England start their Euro 2020 journey with their Group D opener against Croatia today, a rematch of the last meaningful game Gareth Southgate’s side played at a major finals – when they suffered defeat in the World Cup semi-final three years ago.
This time around the expectancy is on the Three Lions to be a more creative, expansive attacking outfit, given the likes of Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish have joined the squad. Southgate must pick and choose which are his most in-form options to get the victory which is required, as England look to make a positive start at the Championships.
With Scotland and Czech Republic still to come, it won’t be an easy passage through to the knock-out rounds for either of these sides if they slip up in the first game and leave themselves work to do.
Croatia come into Euro 2020 having picked up just two victories from their last nine games as Zlatko Dalic struggles to find the right balance in the team, but with the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric at the heart of the team, they will provide stern opposition all the same.
A win for either team will set them up as favourites to top the group – though whether that actually turns out to be desirable will become apparent only in a couple of weeks, as it could pit Group D’s finest against the likes of Portugal, France or Germany.
Kieran Trippier was the headline selection choice from Southgate with the Atletico Madrid defender lining up at left-back. Captain Harry Kane starts up front with Raheem Sterling chosen ahead of Grealish, Rashford and Sancho.
Gareth Southgate is going with a 4-2-3-1 system. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the absence of Manchester United defender Harry Maguire, who hasn’t even made the bench.
Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell also miss out on the squad, with Southgate opting to name both back-up goalkeepers on the bench.
No start for Jack Grealish either, after speculation that the Aston Villa forward could play from the beginning.
Harry Kane will lead the line as expected, with the striker among the favourites to land the golden shoe at the tournament.
There are six survivors from the Croatia side that started against England in the 2018 semi final, with Vida, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Perisic, Modric and Rebic all in the starting XI today.
Kovacic and Kramaric, who came off the bench three years ago, are also in the starting XI today.
England XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Mings, Trippier; Phillips, Rice; Sterling, Mount, Foden; Kane.
Croatia XI: Livakovic; Gvardiol, Caleta-Car, Vida, Vrsaljko; Brozovic; Perisic, Kovacic, Modric, Kramaric; RebicFollow us