England close out their Group D fixtures on Tuesday evening with a ‘winner-takes-all’ clash against table topping Czech Republic at Wembley, and the home fans will be looking for a much better performance than Friday night’s drab 0-0 draw with Scotland.
Ironically the point gained in that game means Gareth Southgate’s side are guaranteed a place in the Last 16 alongside their opponents, so now comes the decision on who each will be against.
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A win for either side will see them face the runner up from Group F. A draw will see the Czechs host that runner up in London, whilst England travel to Copenhagen to face the runner-up from Group E. Both sides can also still finish 3rd, and book a date with either the winner of Group E in Glasgow, or the Netherlands in Budapest. There’s a lot still to play for.
Jaroslav Šilhavý’s side will be no pushovers either, having already beaten Scotland and taken a more-than-deserved point from World Cup finalists Croatia.
His team have been full throttle since the start of this tournament, and they won’t be intimidated by an England side full of big names – especially one they beat in qualifying for this tournament.
The Three Lions will not have fond memories of that night in Prague, in which they were outclassed by their hosts, and will hope an injection of fresh talent will be enough to turn the tables here.
Gareth Southgate is expected to make several changes to the side that started most recently, with many England fans hoping to see Jack Grealish given the nod to start. He came off the bench on Friday and was fouled four times in 28 minutes, so if he starts keep an eye on my Twitter for some foul-based selections.
The Man in the Middle
Being handed the reins for this encounter is Portuguese official Artur Soares Dias, who certainly didn’t disappoint in his maiden outing at this tournament.
The card-happy referee booked four players in stoppage time of Turkey’s 2-0 defeat to Wales, a game in which he blew for 27 fouls, and wasn’t shy of reaching into his pocket in Liga NOS last season – handing out 95 yellows in 19 games.
Assuming Grealish gets the nod, I like Tomas Soucek Over 2.5 Combined Fouls Won/Conceded at 8/11. He was involved in 165 fouls in his 50 starts last season (3.3 per game) and should have his hands full here, with 6 involvements in his most recent game against Grealish.
With that in mind, the 5/1 on offer for Soucek to be Carded at bet365 also appeals. Soares Dias will only let so much go, which should be bad news for a persistent fouler like the West Ham midfielder.
I also like the look of Patrick Schick Over 2.5 Shots at 5/4 with bet365. He is happy to shoot from anywhere, as we saw against Scotland, and provides a serious aerial threat from crosses and set pieces.
He has taken 10 shots in his two games at this tournament, averaging one every 16 minutes, and will be his side’s main outlet here.
Interestingly 37% of his shots for Bayer Leverkusen last season were taken with his head, so the 15/8 about him having 1+ headed shot on target certainly appeals.
In terms of a BetBuilder, I’ll be trying my luck with a 45/1 double on Tomas Soucek to be carded and Jordan Henderson to be carded.
Of course wait until line-ups are out, but with Mason Mount isolating after Billy Gilmore’s positive COVID test I wouldn’t be surprised to see Henderson given the nod tonight from the off to test his fitness.
The Liverpool captain has picked up seven bookings in his last 15 international appearances and he won’t hold back in the tackles.