Drama is likely to ensue on Tuesday when Group D’s final round of group matches are played as England look to respond in style.
England vs Czech Republic
Gareth Southgate’s men have gone from hero to zero … a win, albeit by the slimmest of margins against Croatia, was enough for the British fans to be positively raucous at their hopes in this competition. The dull draw against Scotland saw their critics lash out at their boring, defensive display. So which team will turn up to face fellow group leaders Czech Republic?
The match at Wembley could be crucial to the English mentality even if they lose and still advance as a third placed team. Southgate says Harry Kane will start despite his captain’s ordinary form of late.
“He is fundamental not only to the goals he scores but the build-up play and everything else he brings,” says Southgate.
England may rest Phil Foden with suspension looming if he gets cautioned. That could open the door for Jack Grealish to start as the Three Lions look to add attacking intent to their good defensive pattern they have implemented to date.
Croatia vs Scotland
Croatia look like a shadow of the side that lost to France in the final of the last World Cup. They managed to earn a draw against the Czechs which keep their hopes of progressing alive but at this point, there are doubts as to their best starting lineup.
The indecisiveness and need to win could help Scotland spring a shock. The Tartan Army will be ready to build on their rugged defensive display against England and then hope that Che Adams can find a goal at the other end. Expect this one to have no more than two goals in it.
As it stands:
Czech Republic – 4
England – 4
Croatia – 1
Scotland – 1
What needs to happen to qualify:
- Czech Republic will go through as group winners if they avoid defeat against England. They will finish second if they lose and Scotland beat Croatia. They will only finish third if they lose and Croatia win by enough to overtake them on overall goal difference.
- England will go through if they draw or if Scotland do not win, and will finish top if they beat Czech Republic. They will only finish third if they lose and Scotland win by enough to overtake them on overall goal difference.
- Croatia must win to stay in contention to be at least a best third-placed team, though they can still overtake Czech Republic for second place on overall goal difference.
- Scotland must win to finish at least third, and can still overtake England for second place on overall goal difference.