EURO 2020 so far.
Also at Euro 2020…
France forward Ousmane Dembele has been ruled out of Euro 2020 with an injury.
Dembele had come on as a second-half substitute in the world champions’ 1-1 Group F draw against Hungary on Saturday and had an immediate impact on their attack, but limped off with an apparent knee injury.
“Ousmane Dembele had an X-ray at the Budapest hospital on Sunday night,” the French Football Federation (FFF) said in a statement, without elaborating on the nature of the injury.
“The recovery time is incompatible with him staying in the squad. After discussing with the player and (team doctor) Franck le Gall, (coach) Didier Deschamps has acknowledged that Ousmane Dembele is ruled out for the rest of the tournament.”
Deschamps still has other attacking options behind starters Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe, with Olivier Giroud, Kingsley Coman and Wissam Ben Yedder in the squad.
France are top of Group F on four points, one ahead of Portugal and Germany and three above Hungary, before taking on Portugal in the last round of group games on Wednesday.
What are the other Home Nations up to?
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After reaching the last 16 on Sunday, Wales will continue their preparations for their first knockout game, playing in Amsterdam on Saturday night. Joe Ledley will join Sky Sports News at 2.30pm to preview their last-16 clash on Saturday in Amsterdam.
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