These two teams are no strangers to playing one another and have done so at least five times over the years with England losing just once.
Although England has home advantage as the game is taking place at Wembley, we all know that that counts for nothing at times, yet fate has brought these two together in several big games over recent years and there is none bigger than the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final when Croatia came from behind to win 2-1 in extra time, although they went on to lose to France in the final.
But hopes are high for England, who could be playing the first of six games at Wembley in these finals if everything goes to plan and will be looking for that added home advantage and fan voice to help them get over the line.
- Head to head:
England have lost just once against Croatia in five attempts W3, D1, L1.
- Previous Tournaments:
England have never won their opening UEFA European Championship finals match D5, L4 but doing so here would see them record seven consecutive international wins for the first time in more than six years. Croatia are yet to progress past the quarter-final stage of this tournament, they’ve never lost their opening match at the Euros W4, D1.
England are 1/66 to win the game and Croatia 5/80 to win the game.
- Form over the year:
England have an unbeaten record at Wembley during UEFA/FIFA international tournaments W6, D5 and have won six consecutive matches as hosts anywhere, on each occasion netting the opener. Croatia has won twice in nine previous matches D2, L5
- Defensive Record:
England have conceded just once during their current six-game run and five to Croatia in previous matches. Croatia may have a slow start as they’ve struggled to score inside the opening 15 minutes in 15 consecutive matches W6, D2, L7.
- Players to watch:
England talisman Harry Kane is no stranger to scoring against Croatia at Wembley as he did so in 2018. Yet Croatia’s Ivan Perišić scored the opener in two of their last three internationals, also netting twice at Euro 2016.
- Team News:
Bukayo Saka (England) has been suffering with a hip injury and is in a race to be fit. Croatia has no injury worries. While Dejan Lovren (Croatia) has a slight injury worry.
- Predicted Line-ups:
England possible starting line-up: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Shaw; Trippier, Rice, Phillips, Chilwell; Mount, Grealish; Kane
Croatia possible starting line-up: Livakovic; Vrsaljko, Vida, Caleta-Car, Barisic; Brozovic, Kovacic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Petkovic
Gareth Southgate, (England): “We obviously had the disappointment in Moscow. We’ve had two very close games since then. They are a very experienced team, with outstanding players, great mentality, incredible spirit and tactically adaptable, so they really are a big challenge for us for our first game. But we know that we have been able to beat them.”
Zlatko Dalić, (Croatia): “[England] are one of the favourites to win the Euro. They have an excellent team, a lot of top players, especially in attack. We will need to stop them and it won’t be easy, especially at Wembley. Our first and main goal is to get through the group stage. Then we should think step by step, but I wouldn’t look that far ahead now. First, we need first to do everything we can to reach the knockout phase.”
Last six form guide:
This game could be a tight one with a winner of the odd goal or two but stats go in England’s favour as they have won their last 12 matches against sides ranked outside of FIFA’s top ten, scoring an average of 3.25 goals per game.
A strong pick for both managers will make it an interesting and possibly tight game but both teams have the strength and ability to get out of the group stages. This game may be the decider as to who finishes in the first place though.
England hold the home advantage, meaning less travel over the tournament but old timer Luka Modric may not be ready to give it all up yet and will be looking to take his Croatia side that one step further than they did three years ago.