Match Review: the Czech Republic vs England Match
Results from the other groups ensured England were through to the knockout stages before playing the game against the Czech Republic. Wembley stadium saw the ‘Three Lions’ take on surprising contenders from the group, Czech Republic. Raheem Sterling’s first-half header saw the game end 1-0 for England, but arguably, there could have been more goals in the game. The last time the Czechs played a major tournament game at Wembley Stadium was the Euro 1996 final. They headed into the game being the group leaders with the Englishmen at second place.
England’s XI to face The Czech Republic
First choice midfielder Mason Mount and left back Ben Chilwell were absent from the 23-man matchday squad. They were isolating because they met their Chelsea teammate Billy Gilmour who tested positive for Covid-19. Mason Mount’s absence allowed Southgate to play Aston Villa Starman Jack Grealish as the Centre Attacking Midfielder (CAM). Despite Phil Foden not being in the matchday squad, Southgate chose Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka instead of Jadon Sancho for the RM position.
Jack Grealish in action against The Czech Republic
Grealish and Saka, both with their first starts of the Euro 2020 campaign were unstoppable in the game. Grealish’s ability to keep the ball close to his feet while dribbling towards defenders was clearly on show. He drew many fouls for his team allowing the Englishmen to put pressure on the Czech Republic using set-pieces. Bukayo Saka was a constant threat to Czech Republic’s backline, especially left-back Jan Boril. His pace and ability to change direction helped him get the better of Boril throughout the game and earned him the ‘Man of the Match for his performance.
Southgate was harshly criticised for England’s lack of creativity in the final third in the first two matches. English fans wanted to know why Grealish hadn’t played enough in the tournament. Grealish did justice to Southgate’s team selection as he crossed the ball from the left wing assisting Raheem Sterling with the only goal of the game. Sterling’s header made it two goals from 3 games in the tournament as England top their group heading into the round of 16.
Sterling with the header that sealed the game for the ‘Three Lions’
English fans thought Jordan Henderson, who came off the bench had made it 2-0 in the second half. He received the ball in front of the goal and took a shot that deflected into the back of the net. The celebrations were cut short as the linesman had raised his flag for offside. 17-year-old Jude Bellingham tackled the ball as it landed near Jordan Henderson but he was in an offside position. VAR agreed with the linesman’s decision and to the surprise of English fans, it was not overturned.
The Czechs had many goal-scoring chances in the game but not enough to earn them 3 points. Tomas Holes took a thunderous long range shot in the first which was matched by Jordan Pickford’s diving save on his right side. The Czech Republic started the game at the top of the group but their loss and Croatia’s win over Scotland put them at 3rd place at the end of the group stage. Their journey in the tournament is yet to be decided as a 3rd place finish might be enough to put them through to the next round.
England faces a tough draw for their round of 16. They will play against the runner-up from Group F. That means their knockout round would begin with a tough test against Portugal, Germany or France. Irrespective of the upcoming heavyweight fixtures, English fans are convinced 2021 is their year and football is coming home. But is it really, we will have to wait to find out?
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