With six months to go until the European Championships, England manager Gareth Southgate will already be well into his preparations ahead of a busy summer.
The 50-year-old was forced to rejig his plans after the Covid-19 pandemic delayed Euro 2020 for 12 months, but it has allowed him extra time to prepare his team as they try to win their country’s first major trophy since 1966.
England demonstrated plenty of promise at the 2018 World Cup as Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals, before losing to Croatia in extra-time in Moscow.
They have not been at their best since that tournament, but the Three Lions are still seen as contenders for glory.
Three Lions Set to Roar?
If the odds are anything to go by, then England have a great chance of winning the European Championships.
The Three Lions are joint-favourites with Belgium at
5/1, with both teams reaching the final four in Russia.
Southgate’s side were drawn in Group D last year, and they face a relatively tough pool with Croatia, Czech Republic and Scotland all to come in the first round.
The Czechs got the better of England during Euros qualifying in October 2019, while the Three Lions have more recently shown vulnerabilities in losses to Denmark and Belgium in the last six months.
While England’s squad may be in a better position than the likes of Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Spain, France and Belgium still look to be the biggest threat.
England’s group is not the easiest, but if they come through it with unscathed by injury scares, they will fancy themselves to go deep in the tournament.
Croatia the Main Threat in Group D
England will be out for revenge this summer when they try to beat Croatia, three years after losing to them at the World Cup.
The Three Lions have the added bonus of home advantage as they will host all of their group games at Wembley.
Because of that, they are
10/27 to win Group D, and it is hard to see the likes of the Czech Republic and Scotland posing a significant threat.
While the Czechs did win two years ago in Prague, they could struggle to repeat that feat on the big stage. The Auld Enemy will view the game as a free-hit, but England know that topping the group gives them another short trip to look forward to and will be out to avoid any slip-ups.
Their last-16 tie would be in Dublin against Group F’s runners-up so Southgate’s men cannot afford to take the foot off the gas during their first three matches.
Kane to Lead by Example
Southgate has several selection headaches to deal with before the start of the tournament, but at least he can rest easy with Harry Kane still leading the way in the Premier League.
Captain Kane has 11 goals and as many assists in the top flight already and if he stays fit, he is guaranteed to start and will wear the armband with pride.
The Tottenham man is likely to be the favourite to finish the tournament as England’s top scorer and is undoubtedly the main man in that department. Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford may offer better value in any market. However, if he plays, it is often out wide, while the same can be said of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling.
If the spine of Southgate’s team can stay injury-free, then England will go into the Euros with a huge chance of victory. He will get the opportunity to work with his players in the build-up in a handful of friendlies and with Wembley waiting, there is no reason why England cannot progress into the latter stages.
*All odds correct at time of writing.