England – They have the squad and home advantage to go all the way
The last time England played in a major international tournament on home soil was Euro ’96. They were knocked out by Germany on penalties when now manager, Gareth Southgate, missed the decisive spot kick in sudden-death. England will be hoping to go at least one better this time around and reach the final, and their route to Euro 2020 glory could easily see six of their seven games being played at Wembley.
How They Qualified: England had a quite straight forward qualifying group and won seven of their eight matches. They scored 37 goals and conceded just six.
The Manager: Gareth Southgate became a national hero in 2018 when guiding England to the World Cup semi-finals. He’ll be under pressure to deliver a strong performance in Euro 2020 with England’s wealth of attacking talent and the advantage of playing most of their games at Wembley.
The Squad: Southgate has chopped and changed over the past two years between 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 formations. He played 3-5-2 at the World Cup in Russia and this will likely be the formation at Euro 2020, due to Southgate’s seeming lack of faith in his centre-backs. Against stronger opposition, England will likely play two holding midfielders. In attack, there’s a wealth of talent and England will break quickly using any combination of Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho behind Harry Kane.
Key Man: With 34 goals in 53 international appearances, Harry Kane is England’s star. The 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner is likely to be the centre of intense transfer speculation this summer, but if he can put that to the back of his mind, he could prove crucial to England’s chances of lifting the European Championship.
One To Watch: Mason Mount gave a series of man of the match performances for Chelsea that included crucial Champions League goals against Porto and Real Madrid. He’s not guaranteed to start every game, but he’s one to keep an eye on when he’s playing as the impeccable timing of his passes and runs in the final third are sure to catch defences out, and he could have a huge say in the knockout stages.
Tournament Prospects: England play all three of their group games – against Croatia, Czech Republic and Scotland – at Wembley and will expect to take maximum points. However, winning Group D would pit England against the runners-up of Group F which contains Germany, France and Portugal. Facing any of those three-sides would be the tie of the round of 16 and, even with home advantage there, you would not be surprised if England were caught cold and knocked out. If they beat one of that trio, on the other hand, the country will be in football fever mode and, with a potential semi-final and final at Wembley, you would not back against them going all the way.
How To Back England: No player is more accustomed to playing at Wembley than Harry Kane from his time there with Tottenham and England. He will lead the line for England in every game and will be taking penalties. If England are to win this tournament, Kane will be among the top of the charts, so it makes sense to double up on them in the outright betting and Kane to be top goalscorer.
Croatia – Experience key once again
Croatia have struggled to reach the same heights as they did when finishing as runners up at the World Cup three years ago. But they are an established international force, have been for some time now, and no one should be surprised to see them reach the semi-finals here.
How They Qualified: They struggled in their away games, losing to Hungary and drawing with Azerbaijan and Wales. But they won all their other games and finished first in their group.
The Manager: Zlatko Dalic took over in October 2017 and had to improve performances to qualify for the World Cup where they reached the final. They’ve been poor in the Nations League since then, but qualified for the Euros at the top of their group.
The Squad: Much of the World Cup squad will be back again, but a new crop of talent means that nobody’s position is secure. Croatia have a wealth of talent in midfield with Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic competing for the defensive midfield position, and Luka Modric, Toma Basic and Mario Pasalic competing for the creative role. Andrej Kramaric has not featured consistently due to injury, but they lack any other strong candidate for the striker role, so he’s expected to start if he is fit.
Key Man: Ballon D’Or winner Modric is still starting for Real Madrid and pulling all the strings. Even at 35, he’s a key player for club and country and will be determined to make a major impact at Euro 2020.
One To Watch: Nikola Vlasic has been around a while but he’s only just now starting to live up to his potential. The number 10 has found his feet at CSKA Moscow and this season scored and assisted more goals than any of his teammates for the second year running.
Tournament Prospects: If they come second in Group D behind England, then Croatia will face the second place finisher in Group E (Spain, Sweden, Poland, Solvakia) which would be a very winnable tie for them. However their likely opponents after that will be the winners of Group F (France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary), and that may prove a step too far.
How to Back Them: Back Krameric in the goalscorer markets. He’s a penalty specialist at Hoffenheim, and, while it’s yet to be seen if he’ll take penalties for Croatia, if he does, he’ll be value in all the goalscorer markets.
Czech Republic – Could qualify third
Winners as Czechoslovakia in 1976, thanks to Antonin Panenka’s inventive winning penalty, they also finished as runners-up as the Czech Republic in 1996. But expectations will be much lower this time, and progression out of the group stages would be seen as a success.
