England will begin their delayed Euro 2020 campaign with a rematch of the 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia at Wembley. Gareth Southgate’s men lost that match in heart-breaking fashion with Mario Mandzukic scoring the winner in extra time, despite England going 1-0 up early on.
It is not the first time Croatia have been a painful thorn in the side of England. They also prevented the Three Lions from qualifying for Euro 2008, after a disastrous campaign under Steve McClaren culminated in a 3-2 loss.
Since that fateful summer night in Russia three years ago, the two countries have met twice in the Uefa Nations League, again in 2018. They drew 0-0 Rijeka before England got some semblance of revenge with a 2-1 win at Wembley. Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane both scored in the final 15 minutes to pull off the comeback.
It is hoped that there will be some fans in attendance at Wembley, as test events in the FA Cup will determine the feasibility of hosting fans at this summer’s tournament. Boris Johnson has suggested he would like to see Wembley full “to capacity” for the final on July 11.
When is England vs Croatia?
England face Croatia on Sunday, June 13.
What time is kick-off on Sunday?
England vs Croatia will kick off at 2pm BST.
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What TV channel is it on?
England vs Croatia will be broadcast on BBC1, with BBC and ITV sharing the rights.
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England’s Euro 2020 full fixtures
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What is the team news?
Brighton defender Ben White has been added to England’s Euros squad.
The 23-year-old was selected by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was forced to withdraw from the 26-man party due to injury.
White made his debut in last week’s 1-0 friendly win over Austria and impressed as he started alongside Tyrone Mings in Sunday’s victory against Romania.
Alexander-Arnold was ruled out after suffering a thigh injury late on against Austria and Southgate took his time to decide which of his standby players would come in.
Everton defender Ben Godfrey and Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse were other options who both started the Romania game, while Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins were also on the standby list, but will now return home.
What are Croatia saying?
Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic has declared his ambition to recreate his “most beautiful” moment this Sunday – by inflicting fresh misery on England’s Harry Kane.
Petkovic featured in the Dinamo Zagreb frontline that secured a 3-0 second leg victory that dumped Kane’s Tottenham out of the Europa League in March.
A season low-point for Spurs marked the beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho and left Kane planning his future away from the club.
Now Petkovic is hopeful that Dinamo’s stunning win can inspire a carbon copy during Croatia’s opening Euro 2020 Group D clash at Wembley on Sunday.
“I’d love to get one over Harry again, it’d be great if we could pull it off at national team level too,” said the 26-year-old striker, who rated the match in March as “the most beautiful” of his career.
Kane, the England captain, missed a string of chances in that game, and Petkovic, speaking in Croatia’s coastal training base of Rovinj, added: “I have very fond memories of that night as it was one of the brightest moments of my club career.”
Petkovic has big boots to fill after Mario Mandzukic retired from international football following Croatia’s runners-up finish in the 2018 World Cup. Criticised by domestic pundits for a series of goal-shy appearances, Petkovic says he is unfazed. “I’ve had a barren run but I believe that I am capable of playing well at Euro 2020,” he added.
“A responsibility rests on my shoulders, of course, but turning that into relentless pressure or stage fright will do no good. We are aware of England’s roster and that every player on their team has a worthy substitute as they all play at top European clubs… we are not focusing on any individual in particular as England have a squad full of outstanding players, but we’re also confident in our own ability.”
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What’s our prediction?
England will still be carrying the emotional scars of 2018, but this is a very different Croatia side to the one that vanquished them on that fateful night. Modric, Rakitic, Perisic et al are all now into their mid-30s. Meanwhile, England’s midfield has been refreshed with sparkling young talent, with the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham ready to announce themselves on the international stage. In Russia, fatigue cost England and Croatia were able to outlast them. This time, they should have the legs to exact revenge.
Predicted score: England 3 Croatia 1
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