England vs Czech Republic
These are exciting times to be an England supporter.
Personally, for all the razzamatazz and rhetoric that we constantly hear about the current set-up, I believe the nation is no closer now than it has been in any of the past 20 years from challenging for a major tournament.
But forget my cynicism, us fans.
As the race for Euro 2020 begins in earnest, backers of the Three Lions have every reason to be optimistic.
First, came the run to the World Cup semi-finals last summer and a feel-good factor which embraced much of the country.
Then came the qualification to the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League in a group which also comprised World Cup runners-up Croatia and Spain.
More still, the development of the national game at many levels has not gone unnoticed by even the most successful of rivals.
So, qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro should be overcome and produce some Euro 2020 qualifying highlights, right?
There may be a fresh look to some of the team, particularly with a number of players already withdrawing due to injury.
Manager Gareth Southgate is considering pairing Everton’s Michael Keane with Harry Maguire at the heart of England’s defence, in the absence of the injured John Stones, and held one-on-one meetings with his players at St George’s Park earlier this week.
They will be led by their talisman, skipper Harry Kane, who has trained with the squad along with the uncapped Declan Rice and Callum Hudson-Odoi, himself called up despite yet to start a Premier League match for Chelsea.
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Alongside Kane, there may also be changes.
Marcus Rashford has a slight ankle problem, rendering him a doubt at a sold-out Wembley. The Manchester United forward has been troubled by the issue for almost a month, with Borussia Dortmund’s high-flying Jadon Sancho and Hudson-Odoi being potential replacements.
Even if England fail to top Group A, which also includes Bulgaria and Kosovo, they are guaranteed a qualifying play-off place after winning their group in the Nations League.
Kane has admitted this week he has his sights set on silverware.
2018 was a great year for the Spurs frontman, winning the Golden Boot in Russia, an achievement that will stay with him forever. But he craves a major team trophy, and the Nations League finals this summer gives him a fresh chance of that.
Beat Holland and then Portugal or Switzerland, and Kane will be lifting the trophy, giving him something he has not yet tasted in his career.
That is one goal, another is Euro 2020.
The road to that major tournament starts at Wembley on Friday night.
Exciting times indeed.
Jadon Sancho in training ahead of England’s Euro 2020 qualifying match against Czech Republic
Since Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic, these nations have only met twice, both in international friendlies.
In 1998, Darren Anderton and Paul Merson goals gave the Three Lions a 2-0 success at Wembley.
Ten years later, another friendly finished 2-2 with Wes Brown and Joe Cole on target in what proved to be Glenn Hoddle’s final match in charge of the national team.
During 12 meetings between the former Czechoslovakia and England, there have been three draws, seven England successes and two Czechoslovakia victories.
One of those was in qualifying for the European Championships of 1976 when a Mick Channon goal was cancelled out by Zdenek Nehoda and Dusan Gallis.
The central European nation qualified for the tournament at England’s expense and went onto their greatest ever football triumph – defeating West Germany in the final (in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw) to be crowned European champions.
||England vs Czech Republic
||England Asian Handicap -1.75 @ 2.35
|March 23, 03:45 (GMT+8)
England are firm favourites against a Czech side which didn’t reach last summer’s World Cup in Russia and was unable to progress out of the group stage at Euro 2016.
You can get 1X2 odds on the home side @ 1.29 with the visitors out @ 9.75. The draw is available @ 4.90.
If you see a shock on the cards, how about Asian Handicap Czech Republic + 1.25 @ 2.33, or even double chance – Czech Republic or draw — @ 3.30.
Goals are expected and there are various Euro 2020 qualifying betting odds to consider.
Total goal 0-1 @ 2.96, total goal 2-3 @ 1.87, total goal 4-6 @ 3.50 and over 2.75 goals @ 2.33.
A repeat of the score from their last meeting just over a decade ago – correct score 2-2 – is a tempting 48.00 for some.
England have so often flattered to deceive, why will this time be any different?
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:
| = €20 (Highly confident)
|| = €10 (CONFIDENT)
|| = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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