England to continue Group A dominance
England return to international action when they face the Czech Republic in the Euro qualifiers. Will it be another walk in the park or can the Czechs spring a surprise or two? Have a read of our preview here:
Czech Republic still hope to qualify
Cast you mind back to the heady summer of 1996. The Euros were being played right on our doorsteps, Gazza was blond and at his best, Gary Neville’s centre parting was still considered cool and “Football’s Coming Home” by the Lightning Seeds was blaring out of every car stereo in the country.
The Czech Republic, meanwhile, had a very good group of football players lining up for the national team, many of whom would ply their trade in the top leagues in Europe over the coming years.
Powered by Pavel Nedved, the Czech team would reach the final and players like Karel Poborsky, Patrick Berger and Vladimir Smicer would become household names in English football.
Fast forward to 2019 and there is a very different look to the national side. The golden generation that existed in 1996 has made way to a team that still competes well but lacks the naturally gifted individuals that made them so enjoyable to watch all those years ago.
Patrik Schick is clearly a talented player although his goal scoring efforts at Sampdoria didn’t translate in Rome for the Giallorossi. He found the net in 3-0 win over Montenegro in the last qualifier – a result which leaves Jaroslav Silhavy’s side second in Group A, just three points behind England having played a game more – and the striker will be key if the Czech Republic are to get any change out of England.
No more defending like that please
England have been so assured in the qualifiers, not just for this tournament but historically too, that no one really saw them being vulnerable at the back yet Kosovo highlighted some glaring weaknesses at St Mary’s.
Yes, the Three Lions triumphed but against a better side they clearly would have struggled and giving away three goals to a side who England would expect to beat easily will not have gone down well with Gareth Southgate or his coaching team.
The squad selection appears to be solid enough with Harry Maguire likely to keep his place. It would be good to see Tyrone Mings get a chance and Joe Gomez also deserves to play but getting the win will be the only thing on Southgate’s mind come Friday.
Czech Republic vs. England betting tip
Given England’s superiority, it is hard to see the Czech Republic getting anything from this one so backing England to win by three or more goals at odds of 11/2 with betway is well worth a punt.