EURO 2020 Preview: Group D

Welcome to part 4 of our Euro 2020 preview series, where we dissect the 24 participants, one group, at a time, trying to predict who will succeed or flop at this summer’s tournament.

group d euro 2020

This time we will be looking at Group D, featuring two nations, a recent world cup finalist and the re-ignition of an age-old rivalry. Who are set to face the highs and lows of Group D? Let’s take a look at the four teams involved.

England

england euro 2020

How did they get here?

We kick off Group D with England, one of the host nations courtesy of Wembley Stadium, a ground which is also set to host the semi-final and final of the tournament. England booked a place at EURO 2020 after cruising through qualifying Group A, with a record of 7-0-1. It was a goal-laden campaign, with the Three Lions finding the net 37 times in those eight matches.

History in the tournament

This will be England’s tenth appearance at the Euros, a competition in which they have blown hot and cold in over the years. The high points include a semi-final spot in 1968, when the Three Lions were world champions, and again in 1996 as hosts. However, England’s last appearance in the most recent tournament of 2016 ended in one of the team’s greatest humiliations, being dumped out via a 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the Last 16. They’ll be hoping to avoid such misery this time.

The Star Player

Harry Kane led by example at Russia 2018, and it is no surprise that he has remained as England’s talisman ever since. The World Cup Golden Boot winner scored in every single game of the qualifying campaign, finishing up with 12 goals and being the highest scorer in all of Europe. The England captain will be hungry for goals at this tournament, and doing so would go some way to banishing the demons of EURO 2016, where Kane struggled terribly

How will they fare?

It will likely be a tough fight between England and Croatia to claim top spot in the group, but whoever does so is in for an incredibly tough time in the Last 16, likely facing one of Group F giants France, Germany or Portugal. A runner up spot would see the team face the Group E runners up, but with another Group F giant waiting for them in the quarter finals. Either way, it’s difficult to see England’s young team conquering one of these footballing giants.

Croatia

Croatia euro 2020

How did they get here?

Facing England first in Group D will be Croatia, a hotly-anticipated rematch of the world cup semi-final in 2018. The Balkan nation advanced through to the finals of EURO 2020 by topping Qualifying Group E with a record of 5-2-1, finishing three points clear of second-placed Wales.

History in the tournament

Croatia have done relatively well in terms of qualifying for the Euros since achieving independence from the former Yugoslavia, making it to six tournaments out of a possible seven. Across those six tournaments, a quarter-final appearance in 1996 and again in 2008 has been the team’s best finish. Last time, In 2016, they were on the end of a dramatic defeat by eventual champions Portugal in the last 16, succumbing to a goal scored in the very last minute of extra time.

The Star Player

The 2018 World Cup was a legendary one for Croatian football, but even more so for captain Luka Modric. Long considered one of the finest midfielders in the world, Modric claimed the Golden Ball in Russia and has continued his role as the lynchpin of the Croatian midfield ever since. He scored twice in the qualifying campaign, and at age 35 is still among the world’s elite midfielders.

How will they fare?

If Croatia are to finish either first or second as expected, their fate in this tournament could be pretty much the same as what we highlighted for England. That is, in either the last 16 in one path or the quarter-finals in another, they will likely face one of the daunting names of Group F; France, Portugal or Germany. Croatia are a strong team, but a match up against one of those three could mark the end of their tournament.

Scotland

robertson and scotland celebrate victory against serbia

How did they get here?

Moving on to another host nation, it will be Scotland who occupy the third spot in Group D. One of the four teams to benefit from the Nations League qualifying path, Scotland entered playoff Path C alongside Norway, Serbia, and Israel. The Scots defeated Israel on penalties in the semi-final, before another, equally dramatic penalty shootout win over Serbia in the final sent the Tartan Army to their first tournament in a generation.

History in the tournament

When Scotland take to the field it’ll be the team’s first appearance in a major football tournament since 1998, and you have to go back another two years for their last appearance in the Euros, in which they also played England. Overall, this is only Scotland’s third appearance in the European Championship, with the previous two in the 90’s both ending in a Group Stage exit.

The Star Player

Andrew Robertson has developed into one of the best left backs in the world during his time at Liverpool, and it’s no surprise to see him take on the mantle of Scotland captain in recent years. Occasionally criticised for his form with the national team, his influence has started to grow in recent matches, with his crossing being a key weapon for the Scots in the pre-tournament friendlies. He also scored once in qualifying, with a blistering strike against Cyprus.

How will they fare?

As the third-lowest ranked team at the tournament, not too much is expected of the Scots, who will likely be competing with the Czech Republic for third place in the group. The presence of some decent players means they shouldn’t be completely written off, but in truth, any points on the board would be a great achievement, particularly if they come via the match-up with England.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic euro 2020

How did they get here?

Last but not least in Group D we have the Czech Republic, who made it to these finals via Qualifying Group A, the same as England. The Czechs didn’t have the best campaign in qualifying, finishing with a record of 5-0-3, but it was still enough to finish four points clear of third-placed Kosovo.

History in the tournament

Including the days of Czechoslovakia, this will be the team’s 10th appearance at the Euros. Their finest moment came in 1976, when Antonin Panenka’s legendary penalty led Czechoslovakia to the trophy. In the very first tournament appearance of the Czech Republic era, the team made it all the way to the final in Euro 1996, their best performance in the Euros since gaining independence. 2016 wasn’t so glamorous, though, with the Czechs crashing out in the Group Stage.

The Star Player

A squad with an interesting mix of players, West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek could well be the one to watch for the Czech Republic, having grown his reputation massively in the past 12 months. Positively lethal in the air, Soucek netted his first hat-trick for the national team back in the Spring despite playing as a central midfielder, and he’ll certainly be a handful for opposition defenders at set pieces in the upcoming matches.

How will they fare?

There’s nothing to say that the Czech Republic can’t challenge England and Croatia for a top two spot in the group given the team’s talent, but a third place finish perhaps seems more likely. If they were to qualify from the third spot in Group D, they’d be facing a group winner in the following round, likely one of Belgium, Netherlands and Spain. It’d be difficult to imagine them getting past such an opponent, but advancing to the knockouts would still represent an improvement on the last tournament.

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