England showed composure and control not always associated with their performances at previous Euros and made a difficult Croatian side look very average.
Gareth Southgate’s side will be looking to assert themselves in the same way against a Scotland team who need a point if they have any hopes of making the knockout stages in a major tournament for the very first time in their history.
Scotland will relish their underdogs tag and will be hurting from a 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic that means they have it all to do against England and Croatia to navigate their way through Group D.
England are overwhelming favourites at 3/10 with Scotland 9/1. Raheem Sterling could follow his first ever goal at a major international tournament with another against the Scots and is 7/4 to repeat his clinical finish against Croatia. A first goal of the tournament for Harry Kane is valued at 8/11 anytime.
Steve Clarke will certainly make changes but Scotland’s defeat against the Czechs looked worse on paper than how the game panned out. Scotland had a superior xG than their opposition on Monday and if Lyndon Dykes had scored one of his opportunities then the outcome might have been different. Che Adams will surely return to the starting line-up and is 9/2 to score in the 90 minutes. John McGinn got seven goals in qualifying and was comfortably his country’s top scorer. He’s 15/2 if Clarke lets him make forays into the final third.
Friday starts with Sweden versus Slovakia in Group E at the St. Petersburg Stadium. Both sides picked up points in the opening matchday with Sweden getting a very good draw against group favourites Spain. Slovakia were the weakest side of the four in this group but beat Poland 2-1 in one of the more eyebrow raising results of the tournament thus far. An own goal from Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and brilliant finish from centre-back Martin Skriniar gave Slovakia the three points they needed to potentially qualify for the last 16.
This is a fascinating tie given the approach of both teams. Now Sweden have their point against group favourites Spain they can afford to be more expansive. Slovakia will be hoping that a draw is all they need from this game so defeat in their final match could be irrelevant in terms of their chances of getting to the last 16. Four points were enough for Slovakia in Euro 2016 as they lost to Wales but defeated Russia and got the 0-0 they needed against England to be a part of the best third-placed teams.
Fantastic news arrived for Sweden on Wednesday as Dejan Kulusevski was given the all clear from Covid-19 and returned to first team training. The Juventus forward was ruled out of Sweden’s opening game against Spain after testing positive days before the start of Euro 2020. He would have been sure to start Sweden’s opener and would have offered more of a threat than veteran striker Marcus Berg who was culpable for the miss of the tournament in that game.
Kulusevski is 12/5 to score anytime and even though he only has one goal for his country, is only 21 and one of the most exciting young players of his generation having already picked up the Serie A Best Young Player award for the 2019/20 season. His strike partner for this game will surely be Alexander Isak whose dribbling ability and ball retention against Spain really stood out. He’s ahead of Kulusevski in this market at 15/8 to find the net.
Slovakia showed incredible work rate for most of the 90 minutes to prevent Poland and Robert Lewandowski from finding a way to win the game. Ferencvaros winger Robert Mak showed good skill to beat his man and cut in from the left, seeing his shot come back off the post and go in off Szczesny for their first goal. Mak’s 9/2 to score anytime and looks like his country’s biggest threat. Skriniar’s deft first touch and cool finish were exactly what Slovakia needed to clinch the three points although their case was helped by Grzegorz Krychowiak’s red card. Their danger from set pieces was showcased in that instance and Skriniar is 18/1 to find space in the penalty area and score again over the course of the match.
This is followed by Croatia vs Czech Republic at 5pm at Hampden Park. Croatia will be looking to get over their disappointing start to the competition but will be wary about facing a Czech side knowing that just a point almost guarantees passage into the next round. Both countries played each other at this stage in Euro 2016, with the match ending in a 2-2 draw in the second game of that group.
The Czechs will be quietly confident of reaching the knockout stages after missing out in the previous tournament. That 2-0 win against Scotland, featuring one of the all time great Euros goals from Patrik Schick, has set them in good stead for the rest of the first stage. Luka Modric will be aiming to inspire his teammates after being left frustrated by their impotent display against England and Zlatko Dalic could tweak the side to gain momentum.
Croatia are favourites at 23/20 to get their first win of the tournament with the Czech Republic at 5/2. Ex-Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric is favourite to score for the Croatians at 8/5 after having a successful season in front of goal for Hoffenheim netting 25 goals in all competitions. Dalic has options in forward positions but Ivan Perisic will probably keep his place with the Inter Milan winger at 2/1 to strike over the 90 minutes.
Schick is currently 21/10 to score anytime and carry on his incredible start. His goal from near the half-way line on Monday has already ended any goal of the tournament contest but his header in the 42nd minute showed his versatility in the penalty area. He has all the instincts of a great penalty box striker but clearly has the technique and vision to shoot from distance so will be the Czech’s main target again.
Odds and Euros tips via bettingexpert.com.