England to get a measure of revenge on Croatia
Group D's fixtures in the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament get underway on Sunday afternoon, with England effectively at least playing all of their group games at their Wembley Stadium home. First up for the Three Lions are Croatia, their eventual conquerors at the last FIFA World Cup in Russia. Since then, the two sides have met twice, with Gareth Southgate's men not tasting defeat in either of those matches. Vatreni are arguably weaker in attack and defence in the intervening three years, so this one could go the way of the 'hosts'. Read our preview here:
The key consideration for Southgate is just how many players on his roster from Champions League finalists Chelsea and Manchester City are truly fit enough to feature, especially from the start. Not only has he hampered himself by effectively bringing along the injured Harry Maguire and extremely rusty Jordan Henderson, he has inadvertently not been done any favours by the aforementioned clubs' very recent participation for Europe's biggest domestic prize. These factors might combine to mean he lines up with four at the back, with Tyrone Mings being favoured for his left foot as the partner for John Stones, should the City stopper be risked. There is also significant pressure for Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish to be present from the outset, and he could be the difference maker between the lines of midfield and attack, and is certain to draw plenty of fouls as always; these can be used as springboards to push their opponents back, and create chances from set plays.
Many of the squad from the runners-up of three years ago are still in situ, including talisman and captain Luka Modrić in what is almost certain to be his last major tournament. The record-breaking midfielder won't have Mario Mandžukić to aim passes toeards anymore, but likely starter Bruno Petković embodies many of the same qualities, particularly in the air and with his defensive contributions. Whilst perhaps not the same threat in front of goal as his predecssor, head coach Zlatko Dalić retains the services of wide man Ivan Perišić on the left flank. Whilst the Internaziole veteran didn't have a stellar campaign in terms of goals, he is always a force to be reckoned with on the biggest stage. Additionally, the midfield three of Modrić, Marcelo Brozović, and Mateo Kovačić can rival any in world football, and they must work in tandem to avoid being overwhelmed in the middle.
It's their year?
England are amongst the favourites for good reason. Despite the defensive unit as a whole being susceptible to individual errors, there is little doubt that many of the young talents in the squad could be difference makers in tight encounters, such as on Sunday. Parimatch have odds of 9.00 for a 2-1 victory that would put Southgate's charges in the driving seat to win the group.
For more on Euro 2021 betting sites, Euro 2021 promos and team by team coverage visit our dedicated Euro 2021 betting guide.