Group E: “An intriguing tactical battle, a slow-burning minor classic, an enthralling game of subtly shifting patterns … ah, who are we kidding? This was dreadful, the worst game of the tournament so far by some margin,” writes Jonathan Wilson. Read on …
Group E: In Saint Petersburg, Sweden have just beaten Slovakia in one of the worst games of football I have ever seen. It briefly sparked into life for seven minutes halfway through the second half, with Emil Forsberg’s penalty guaranteeing his side’s passage to the second round, following a game which so dreadful the BBC punditry panel more or less abandoned their half-time analysis in favour of a sing-song.
Zlatko Dalic speaks …
“We have not been good lately in our attacking phase and that’s something we need to improve,” said Croatia’s manager. “We need to do better in that. We need to be more vertical, more offensive and create more chances in attack.
“We are playing against a team that defeated Scotland and started with a win. They are in a more comfortable situation than us, but we are aware that we need a win to bring back our confidence – and we ready to do it.”
“Luka Modrič is an excellent player – for me, one of the best players in the world,” said the Czech Republic manager. “He can use up the slightest space to create big chances. We have to pay a lot of attention to him and close him down very tightly.”
On rumours he make a change to his line-up. “It is true that we are discussing a change in the starting line-up, but we will first tell it to the team,” he said. “As regards our positive mood, I can assure you we are firmly on the ground and we know that we are going to play against very strong opponents.”
Some pre-match listening
Football Weekly, the Guardian’s insightful, amusing, chart-topping, multiple award-winning (at least until Peter Crouch started flexing his pod-muscle) podcast has gone daily for the duration of Euro 2020. You can listen to it here and download it for free in all the usual pod places.
Early team news
Luka Modric was spotted training on his own in the day or two following his side’s defeat at Wembley but is expected to be fit for today’s game, where he could be partnered by Nikola Vlasic, who started Sunday’s game on the bench. Centre-back Dejan Lovren missed out against England but is believed to be available for selection although this game has come too soon for Rangers left-back Borna Barisic, who remains sidelined with a back injury and has not travelled to Scotland. The Czech Republic, by contrast, have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Group D: Croatia v Czech Republic
While consumers of British media outlets could understandably be forgiven for thinking that England’s match against Scotland is today’s only Group D show in town, Croatia and the Czech Republic must first duke it out at Hampden Park before we can all get on with the fun.
An ageing Croatia side massively underwhelmed in defeat in their opener against England and are in desperate need of at least a point, while the Czech Republic will be hoping to build on their win over Scotland in Glasgow.
Kick-off in Scotland is at 5pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.
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