The Western Sydney Wanderers will be heading into season X with plenty of expectations.
Euro 2020 enters deep into Match Day 3 with Italy and Wales the first teams locked into the knockout phase.
Texi Smith and the voice of the crowd hold a slender lead in the tipping and just two matches will be played tonight, with Group D qualification still a chance for all four teams involved.
Croatia and Scotland need three points to join the Czech Republic and England at the top of the group, yet a draw between the Three Lions and the Czechs could make their efforts worthless.
It stands to be a night of drama and agony for some and successful advancement for others. Good luck with your selections for the night ahead and be sure to enter them in the sheet below to have a say as the ever important voice of the crowd.
Here is the way the panel sees all the overnight action unfolding.
This should be the game where Croatia finally cast off the shackles and play like the team that finished runner-up at the 2018 World Cup. Logic would suggest they’ve got the firepower to simply blow Scotland off the park in Glasgow, but if tournament football has ever taught us anything, it’s that technical ability doesn’t always translate to three points.
With the Scots playing out of their own national stadium, I’ll go out on a limb and tip them to win in a huge upset at Hampden Park.
England were diabolical against Scotland last time out and nothing short of a convincing win over the Czech Republic will dampen the feeling that Gareth Southgate’s team are about to bottle another major tournament. England are clearly the better side here, on paper at least, but what they don’t have is Patrik Schick.
The Leverkusen striker has long been a mercurial talent but having already bagged three goals so far, he’ll be out to showcase his wares on the biggest stage of all at Wembley. A draw would see the Czechs top the group, and that’s exactly what I’m tipping here.
I tipped Scotland to shock the world prior to the tournament. Aside from shocking old rival England in a 0-0 draw, they have not really lived up to that prediction just yet.
However, if there ever was a moment. If there ever was a time. If Braveheart meant anything to anyone. This is it! Croatia to be swamped in a tirade of song, blue and goals at Hampden Park.
The collective football world will chuckle if the Poms bottle it again and up against a strong and determined Czech Republic team there is every chance that will happen.
Surely not though. Could England once again provide the punchline to 50 million online football jokes come Wednesday morning? No, they’ll beat the Czechs and show a little class in doing so.
An expectant home crowd at Hampden Park will be Scotland’s worst enemy. So passionate, so proud, so dedicated to their country, the glimmer of hope given at Wembley against England will be well and truly snuffed out as a shot-shy Croatia outclass their opponents in a shootout for qualification.
A draw here is no good for either side, with the chances of qualifying in third with only two points infinitely slim. Scotland’s up-tempo all action style will give them chances early in the game; Andy Robertson grazing the bar and Dejan Lovren miraculously clearing from under his own bar.
Eventually a moment of magic from the puppet master Luka Modric will prise open the home team, Mateo Kovacic curling a shot in for the opener and a deliberate handball on the line ending the contest; Modric adding a second from the spot to send the plucky Scotland packing.
England look set to qualify regardless of the score here, but they will want to do it properly and give a performance that turns around their fickle fans who have frothed since the Scotland game. The danger man for the Czech Republic will be Patrik Schick, but that will detract from the quality in their midfield and the heavy marking of the centre-forward will free up others to create chances at a fervent Wembley.
What a game we’ll have. Phil Foden will be given licence to dazzle, Raheem Sterling will be at his pacey best, and Harry Kane will get the delivery he craves as a fast and concise England smash home two fabulous team goals either side of halftime.
As is tradition, a late goal from Vladimir Darida will give England fans a nail-biting end to the game, but the Three Lions will hang on to take top spot and book a place in the round of 16.
A draw between England and Czech Republic at Wembley would ensure their positions are maintained and both advance to the next stage. The Three Lions will instead want to produce a convincing winning performance to top the group and build momentum into the Round of 16 and beyond.
To help achieve such a goal, it is vital that star captain Harry Kane shows that his lack lustre effort in the previous game was just an aberration. Patrik Schick is in red hot goal scoring touch for the Czechs and unless contained could again have a big say in the final outcome.
In Glasgow, only a win for either side would secure progression, most likely as one of the best ranked third-placed teams. Home advantage is a plus and yet Scotland has failed to score in its two previous matches. This is an opportunity for an Aussie called Lyndon Dykes to step up when his chosen country most needs a winning result.
If Croatia can rediscover the form of prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, that will be good enough to win. The track record of forward Ivan Persic at previous major tournaments and his equaliser in the last game indicates he will be primed for this must win encounter.
|Match Day 3||Mike||Stuart||Texi||Pablo||The Crowd|
|CRO vs SCO||SCO||SCO||CRO||CRO||?|
|CZE vs ENG||Draw||ENG||ENG||ENG||?|