After a string of strong performances off the back of their memorable World Cup; England kick off their Euro qualifiers with arguably their toughest opponents, can they keep the good times coming?
Injuries means opportunities
From the side that took the nation on such a wonderful journey in the summer, there could be as many as five new faces in the starting 11 for the hosts. This is a huge credit to Gareth Southgate and an indicator of a superb crop of young players that are ready to make their mark on the international stage.
Ross Barkley, Ben Chilwell, Micheal Keane, Declan Rice and Jadon Sancho all look likely to start and all will be keen to impress. A lot of eyes will be fixated on the latter two. Declan Rice changed allegiances to be able to play for England, and Manuel Pellegrini has referred to him as England’s best holding midfielder; a bold claim but one that is hard to argue with after a some superb performances for West Ham this season. The move from centre back to midfield looks to have been an absolute masterstroke in Rice’s development and many are of the view that he could become the coal of England’s engine room for years to come.
Sancho brings a whole different level of excitement to the
table. No player in Europe’s top five leagues has more assists than the
dazzling young winger and he’s one of the finest emerging England talents we
have seen in years. His pace, ability on the ball and eye for a pass has made
him one of the starts of the Bundesliga this campaign and England fans will be
dying to see glimpses of his ability in an England shirt.
Sancho brings more than just hype, his stats this season speak for themselves; nine goals and 13 assists in all competitions make him a real goal threat. He’s 3.4 to get his first England goal at anytime in the match, with Rashford struggling with a knock a start looks very likely as part of the front three.
The Czechs will make themselves hard to beat
It looks on paper as if the visitors would be likely to adopt a 4-3-3 system, not too dissimilar in shape to England’s. However in a tough away trip like this we’re more likely to see a variation closer to 4-5-1. Tomas Soucek will anchor the midfield in an attempt to stop the likes of Barkley and Alli drifting in to space between the lines. The playmaking will largely be left up to Borek Dockal. Patrik Schick will lead the line and will need to be marshalled carefully, the 23 year old is a terrific finisher; their issue will be getting him the opportunity to show his quality. He’d be the smartest money if you wanted to back a Czech scorer, Schick is out at 9.0 anytime.
There are a couple of familiar faces in the ranks for The Czech’s, Matej Vydra will play from the right hand side. He’ll have a job to do defensively as well as going forward as you can expect to see some marauding runs from Ben Chilwell to support Raheem Sterling in attack. The Czech defence feature former Chelsea man Tomas Kalas, the centre half has had an excellent season for Bristol City and is reportedly being monitored by some Premier League clubs should City fail to go up. Pavel Kaderabek, Theodore Gebre Selassie and Jiri Pavlenka all play in the Bundesliga, the latter is a towering shot stopper for Werder Bremen and will need to be at the top of his game as the visitors last line of defence.
England have too much
There’s a real excitement about England right now, even with some injuries the squad looks very strong. A lot of the positivity comes from the plethora of talent in attacking areas, we’ve already spoke of several but with Callum Hudson-Odoi and James Ward-Prowse also stepping in it only serves to strengthen the danger England pose, especially at Wembley. Over 2.5 goals is priced at 1.95 and could be a great selection, add an England win in to that and you’re looking at odds of 2.2.
This Czech republic side have a few good players, but realistically none would make England’s starting line-up. Gone are the days of Pavel Nedved, Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and Karel Poborsky. This is far from the golden generation of Czech football and I expect England to be dominant.
Harry Kane to score first @ 3.1
Jadon Sancho to score anytime @ 3.4
England to win and over 2.5 goals @ 2.2