Prediction and odds for the game: England (8/13) vs Croatia (5/1)
We are backing the draw at odds of 11/4
When: Sunday, 13th June 2021, Kick-off 14:00
Where: Wembley Stadium
On Sunday afternoon, England and Croatia clash at Wembley, as both look to get their European Championship campaigns off to a positive start in Group D of the competition.
The home side head into the European Championships in positive mood and Gareth Southgate’s team are in fact amongst the favourites to win the competition. The fact that all their group games are on home soil could also prove a big advantage to the Three Lions.
England’s best performance in a European Championships came on home soil, as they reached the semi-finals back in 1996 when they suffered an agonising penalty kick defeat against eventual champions Germany. Of course, they also claimed their only major international tournament victory on home soil, winning the World Cup in 1966.
Not only is history favourable to England, but their recent results are also encouraging, as Southgate’s team has won their last six international games. Those wins have been achieved by conceding just one goal too.
England look set to be without Manchester United centre-back Harry Maguire for this clash. That means Conor Coady, Ben White and Tyrone Mings will be competing to play alongside John Stones and probably Kyle Walker in a back three. If it’s a back four Mings and Stones are likely to be paired together.
The visitor’s preparations for this tournament have not been great, but Zlatko Dadic’s team still contains some quality players within their ranks. Real Madrid star Luka Modric is still the player that everything goes through in the centre of the park.
Many of the players remain from the squad that made it to the World Cup final in Russia three years ago. Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic is of course a notable retiree. They of course defeated England 2-1 in extra-time of the semi-finals of World Cup 2018, only to suffer defeat in the final.
Croatia finished top of their group in qualifying, winning five of their eight games in a group that also saw Wales qualify for the finals. It was a reasonably comfortable group for Dadic’s team.
As previously mentioned, the visitors have not been in great form heading into this clash, winning just two of their last nine international matches. Despite the underwhelming recent displays, Croatia still has a lot of tournament know-how and this could be the pivotal game in the group.
England have a habit of underwhelming early in tournaments, while Croatia have a squad that is very capable of causing the Three Lions problems. It’s hard to see Dadic’s team winning this game, but they may have enough to claim a draw.
Both head coaches are likely to be slightly cautious in this opener, so a low-scoring encounter is to be expected. England boss Southgate is known for his pragmatism, despite having a plethora of attacking players in his squad. We are backing under 2.5 goals scored.
Verdict: We are backing the draw at odds of 11/4 and/or under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 4/6. (All odds are taken from Bet365).
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Who will come out on top between England and Croatia in their potentially massive Group D opener?