England v Czech Republic Preview: Euros 2020

June 21st, 2021 | Football

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An interesting game. After a 0-0 draw against Scotland, England find themselves in an intriguing position in Group D. A point is enough to guarantee safety to the Round of 16 and a win would see them finish top.

I’ve been impressed by Czech Republic’s organisation in their 4-2-3-1 system and think they can make it a tough game for England. I know England beat the Czech Republic 5-0 a couple of years ago, but they beat in England 2-1 in the other game. I think it will be tense game and one with few chances, but I think England can scrape a 1-0 win.

There are three players England will need to look out for and stop. West-Ham’s Thomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal will both graft and keep driving forwards throughout the 90 minutes. England’s left-winger will need to track-back and help the left-back when Coufal advances, and one of the midfielders needs to watch the late runs into the box of Thomas Soucek. The Czech Republic also have Patrik Shick as their striker. He’s been in great form at the tournament so far, netting a brace against Scotland, including that incredible long-range strike, and a dispatching a penalty against Croatia. England’s centre-backs will need to concentrate on Shick and not allow him to find space in the box.

System: 4-3-3

England should play a 4-3-3 system in this game. The key being the three in midfield. The midfield three need to be more positive with the ball and need to limit space and follow runs from the Czech Republic players when defending. A simple system and one England have played in their opening two games.

Defence: Shaw, Mings, Maguire, Walker.

Not too much to discuss here. I believe Luke Shaw is the best left-back in the world and was one of the few to impress against Scotland. Kyle Walker is my first-choice right-back when England play a back four and a player who’s experience could be key in this game. I’d bring back Harry Maguire into this one to help deal with Patrik Shick and again offer some vital experience. I’d partner Maguire with Tyrone Mings. I’ve been really impressed with Mings at this tournament so far and think his pace and the fact he’s left-footed would complement Maguire well, the pair played well together before in a 6-0 win against Bulgaria. It’s not that John Stones has played badly, I just don’t think Tyrone Mings can be justifiably dropped.

Midfield: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson.

The midfield wasn’t great against Scotland, but even if it had been I still would’ve gone with this midfield. Declan Rice is one of the first names on the team-sheet for me. His composure and ability to break up play make him England’s best defensive-midfielder by far. I’d have Rice sitting with Bellingham to his left and Henderson to his right in slightly more advanced positions. Bellingham’s desire, quality,energy, forwards passing and tenacity will complement the more patient and experienced Jordan Henderson alongside him. Jordan Henderson’s experience will be vital in this game. Rice doesn’t play like a 22 year-old, but is still a young player. The same can be said for seventeen year-old Jude Bellingham. His quality on the ball and leadership are qualities needed in games like this. This midfield-three can be a threat going forwards and track the Czech Republic’s runs from midfield. I hope Gareth Southgate plays at least two of this midfield.

Attack: Grealish, Kane, Sterling.

I know, this front-three is going to raise a few eyebrows. I’ll start by explaining each of them. Grealish has to start. His quality on the ball, balance, decision making and flair is just so special to witness. I believe he’s England’s best wide-player and fully deserves an opportunity to start after an impressive cameo against Scotland. Harry Kane hasn’t performed to the levels you’d hope so far in this tournament,but he hasn’t really had any decent service from anyone. If Kane gets a chance, he’ll take it. His leadership qualities and experience, like Jordan Henderson, will be important in a game like this. Raheem Sterling is the one I know will raise a few eyebrows, but I have my reasons. The only England players capable of playing on that side are Sterling, Sancho and Foden. I don’t think it’s fair to throw Sancho into a game of this importance, so it was between Sterling and Foden for me. I love watching Phil Foden, but with Jack Grealish’s inclusion, England will need that pacey winger looking to run in behind the opposition, rather than coming short. Sterling hasn’t played well in the previous two games, but he has tournament experience and undeniable quality on the ball. It’s only a matter of time before he finds form again.