How They Qualified: The finish second behind England in qualifying and were the only team to beat Gareth Southgate’s men.
The Manager: Jaroslav Šilhavý is a big name in the Czech Republic with the record number of appearances at club level in the country’s top division. He used to be the national team’s assistant manager before enjoying moderate success managing in the Czech league. In 2018, he became national team manager.
The Squad: Šilhavý prefers a 4-2-3-1 as it gets the most out of Thomas Soucek and Alex Kral in midfield, with Kral taking a more defensive role which allows Soucek to be a box-to box midfielder and contribute in attack. Captain Vladimir Darida will play as number 10, while Sampdoria’s Jakub Jankto will play on the wing. Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrick Schick will lead the line and will also be taking penalties.
Key Man: Patrik Schick is their most important player, he’s many levels better than his understudies, and will be his team’s main goal threat this summer.
One To Watch: Alex Kral of Spartak Moscow will play the same role as Declan Rice does for West Ham which allows Soucek the positional freedom he needs to be a goal threat. Constantly linked with a move to the Premier League, David Moyes will be keeping a close eye on Kral as a possible replacement for Declan Rice, and potential link up with Soucek.
Tournament Prospects: A talented team that has to play two group games away, to England and Scotland, whilst playing the other one against the World Cup finalists Croatia. Top 2 in the group will be a tough ask, and if they do qualify in third place they’ll be underdogs against whoever they play in the last 16.
How to Back Them: The Czechs face England in their last group game, and they’ll be hoping that England have qualified for the last 16 by then so that Southgate can rest key players like he did in England’s last group game at the World Cup. If the Czechs can get a win there, or anywhere, then there’s a good chance they can qualify as one of the third best teams. Back them to qualify at 5/6.
The Tartan army are back at an international tournament for the first time since 1998. Scotland will be underdogs to get out of Group D. Crucially, though, Scotland will play Croatia and Czech Republic at Hampden Park. One win could be enough to see them progress as one of the six third place finishers.
How They Qualified: Scotland qualified with dramatic play-off wins over Israel and Serbia. Goalkeeper David Marshall was the penalty shootout hero, saving Aleksander Mitrovics kick after Scotland had scored all five of their penalties.
The Manager: Steve Clarke’s coaching career began at Chelsea in 2004 where he was assistant manager for four years. At the end of the 2019 season Clarke left Kilmarnock, where achieved success, to replace Alex McLeish as the head coach of Scotland and guided them to Euro 2020.
The Squad: Clarke will likely adopt a 3-5-2 formation to ensure both of his star players, Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson are in the starting XI. Tierney will likely start at the left side of a back three, with Robertson operating in the left-wing back role. Scott McTominay who has been switched between centre-half and centre midfield but will likely start in midfield, behind John McGinn and Callum McGregor. Lyndon Dykes was Clarke’s preferred centre forward in qualification, with Oli McBurnie also getting some game time. Both work hard but they don’t chip in with a huge number of goals so the introduction of Southampton striker Che Adams could be the catalyst for goals.
Key Man: McTominay stands out as Scotland’s key man for this summer. After becoming a main stay in the Manchester United midfield, he’s had his best season, and there isn’t anybody else in the Scotland squad of his quality who can break up the ball in the middle of the park, and control the game as well. Despite only being 24, and having 22 international caps, McTominay will be one of the leaders of this squad.
One To Watch: McGinn is in the form of his life, especially with the national team, scoring three goals already in three 2022 World Cup qualifying games. He has been a big part of Aston Villa’s impressive campaign and will be one of the first names on Clarke’s team-sheet.
Tournament Prospects: Their first game against the Czech Republic is probably the must-win. Scotland have the quality to cause the Czech’s problems. Win that, and even narrow defeats to England and Croatia could see Scotland qualify. They could easily get a draw in their third game, as Croatia would happily take a draw to take sew up their second place finish.
How to Back Them: John McGinn is the best attacking midfielder in the squad and takes free-kicks and penalties. He is likely to play every minute, and with a lack of goals among Scotland’s forwards, despite the introduction of Adams, McGinn’s price to their top scorer looks worth taking on.
How To Bet On Scotland: John McGinn has 10 goals for Scotland in Euro 2020 qualifying and and Qatar World Cup qualifying games. He is the number one attacking midfielder in the squad and will taking free-kicks and penalties. He is likely to play every minute. There’s a lack of goals among Scotland’s forwards despite the introduction of Che Adams. Two goals could be enough for McGinn to be Scotland’s top goalscorer.