England will have the chance to book their place at the UEFA Euro 2020 when they take on Czech Republic at the Sinobo Stadium on Friday.
Matchday 7 of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers is underway, with teams continuing their pursuit to reach next summer’s finals. The top two in Group A will be in action in Prague, as Czech Republic play hosts to table toppers England, who are on the verge of sealing their berth in the tournament, at Sinobo Stadium on Friday.
Czech Republic had started off their UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers campaign on a whimper, with England handing them a 5-0 drubbing on Matchday 1. But, three wins from their subsequent four games have helped Jaroslav Silhavy & co. climb up to second in the Group A standings, although the 2-1 loss to Kosovo does complicate matters.
England, on the other hand, have continued their stunning qualifying form in recent years by winning each of their first four games so far. With 19 goals scored in these fixtures, the Three Lions are on a roll, with qualification to next summer’s European Championships pretty much secured.
Czech Republic were victorious the last time they hosted England in a competitive setting, back when they were the erstwhile Czechoslovakia, coming from behind to complete a 2-1 win. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jaroslav Sihalvy had already made plenty of changes to the squad he had picked last month, with Tomas Koubek, Marek Suchy and Tomas Kalas being notable absentees. The Czech Republic head coach, though, has been left without three further players, with Filip Novak, David Hovorka and David Pavelka pulling out of the squad due to their respective injuries.
Sihalvy should line his side up in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with Tomas Vaclik taking his place in goal for the hosts. Suchy is a major miss for Czech Republic, with the 31-year-old being an ever-present at the back for the hosts this year.
In Suchy’s absence, Jakub Brabec is expected to start at the heart of the Czech defence alongside Ondrej Celustka. Pavel Kaderabek ought to start on the right side of the defence, with Jan Boril expected to line up as the left-back.
In midfield, the emergence of Alex Kral has been key for Czech Republic, and the 21-year-old will be the holding midfielder for the hosts. Tomas Soucek will be Kral’s partner, with the Slavia Praha midfielder providing the tireless energy from the middle of the park.
With Kral holding the fort in the middle of the park, Czech Republic captain Vladimir Darida has been given the opportunity to reprise the no. 10 role. Lukas Masopust and Jakub Jankto will provide the creative thrust from the flanks, with Patrik Schick leading the line against England.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vaclik; Kaderabek, Brabec, Celustka, Boril; Kral, Soucek; Masopust, Darida, Jankto; Schick
The injured Manchester United duo of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jesse Lingard have missed out of the latest squad named by Gareth Southgate, who has also excluded Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. In addition, senior figure Kyle Walker still remains exiled from England duty.
Southgate will also be without Tom Heaton (shoulder), Fabian Delph (hamstring) and James Maddison (illness), who have withdrawn from the squad due to their respective issues. Heaton, who has been replaced by Dean Henderson, was unlikely to start anyway, with Jordan Pickford expected to take his place in goal for England.
Like Henderson, Tyrone Mings and Fikayo Tomori are in line to make their England debut. Mings should get his opportunity to be Harry Maguire’s central defensive partner, with Tomori likely to be given his international bow against Bulgaria, if at all. Ben Chilwell and the resurgent Kieran Trippier should be the two full-backs for the visitors.
Up ahead in midfield, Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice are certain starters. The third slot in the middle of the park is likely to be given to Mason Mount, who should usurp Chelsea teammate Ross Barkley at international level as well and make his first start for England against Czech Republic.
The three-pronged attack is unlikely to be tinkered with, despite the solid form of Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson. Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho should, thus, keep hold of their places in the final third, with the game giving Sterling a chance to return to form after a few indifferent weeks with Manchester City.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pickford; Trippier, Maguire, Mings, Chilwell; Henderson, Rice, Mount; Sancho, Kane, Sterling
- England are unbeaten in three games with Czech Republic since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia (W2 D1).
- England have not been on the wrong side of the result in 43 qualifying fixtures – both Euro and World Cup – (W34 D9).
- Czech Republic have won each of their last three competitive fixtures at homes, conceding just one goal in the process.
- England have not lost a competitive game within 90 minutes since a 2-1 home loss to Spain in September 2018, winning six of their nine fixtures in normal time since then.
- Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last eight England appearances.
Player to Watch
It has been a fantastic start to the season for Mason Mount, who has taken to life as a senior Chelsea player without much of a trouble. The midfielder’s meteoric rise is now set to continue, as he is set to be handed his first start for the England national team.
With midfield an area that is brimming with options for Gareth Southgate, Mount will have to make a quick impression in order to cement his place in the side. The game against a stubborn Czech Republic side, which does not let in many goals at home, will, therefore, be a fantastic way for the young midfielder to impress.
If he manages to do so, Mount will have gone a long way in at least making a case for himself to be in the squad for next year’s European Championships, with England nearly confirmed as a qualifier.
Czech Republic 0-3 England
England are flying high at the moment, with Gareth Southgate overseeing a fantastic transition into fast flowing, fluid football. Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane might not be firing on all cylinders at club level, but the duo should be tough to contain for Czech Republic.
With someone like Mason Mount also keen to make an impression, this could be another comfortable evening for the Three Lions. And so, The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward result for the visitors, with Gareth Southgate & co. bagging a 3-0 win to seal their berth at the UEFA Euro 2020.