We kick off our Euro 2020 previews by looking at the Three Lions, who are hoping to win the tournament for the first time with the help of a trio of Chelsea players…
England – Group D
An abundance of exciting attackers means many have identified England as possible Euro 2020 champions, even if history is not on their side. The Three Lions have not made it further than the semi-final stage since the European Championships’ inaugural tournament in 1960.
Their most recent last-four appearance was in 1996, and just as then England will have something of a home advantage in this year’s competition. Indeed, should Gareth Southgate’s team top Group D and reach the final, they would only play one game away from Wembley.
Injuries to senior pros Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, as well as strong English representation in the European finals, have disrupted preparations, but with the likes of Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho and our own Mason Mount at his disposal, Southgate will expect his team to threaten in the final third.
As at the most recent World Cup, winning the group will likely leave England with a tougher route to the final, including a round-of-16 tie against the runner-up of France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary’s group.
Croatia, Czech Republic and old foes Scotland lie in wait in Group D. England begin their campaign on Sunday 13 June against the side that beat them in the World Cup semi-finals three years ago, before Scotland and Czech Republic visit Wembley as the underdogs, but nonetheless dangerous and well-organised opposition.
Chelsea great Steve Clarke is in charge of the Scots, enjoying their first major tournament appearance since 1998, while Czech Republic are full of energy and runners from deep, typified by West Ham’s Tomas Soucek.
Mount’s form for club and country has made him indispensable and, barring injury, he is expected to start either in midfield, or in an attacking role off Kane.
Southgate has expressed his desire to be able to play a back three or a back four depending on the opponent and the match situation. A wing-back system could favour Ben Chilwell and Reece James, who have both been outstanding for Chelsea there in recent months.
It is a choice between Chilwell and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw at left-back/left wing-back, while injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold means there are now just three right-backs in the squad, with James joined by Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier, both vital to England’s success in Russia in 2018. Southgate has repeatedly noted in the build-up that James and Walker are also capable of playing on the right side of the back three.
England v Croatia, Wembley, Sunday 13 June, 2pm
England v Scotland, Wembley, Friday 18 June, 8pm
England v Czech Republic, Wembley, Tuesday 22 June, 8pm
If England win their group, they will play the runner-up of Group F (France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary).
If England come second, they will play the runner-up of Group E (Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia).
That is because four third-placed teams also qualify so winners of the group do not automatically play a runner-up, and vice versa.
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Man Utd), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Defenders: John Stones (Man City), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), Kyle Walker (Man City), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Reece James (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Ben White (Brighton)
Midfielders: Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Man City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Check back in the coming days for previews of each of the 10 countries with Chelsea representation at Euro 2020...