inobo Stadium - Euro 2020 Qualification
Gareth Southgate’s England are looking to maintain their 100% start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as they visit the Czech Republic on Friday evening. The home team are well placed in second in Group A, although surprise package Kosovo are hot on their heels and playing without pressure.
Raheem Sterling helped himself to a hat-trick as England thrashed the Czech Republic 5-0 at Wembley in March, which was the first time the countries had met since 2008. They drew 2-2 in a friendly on that occasion, 10 years after a 2-0 England victory in another friendly. All three previous meetings between the teams have been on English soil, so the Three Lions are breaking new ground this week.
Dele Alli was the major omission from England’s squad, with Southgate axing the Tottenham forward following a poor run of form. Harry Kane captains the away team, with Jadon Sancho pushing Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford for a place in the starting XI. Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to start at right-back, while Chelsea youngsters Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have been rewarded for their early season performances with their first senior call-ups.
Hertha Berlin midfielder Vladimir Darida captains the hosts, with the 29-year-old leading the way in terms of international appearances on 57 caps. Patrik Schick, on loan at RB Leipzig from Roma, has nine goals in 20 appearances for his country, and is bidding to start up front alongside or instead of Michael Krmencík, who has eight in 21.
Czech Republic v England Preview and Predictions
England have made a superb start to their qualifying campaign, with the goals raining down and all opponents swept aside. The Three Lions dismantled the Czech Republic just over six months ago, with Jaroslav Silhavy’s side facing an uphill task if they want to avoid a third defeat in six games.
Southgate’s youthful side have lit up this group so far, providing their supporters with plenty of excitement on the way to four wins from four. England have scored five times on three occasions, beating Bulgaria 4-0 on the other. The Czechs were no match for England’s pace and movement last time, and it’s hard to see that being much different here.
The Three Lions are ranked fourth in the world - 40 places above the Czech Republic - thanks to an impressive array of performances over the last couple of years, and they are the 4/9 favourites to pick up another solid victory on Friday evening.
The home team meanwhile are priced at 8/1, which is a reflection of the gulf in class between the teams in March. Silhavy’s side lost 3-1 at home to Brazil a few days after that, and also lost 2-1 in Kosovo, with the new arrivals assured of a play-off place thanks to their Nations League performance. The Czechs beat Montenegro home and away either side of that, and they are 15/4 to claim a point from England.
England to win and BTTS at 23/20
The Three Lions conceded three times on home soil against Kosovo last time out - the visitors are still favourites but the Czech Republic could have a say after scoring nine goals in their last four games.
Sterling to score first at 5/1
The Manchester City forward was excellent when these countries last locked horns, and will fancy his chances of adding to his tally of 10 goals in 53 international appearances.