England draw World Cup semi-final foes for Euro 2020 group stages
Gareth Southgate’s England have been drawn against Croatia who knocked them out of the World Cup at the semi-final stage in 2018 and the ever-improving Czech Republic. The fourth and final place will be awarded to the winner from play-off path C and could be one of Scotland, Israel, Serbia or Norway.
Croatia famously knocked England out of the World Cup in 2018 with a 2-1 win, after Southgate’s team got the country believing again. He will be hoping for more of the same next summer, and with the likes of first-teamers Kane, Rashford and Sterling hitting peak form and youngsters Sancho, Maddison and Mount pushing for a first-team place, the signs are promising.
England will play all three group games at Wembley, which gives them the home advantage at the perfect time. If England goes on to top their group, they will have a large test waiting for them with the possibility of meeting one of France, Germany or Portugal. If they finish second, they could face Spain, Poland or Sweden.
With second place throwing up a potentially easier tie, some expect England will play for second place; however, Southgate thinks differently, saying: “If you can win and be top seeds you can take control of your own destiny. Let’s hope we have that decision to make, we have to be confident in our own ability and take on whoever comes.
“I’m never sure what a good draw is. We have played at least two of the teams before and for us to be playing at Wembley is something very special and we are really looking forward to the tournament.”
Next year’s tournament will feature 51 matches in 12 cities from Baku to Bilbao with both semi-finals and the final to be played at Wembley Stadium. Euro 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of the first European Championships.
The favourites to win the tournament are France just ahead of England, Belgium, Germany and Spain. However, expect another strong performance from Portugal led by Cristiano Ronaldo and with a new crop of talented youngsters – the perfect mix of experience and youth.
Group A: Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales
Group B: Belgium, Russia, Denmark, Finland
Group C: Ukraine, Netherlands, Austria, Path D/A*
Group D: England, Croatia, Czech Republic, Path C**
Group E: Spain, Poland, Sweden, Path B***
Group F: Germany, France, Portugal, Path A/D*
*Iceland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary / Georgia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus
**Scotland, Israel, Norway, Serbia
***Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland
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