This is the closest since 1996 that England have come into a ‘home tournament.’
Wembley will stage all of the Three Lions group games, both Semi Finals and Final. If they were to win Group D, England would also play at their national stadium in the first knockout stage.
Apart from their trip to the capital, Scotland have home advantage in their other 2 group fixtures.
While Gareth Southgate is a decent chap does he have that tactical ability to get us over the line?
We saw in the two recent European Finals what happens if a manager over thinks his tactics. In a Quarter or Semi Final, will the managed be brave enough to have a Foden, Mount and Grealish in the same team or will he play a Henderson, Rice and Phillips?
My fear is it’s the second one?
There is already talk that if Maguire can’t start the tournament, Southgate will compensate with a back 5, meaning we sacrifice an offensive player.
I don’t think enough has been made of what happens if England win their group. While that keeps them at home, they would have to face France, Germany or Portugal.
Bizarrely on paper they will get a softer tie if they finish 2nd (Spain. Sweden, Poland or Slovakia.)
Croatia wivide the public’s opinion.
Some will argue they are the World Cup Finalists, but my own opinion is this is an ageing squad.
While still better than the other three in the group in terms of technically keeping the ball, all their star talent is past their peak.
Luka Modric is 35, Perisic is 32 while the likes of Rakitic and Mandzukic have retired from international Football since the World Cup.
The second smallest nation (population) to reach a WC Final, perhaps naturally there has been a decline in form after such a high.
Form in 2020 saw only two out of a possible 8 victories.
Playing in front of thousands at Wembley and Hampden might give their opposition energy that Croatia lack.
Despite this being their first tournament since 1998, everything is set up for this to be the first time in their history they get past the first round of any competition.
With third possibly enough and home advantage over Croatia and the Czech Republic, will they have a better chance?
Andy Robertson plays for Liverpool, Tierney at Arsenal, McGinn is at Villa, McTominay at Man United, etc., so they have players used to playing at the highest level under pressure.
What they lack in firepower, I really think Hampden Park can be the difference. It’s one of those atmospheres that could intimidate the opposition and be Scotland’s 12th man.
Without that I probably wouldn’t say they would advance.
Feel sorry for the Czech’s.
In Coufal, Soucek and Schick, they have an improving squad, but the draw has been cruel, two of their opponents have home backing.
The forward players they have have given the Czech’s hope but defensively they can fall apart quickly.
If they can avoid an early goal and stay in games, they then have players who can snatch a win.
Not quite the golden generation that got to the Final the last time it was held at Wembley, but they might be more competitive than some assume though.