Fifteen months ago, Gareth Southgate and his charges made an Eastern sojourn in a bid to cause only a flutter or two among the World Cup ranks. Yet, by the time the competition culminated, the Three Lions had roared enough to secure 4th spot at the multi-nation tournament, ahead of the likes of Brazil, Germany and Spain.
Thus, on their return, there was palpable excitement within the English footballing community. After all, England, despite the talent at their disposal, haven’t always stamped their authority at a continental or global event.
Furthermore, they also gave an extremely good account of themselves in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, where they qualified for the knock-out stages, emerging from a group also comprising Spain and the 2016 World Cup runners up, Croatia.
Consequently, all eyes shifted towards the next mega competition, namely the Euro 2020. To put things into perspective, if the Three Lions had to signify their ascent since that defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016, they surely had to strengthen their credentials, over the course of the qualifying campaign. And, so far, they’ve done rather well on that front.
In four matches, England have scored 19 goals and conceded only four, three of which came in their last encounter against Kosovo at Southampton. Additionally, they managed to stick five past Czech Republic, their opponents on Friday.
The hosts, meanwhile, have endured a patchy start to their Euro 2020 qualification phase. Though they’ve notched up three victories in five games, they’ve lost to the Three Lions and more surprisingly, Kosovo.
Thus, the affair on Friday represents the Czechs last chance to realistically rein in England at the perch of the table. A loss for the home side would plunge them deeper into the mid-table scrap, with the visitors then enjoying a 6-point cushion at the top.
Subsequently, the game has assumed monumental proportions, courtesy the implications it might have on the table. And, very seldom do such encounters fail to ignite, especially considering the stakes attached to it.
Date: 11th October, 2019
Time: 08:45 pm (Local Time); 12:15 am IST on the 12th of October, 2019
Venue: Sinobo Stadium, Prague
Head to Head Record
Total Matches Played: 3 matches
England: 2 wins
Czech Republic: 0 wins
Draw: 1 draw
Form Guide (Last five matches; Most recent first)
Czech Republic: W-L-W-W-L
Player to watch out for
James Maddison has been in scintillating form since the start of the season and has distinguished himself as arguably the brightest English attacking talent in the Premier League.
The Leicester City midfielder has shone as the creative spark and has bagged a couple of assists, in addition to scoring twice.
Moreover, the Englishman seems to have added a defensive edge to his game under Brendan Rodgers, meaning that he could function as the third central midfielder alongside Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson.
Most importantly though, the youngster finds himself in the middle of a purple patch and it would be a travesty if he’s not given the opportunity to showcase his talents on the international stage on Friday.
England win: 1.40
Czech Republic win: 6.50
Published 10 Oct 2019, 13:42 IST