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Euro Daily: June 22, 2021
The penultimate round of European Championship group stage fixtures will see just a pair of games played out, as the likes of Scotland and Croatia eye up crucial 3-point hauls.
Below, check out five things you need to know about Tuesday’s action.
1) England vs Czech Republic repercussions
As things stand, it remains all to play for in Group D.
When it comes to England’s meeting with the Czech Republic, if the latter manage to avoid defeat, they will be guaranteed table-topping status. If England notch a 2nd win in three outings, on the other hand, it is the Three Lions who will advance as group leaders. Gareth Southgate and co. will no doubt draw inspiration from their last meeting with the Czechs at Wembley, when a Euro 2020 qualifier saw Raheem Sterling run riot, en route to an eventual 5-0 victory.
Could England, in fact, set out for a draw, though? A 2nd-place group finish could actually prove beneficial when it comes to the nation’s hopes of a deep tournament run. This comes with the runners-up from the ‘Group of Death’ – likely to be one of France, Germany or Portugal – awaiting Group D’s table-toppers in the Last-16. The side to qualify in 2nd, on the other hand, will face their counterparts from Group E.
When it comes to Scotland’s hopes of qualification, Monday night’s round of results proved hugely beneficial. Denmark’s dominant victory over Russia, coupled with a Belgium downing of Finland, mean that Steve Clarke’s men will be guaranteed of their spot in the next round of the Euros, if they can get the better of Croatia. The Croats, though, will also be gunning for all three points, a result which would guide them into the Last-16, at Scotland’s expense.
2) Sancho incoming?
Elsewhere on the England front, the nation’s fans could well be set to have their Jadon Sancho-shaped prayers answered later this evening.
Much chatter has of course surrounded the playing time, or lack thereof, afforded to the gifted wide-man thus far this summer, with Gareth Southgate somewhat bizarrely having opted against making use of Sancho’s talents for a single minute. This comes despite the Three Lions having looked in desperate need of a spark against a stout Scottish backline en route to an eventual 0-0 stalemate last time out.
When drawn on the possibility of Sancho being handed his Euros bow versus the Czech Republic, though, the England boss had the following to say:
‘We’ve got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players and experiencing a big tournament for the first time. So as a coaching staff we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals.’
‘Jadon is in that mix. He’s trained well the last few days and of course we have got those options and those decisions to make.’
3) Covid chaos
It would of course be remiss not to highlight the story which has dominated the headlines over the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday’s final round of Group D fixtures.
This comes in the form of the hugely disappointing news that Billy Gilmour has tested positive for Covid-19. The Chelsea talent was widely praised for his standout display versus England last Friday, but has since been ruled out of Scotland’s crucial showdown with Croatia:
We can confirm that Billy Gilmour has tested positive for COVID-19.
Having liaised with Public Health England, Billy will now self-isolate for 10 days and therefore miss tomorrow’s UEFA EURO 2020 Group D match against Croatia at Hampden.https://t.co/lRNWvckqCK
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 21, 2021
And the issues stemming from Gilmour’s positive result have since only mounted.
After coming into close contact with their Chelsea teammate in the aftermath of last week’s Wembley clash, England pair Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell have too been forced into self isolation. It currently remains unclear how long the Blues stars will be out of action, but their participation versus the Czech Republic this evening looks altogether unlikely.
4) Soucek vs Pickford
Sticking with the individuals front, one player who is expected to play a key role in the clash between the English and Czechs is Tomas Soucek.
The West Ham midfielder has continued to impress at the tournament to date, after lighting up the English football landscape on his way to 10 Premier League goals this past season.
One such strike, meanwhile, proved particularly significant, in that it came versus the same man whom Soucek will be hoping to get the better of once again at Wembley this evening. A league meeting at Goodison Park following the turn of the year saw Everton and West Ham deadlocked with just minutes to play.
This, however, all changed when that man Soucek popped up at the back post, to slot beyond Jordan Pickford, and secure a vital three points for the Hammers en route to an eventual 6th-placed Premier League finish:
⚽️⚒️ Tomas Soucek becomes West Ham United’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with five goals.
🙌 It gave the Hammers a 1-0 victory at Everton…pic.twitter.com/FrNB8mOoUr
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) January 1, 2021
Will the Czech Republic’s midfield star have the last laugh once again on Tuesday?
5) Reds watch out for Gvardiol
The last of our five ‘things to look out for’ in Group D centers on Croatia talent Joško Gvardiol.
The 19-year-old is an up-and-coming left-back, who, despite altogether limited experience, was afforded starts in both of his country’s Euro 2020 outings to date.
Our intrigue when it comes to Gvardiol, though, surrounds the stopper’s Premier League ambitions. Speaking earlier this year, the Croatia talent was drawn on his status as a supporter, and went on to reveal his love for Liverpool:
What makes such quotes worth highlighting ahead of tonight’s fixtures? In taking on Scotland, Gvardiol will likely be lining out against the current first-choice left-back at Anfield – Andy Robertson. The youngster will therefore have his work cut out, if he intends to catch the eye up against one of world football’s finest left-sided defenders.
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