Euro Daily: June 18, 2021
Day 7 of the European Championships will see another trio of fixtures played out, as the likes of England and the Czech Republic aim to build on respective opening day victories.
Below, check out five things you need to know about Friday’s action.
1) Wembley showdown
Today’s marquee Euro 2020 fixture will of course see old foes England and Scotland lock horns in London.
The Group D clash represents a pivotal one for both sides, with the Three Lions aiming to book their spot in the last-16, on the back of an opening day win over Croatia. Steve Clarke’s Scotland, on the other hand, will be aware that a 2nd consecutive defeat to open their campaign could well culminate in an early Euros exit.
Group ramifications aside, though, there are a host of other noteworthy talking points when it comes to Friday night’s Wembley clash. For example, did you know that England and Scotland played out the first ever official international fixture? The meeting played out in Glasgow all the way back in 1872, and ended in a goalless draw. Of the 32 previous matchups between the nations at Wembley, meanwhile, the Three Lions have emerged victorious on 18 occasions, twice as many as their upcoming opponents.
The capital clash will also feature face offs between a number of stars used to lining out alongside one another at club level, including Bukayo Saka vs Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson vs Jordan Henderson, Scott McTominay vs Marcus Rashford, and John McGinn vs Jack Grealish.
2) Gazza memories
Sticking with Friday’s most high-profile fixture, it would of course be remiss not to mention that Gazza goal.
The only previous European Championship meeting between England and Scotland came back at Euro 96.
On that day, it was the former who emerged victorious, courtesy of a 2-0 win. Alan Shearer gave the Three Lions the lead early in the 2nd-half, before Paul Gascoigne rounded out the scoring with one of England’s most famous ever goals. Moments after David Seaman kept out a Gary McAllister spot-kick, Gazza was slipped in on the edge of the box, flicking the ball over the head of the incoming defender with his left foot, before lashing home on the volley with his right:
25 years ago today, Paul Gascoigne scored THAT goal against Scotland 🚀
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) June 15, 2021
3) All eyes on Schick
Moving to the meeting between the Czech Republic and Croatia, all eyes will of course be fixated on Patrik Schick.
The Bayer Leverkusen man enjoyed a remarkable 90 minutes in the Czechs’ opening fixture of the tournament, proving the ultimate difference maker in a hard-fought clash with the aforementioned Scotland.
Schick opened the afternoon’s scoring courtesy of a fine header, before dropping jaws across the planet with a moment of absolute genius en route to his brace. After picking up the ball just inside his own half, the 25-year-old spotted David Marshall off his line. From here, Schick went on to produce the most sumptuous of strikes imaginable, lobbing Scotland’s no.1 from all of 50+ yards.
WHAT. A. GOAL.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 14, 2021
Schick’s opening day double leaves him sitting joint-top of the Euros goalscoring charts, alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo. Not a bad pair to be associated with…
Can the Czech Republic’s main man repeat his heroics to condemn Croatia to a 2nd-straight defeat, and book his country’s spot in the knockout rounds in the process?
4) Isak vs Skriniar (Sweden vs Slovakia)
Another two of the most impressive performers from the opening round of European Championships action are set to do battle on Friday afternoon. The players in question? Alexander Isak and Milan Skriniar.
Gifted hitman Isak proved the shining light in an otherwise workmanlike Sweden display versus Spain on Monday. The Real Sociedad man struck the post, teed up what should have been a Swedish opener in the 2nd-half, and caused the Spanish defensive pairing of Pau Torres & Aymeric Laporte all sorts of problems throughout the 90 minutes.
In turn, it came as little surprise when fans of each and every one of English football’s biggest clubs quickly flocked to social media, to call for their respective sides to target Isak this summer. Fresh off the back of a 17-goal haul in La Liga, and at just 21 years of age, who could blame them?
Isak’s credentials, however, will be put to the test in a major way at the Krestovsky Stadium, up against Milan Skriniar. The Inter Milan man was absolutely pivotal in Slovakia’s shock opening day win over Poland, finding the net, patrolling his side’s backline and, most impressively of all, keeping Robert Lewandowski very much in check.
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 14, 2021
Skriniar has been labelled a ‘system player’ by some who have not watched the stopper play on a consistent basis, after shining as part of Antonio Conte’s famed back-3 in Italy this season. On Friday, the 26-year-old will be out to prove that he is anything but, at the expense of the aforementioned Isak.
5) Can Clarke turn it around?
Last but not least when it comes to today’s Euros talking points is the situation of Scotland manager Steve Clarke.
The Tartan Army’s opening day defeat to the Czech Republic saw the finger of blame widely directed at the man on the bench, with the nation’s fans having made their feelings with both Clarke’s tactics and team selection crystal clear. The 57-year-old was accused of being overly negative in his approach to a very winnable fixture, with the absence of the likes of Billy Gilmour and Che Adams from Scotland’s starting XI having ultimately proved costly.
Clarke hinted at potential changes to his line-up ahead of leading his side out at Wembley on Friday, and will likely need to follow through to avoid another swift backlash on the part of his fellow countrymen.
Whilst defeat to the Czech Republic may soon be forgotten, a similar scoreline versus old foes England will live much, much longer in the memory.