England begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia on Sunday afternoon. The game could be the early decider for the Group D winner.
The Three Lions come into the tournament in fine form. Gareth Southgate’s men have won each of their last six international fixtures.
The most recent of those was 1-0 win over Romania in their final preparation match last Sunday. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal from the penalty spot.
It wasn’t as tight as the scoreline suggests however. Jordan Henderson, who was captaining the side, missed another penalty in the game.
Croatia’s form of late hasn’t been all that inspiring. Their most recent warm up match was a 1-0 loss to Belgium last week.
Romelu Lukaku scored a first half goal and Croatia couldn’t find the equaliser. That will be a worry for them, as it will have surely knocked their confidence for this game.
They’re top of their 2022 World Cup qualifying group, but only on goal difference. They’ve already suffered a shock defeat to Slovenia in that campaign.
It’s hard to know what to expect from this Croatia side. They have world class talent in the squad, but they don’t always play to their potential.
Below, we’ll preview this Euro 2020 fixture and provide our predictions, the team news, our recommended bets and more…
England vs Croatia Predictions
England’s preparation for Euro 2020 has been pretty smooth. The most recent friendly with Romania saw a few of the young players put in standout performances.
A few days prior to that, a second half Bakary Sako strike saw England beat Austria 1-0. It was a competitive game, and Southgate made plenty of subs to give everyone a chance to impress.
The last few competitive fixtures for England came back in March. The first couldn’t have been easier against minnow San Marino.
Goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin (x2), James Ward-Prowse, Raheem Sterling and Ollie Watkins secured a 5-0 win. Southgate’s men then followed that up with a 2-0 win against Albania.
They closed out their 2022 World Cup qualifying period with a solid 2-1 win over Poland. It looked for a while like the game would end 1-1 before Harry Maguire struck late to win it for England.
Croatia looked to have struggled of late, failing to win games that they were expected to. Their recent 1-1 draw with Armenia wasn’t the most promising performance, and that was an almost full strength XI that started that game.
They did beat Cyprus 1-0 and Malta 3-0 before that, but results previous to that left a lot to be desired.
Those wins came after a three game losing streak. The first was a 2-1 defeat to Sweden, followed by a 3-2 loss to Portugal. The poor run was finished with a 1-0 loss to Slovenia.
Those results show that Croatia don’t always turn up when they need to. However, the same can be said of England, despite the new wave of optimism surrounding this young, new squad.
Read on for our England v Croatia predictions and best bets.
England vs Croatia Head to Head
These two nations have met on nine previous occasions. England lead the head to head record with five wins to Croatia’s two. The other two games ended all square.
The first meeting was back in 2003 in an international friendly. England were comfortable 3-1 winners on that occasion.
They then met a year later at Euro 2004. Goals from Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and a Wayne Rooney brace secured a 4-2 win.
Croatia then won the following two meetings, as the two nations were drawn in the same Euro 2008 qualifying group. England would go on to fail to qualify, with Croatia winning the group.
They then found themselves in the same qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup. England got their revenge, with a 4-1 win followed by a 5-1 victory.
The two sides didn’t meet again until the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. The game ended all square at 1-1, but an extra time Mario Mandzukic strike sent Croatia to the final.
That result left a bit of bad blood between England fans and Croatia and the two countries found themselves in the same UEFA Nations League group.
The first game ended 0-0, but England won the reverse fixture 2-1. These two nations haven’t met since, but England fans would love to send Croatia home at the earliest opportunity here.
England Team News – W W W W W
After the drama of whether or not Trent Alexander-Arnold would be included in the squad, the Liverpool full back is set to miss Euro 2020 with an injury.
Harry Maguire’s fitness is also in question for this opening game. He is training with the squad though and is expected to play his part at some point.
There’s plenty of question marks over what formation Southgate is going to use for this game. It’s expected he’s going to opt for a 3-4-3.
If that’s the case, expect Harry Kane to be flanked by Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling up front.
Declan Rice is most likely to feature in central midfield. Our England v Croatia predictions expect Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden to start behind the attacking trio.
Everton stopper Jordan Pickford is expected to start between the sticks. Southgate has rotated his keepers in the last several matches, but it’s believed Pickford is considered number one.
Croatia Team News – L D W W L
Croatia could go for their preferred 4-3-3 formation for this opening clash.
Ivan Perisic is almost certain to feature in the attacking line. The Inter Milan forward scored in Croatia’s recent draw with Armenia.
The big question remains who will partner him upfront. Andrej Kramaric is the most likely candidate, he finished the Bundesliga season in fine scoring form for club Hoffenheim.
AC Milan forward Ante Rebic could complete the attacking trio, if Croatia opt for the formation that’s expected.
Marcelo Brozovic is expected to be the holding midfielder. He’ll have Luca Modric and Mateo Kovacic in front of him at the centre of the park.
Dinamo Zagreb stopper Dominik Livakovic will start between the sticks. He’s played the full 90 minutes in each of Croatia’s last five matches.
England vs Croatia Betting Tips
With the recent form of these two nations, it’s no surprise to see England as favourites to win. Southgate’s side can be backed at 4/6 in our England v Croatia match bets.
The Croatians haven’t fared well in these encounters in the past and that’s reflected in their odds. The traders have Croatia as 4/1 outsiders to win.
These opening tournament matches can be tight and sometimes end in stalemates. You can back the draw at 13/5 if you think this will be a cagey affair.
If England are going to make history here, they will probably need to win this opening game. Southgate’s men can use this as a statement of intent.