A rematch of one of the 2018 World Cup semifinal matches will be one of the highlights of the Group Stage at EURO 2020. Croatia nipped England 2-1 thanks to a 109th minute goal from Mario Mandzukic to advance to the World Cup Final three years ago. The Three Lions have had time to sit and stew about the loss that kept them out of a potential showdown with France, and now they can exact a measure of revenge when Croatia heads to London for the first match of Group D.
Don't miss a second of EURO 2020. This match will be held at Wembley Stadium in London, England at 9 a.m. ET. Catch every moment of the match live on ESPN.
UEFA EURO 2020 Odds at BookMaker.eu
Over/Under 2 and 2.5
Although England lost to Croatia three years ago, the hosts are prohibitive favorites this weekend. The Three Lions are seen as one of the tournament favorites, while Croatia has just four wins in its last 13 international matches.
England has been in fine form since Gareth Southgate took over as manager, and fans are feeling like he can lead the English to their first European Championship. They haven’t dropped a match since a 2-0 road loss to Belgium in Nations League action las November, winning each of their last six games while only surrendering one goal in the process.
However, the Three Lions haven’t played another top team since that defeat. Their most impressive victory was a 2-1 win over Poland where England needed an 85th minute goal from Harry Maguire. They won their tune-ups with Austria and Romania each by 1-0 scores with both goals coming after halftime.
This is one of the most offensively gifted teams at EURO 2020 though. Captain Harry Kane leads the way for England with 34 goals in 54 matches. At the age of 27, Kane is in the prime of his career, and he has plenty of help up top. Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are two of the top young strikers in the game, and Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden could make their presences known too.
Mason Mount’s emergence over the course of the Champions League has answered some questions about the midfield, and Jordan Henderson is a rock. Meanwhile, the starting back line figures to be an all-Manchester unit with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw representing United, while John Stones and Kyle Walker represent City.
Croatia has yet to beat a quality opponent in 2021. The Checkered Ones’ two victories this year came at home against lightweights Cyprus and Malta, and they lost to Slovenia in Ljubljana. They suffered a humiliating home draw to Armenia in one of their tune-ups, and they lost to Belgium in Brussels a few days ago.
Luka Modric is still the team’s undisputed leader although he will be turning 36 years old in September. Modric has played in 138 games for Croatia, and he is still a maestro in the midfield. Nikola Vlasic and Mateo Kovacic are other talented players in the midfield, while Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric are going to be two of the primary players up top.
Matchup to Watch
There’s little doubt that Croatia would be happy with a draw given that England is the presumptive favorite in Group D. To that end, this team must be able to defend. That’s a much bigger question than it was at the 2018 World Cup, as there is no truly elite defender in the back line other than Sime Vrsaljko. Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida are solid veterans, but neither player is in one of the elite domestic leagues.
Free EURO 2020 Betting Pick
England will have much more success creating chances against Croatia than they did three years ago. Kane will find the back of the net at least once as the Three Lions prove they deserve to be considered a true challenger at this year’s Euros.
EURO 2020 Odds: England 3, Croatia 1
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