Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Gareth Southgate’s England open their Euro 2020 qualification campaign with a clash against the Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday evening. Southgate will be hoping that his team can build on their recent UEFA Nations League success, when they topped Group A4, and enjoyed good wins over Croatia at home and Spain away. Southgate must pick from a 22-man squad now, with Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold having had to withdraw with a back injury.
Czech gaffer Jaroslav Silhavy is four games into his spell as coach of his national side, and he has led his team to two Nations League victories over Sovakia, as well as a win over Poland and a defeat to Ukraine so far. The Czechs are currently ranked 44th in the world, and are not the power that they were just over a decade or so ago, when the likes of Molan Baros graced the team.
England vs Czech Republic Prediction: England 1-0 Czechs
Our prediction for the outcome of this game is that England will win it 1-0. We are not anticipating a massively exciting encounter, but Southgate’s England should have sufficient quality to get past a Czech team which is in a period of transition. The Czechs were hammered 5-1 away in Russia in the game immediately before Jaroslav Silhavy took over as manager, and they are still rebuilding, sespite some encouraging results in the Nations League. It is unlikely to be an exciting game, though, and the Czechs may well set out to frustrate the home side in an attempt to secure an away point.
Our recommended tip: England 1-0
Our featured tip for this game comes from William Hill, who are offering odds of 4/1 on our prediction of a 1-0 home win turning out to be accurate. We think that this bet offers good value to punters in terms of the odds on offer. We suspect that goals may be hard to come by at Wembley on Friday evening, especially given that the Czechs are likely to want to play it tight and hold out for what would be a precious away point against one of the favourites to win Group A.
These countries have played each other just twice before in their histories, though England did play the former state of Czechoslovakia many times before the country split into two nations.
The first time England played the Czech Republic was in 1998 in a friendly. The game was held at Wembley and was won 2-0 by the home side. The goals were scored by Darren Anderton and Paul Merson. The second meeting, in 2008, was also a friendly at Wembley. It ended 2-2. England’s goals were scored by Wes Brown and Joe Cole, with the Czech scorers being Milan Baros and Marek Jankulovski.
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Players to watch: Jadon Sancho & Patrik Schick
It will be interesting to see how much game time Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho is given by Gareth Southgate on Friday evening. The 18-year-old Londoner is enjoying his time in the Bundesliga, and has provided eight goals and 12 assists in his 26 league matches in Germany so far this season. He has also been in impressive form in the Champions League, with one goal in his seven games in the competition.
Czech striker Patrik Schick will need to be watched closely by England’s defenders on Friday evening at Wembley. Currently playing in Italy’s Serie A with Roma, Schick is not happy when it comes to his club, having recently described his €42 million move to the club from Sampdoria in 2017 as a “disaster”. Despite his problems in Italy, he scored three goals in four Nations League games for the Czech Republic and will start up front at Wembley.