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The Roar's Euro 2020 expert tips and predictions: Match Day 1 (part three)

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Expert
12th June, 2021
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One of the real big guns comes out to play on Day 3 of Euro2020 with England facing Croatia at Wembley Stadium.

Group C play also begins with Austria battling giant-killers North Macedonia and the Netherlands meeting Ukraine in Amsterdam. It looks like one of the most contentious groups, with any slip up from the Austrians or Dutch threatening to turn it into one that remains undecided until the final matchday.

Please excuse any lag in updates to the tipping table. Early morning matches in AEST make things a little tricky and gradually over the coming days all results will be updated as soon as is physically possible.

Good luck with your tips for the evening and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say in the voice of the crowd. Here are the panel’s thoughts on all the day three action.

Mike Tuckerman
England, North Macedonia, draw

England might be favourites to go far in Euro 2020, but they’ll have to start by finally winning an opening group stage game. Their record in the first game of European Championships is terrible, but they’ll never have a better opportunity than when they host Croatia at Wembley. England came from behind to down Croatia 2-1 there in the UEFA Nations League in November 2018 and they should be good enough to conjure a similar result against a Croatian side that can no longer rely on veterans Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic for inspiration.

There’s gotta be an upset at some point, right? Austria are a serviceable enough side and are actually chasing their first-ever win at the European Championships, but they might have to wait a little longer against a North Macedonian one fuelled by national pride. The Risovi have never been anywhere near the Euros and a recent name change notwithstanding – to say nothing of the controversy around which jerseys they’ll be wearing – they’ll turn up in Bucharest spoiling for a fight.

They’re hardly the most technically proficient team in the tournament but in evergreen veteran Goran Pandev, they’ve got a talisman who could inspire the first major shock of Euro 2020.

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Frank de Boer is the Basil Fawlty of football management and while just about anyone else could drive this talented Netherlands side to victory, we shouldn’t discount De Boer’s unique ability to get the absolute worst out of his teams. He was already missing Virgil van Dijk through injury, while the withdrawal of Donny de Beek is another serious blow and the Dutch are now without their starting goalkeeper after Jasper Cillessen contracted COVID.

This Ukrainian side are nothing to write home about and while they’ll be at a disadvantage with the game taking place in Amsterdam, they should be stubborn enough to dig in for at least a point.

Stuart Thomas
England, draw, Netherlands

Does anyone else hear the fateful sounds of yet another disastrous opening game for England in a major tournament? I do. However, I feel the Three Lions will be just a little too strong across the park for what is an unconvincing Croatian squad, despite not playing their best. If given another start, watch for West Ham United’s Declan Rice in midfield and be prepared for Harry Kane to find the net at least once. Could this finally be the year?

Austria are not the most attacking team on the planet and North Macedonia are perhaps the most unpredictable. This is a serious toss-up and not the foregone conclusion that the bookies appear to have labelled it. Should the outsiders manage a goal, it is hard to see it getting pegged back. Throw in the venue, Romania, and your guess is as good as mine.

I have enjoyed the recent work of the Netherlands. They are a far better unit than at many stages in the recent past and home ground advantage will be more than enough to see them begin the tournament in fine style. Should Memphis Depay find the net early, look out. He could well have a very shiny boot heading his way.

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Stefan de vrij of Netherlands Controls the ball

(Photo by NESImages/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Texi Smith
England, Austria, Netherlands

The revenge mission will be completed in front of a fevered crowd at Wembley. Like Stuart Pearce scoring in that penalty shootout, this will be more about redemption and character than about the performance or goals. Harry Kane will score and Jack Grealish will get minutes, but every time Croatia get possession they will look dangerous. A 2-1 win for the home side, heart-attacks and frayed nerves and England will be on their way to a Group D win.

Austria’s trouble is scoring goals. North Macedonia haven’t tested themselves since they caused a massive upset by beating Germany in April. Those delightful shirts of the Balkans team will however be their only highlight today as their exciting approach play is nullified and the Austrians break away three times to register what looks like a routine 3-0 win.

Valentino Lazaro will provide the pace and crossing and Sasa Kalajdzic the power up top. The scoreline, though, will hide the enterprise and flair of North Macedonia, a penalty miss by Ezgjan Alioski will be tough on them and Austria will be flattered to win by such a big margin.

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The Dutch will be too strong for Ukraine, even though the fans will be nervous coming into the tournament, unsure as to what version of their team shows up. The home advantage of Amsterdam Arena will play into their favour and Premier League star Andriy Yarmolenko will give the hosts a tough time in the early stages, but once Frenkie De Jong gets some quality possession, the Oranje will dominate.

Memphis Depay to get the first two of his haul in this tournament, the second a fortuitous penalty that hits the bar and bounces over the line.

Pablo Bateson
England, North Macedonia, Netherlands

With home advantage at Wembley and led by Harry Kane, England should do just enough to overcome Croatia in a tight affair.

England's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the World Cup Group F qualifying soccer match between England and Slovenia at Wembley stadium in London, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. England won 1-0.

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The runners up at Russia 2018 have only won twice, with five losses in the last nine outings, and it’s doubtful that even their evergreen genius midfield general Modric will inspire them to victory.

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Debutante North Macedonia produced a shock away win over Germany on April Fools Day 2021 and are capable of upsetting Austria. In the 2019 Euro qualifiers ‘Unsere Burschen’ produced a double over their Group C rivals and are favoured to prevail again. However, I am tipping an upset.

Netherlands are hot favourites to open their campaign with a win in their official capital Amsterdam. Potent striker Memphis Depay could be a decisive factor for Oranje in overcoming Ukraine, with recent form against higher-ranking opponents that is mostly poor.

Match Day 1 Mike Stuart Texi Pablo The Crowd
ENG vs CRO ENG ENG ENG ENG ?
MKD vs AUT MKD Draw AUT MKD ?
NED vs UKR Draw NED NED NED ?
Total 3 2 1 2 1

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