Gareth Southgate’s England have made a very solid start to qualifying from their group in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. While all other teams in Group A have played five games, England sit atop the group having played four matches, and won them all. Indeed, should England claim victory in the two away games that they face this week, they could well become one of the first teams to confirm themselves as qualified as group winners for next summer’s expanded Euro 2020 tournament.
However standing in their way first of all is a tough away game against the Czech Republic in Prague and then three days after this, England will take to the field in Sofia to face a Bulgaria side that has yet to record a win in the group stages of this competition, but who are still a tricky team to face on home soil.
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Let’s now take a look at how things stand in Group A for England, as well as the squad Southgate announced for the two games this week. Table shows teams that have played five games, teams marked with an asterisk* have played four.
Euro 2020 Qualifiers Group A
- England* – 12 points
- Czech Rep – 9 points
- Kosovo – 8 points
- Montenegro – 2 points
- Bulgaria – 2 points
Two wins for England would give them 18 points and ensure that they finish top of Group A regardless of how they get on in their final two games.
England Results so far
- England 5-0 Czech Republic (Sterling 3, Kane, Kalas OG)
- Montenegro 1-5 England (Keane, Barkley 2, Kane, Sterling)
- England 4-0 Bulgaria (Kane 3, Sterling)
- England 5-3 Kosovo (Sterling, Kane, Vojvoda OG, Sancho 2)
Only France and Belgium can match the 19 goals scored by England in qualifying, although they have taken six games to score that number of goals, England scoring theirs in just four games.
- V Czech Republic (A) (11th Oct)
- V Bulgaria (A) (14th Oct)
- V Montenegro (H) (14th Nov)
- V Kosovo (A) (17th Nov)
England Squad for the Fixtures with Czech Republic and Bulgaria
- Jordan Pickford (Everton)
- Tom Heaton (Aston Villa)
- Nick Pope (Burnley)
- Danny Rose (Tottenham)
- Harry Maguire (Man Utd)
- Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
- Michael Keane (Everton)
- Ben Chilwell (Leicester(
- Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
- Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
- Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
- Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea)
- Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
- Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
- Declan Rice (West Ham)
- Harry Winks (Tottenham)
- Mason Mount (Chelsea)
- James Maddison (Leicester City)
- Fabian Delph* (Everton)
*Fabian Delph withdrew from the squad due to injury. No replacement has been named.
- Raheem Sterling (Man City)
- Harry Kane (Tottenham)
- Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
- Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)
- Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
- Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Probable Starting XI v Czech Republic
4-3-3 – Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Chilwell, Maguire, Keane, Rice, Henderson, Mount, Sterling, Kane, Sancho.
Czech Republic v England – Analysis
With England having beaten the Czech’s 5-0 in their group opener, it is easy to think that Gareth Southgate’s men should have a relatively easy time of it in Prague, but this is a Czech team that are not as bad as that result suggests, and who have proven it with a run of three victories in the group following that opening day loss, their only other defeat coming in a 2-1 away loss to Kosovo.
The teams have only met three times previously since the Czech Republiuc became a country, all in England and there have been two wins for England and a 2-2 draw in August 2008. When the country was part of Czechoslovakia, they did beat England twice at home, 2-1 in 1934 and by the same scoreline in the 1975 European Championships, which the Czech’s went on to win.
The Czech’s team has some talented youngsters in it including Red Bull Leipzig’s striker Patrick Schick, Hertha Berlin star and captain Vladimir Darida and Sampdoria midfield Jakub Jankto.
The Czech’s will put out a strong team but I feel they are not the match of England and while England won’t romp to another easy win here, I do feel England should run out winners on the day, most probably by a 2-1 or 3-1 scoreline.
Bulgaria v England – Analysis
Bulgaria have lost their last four games in a row heading into this set of games and before they face England, they have Montenegro away on the 11th October. This current set of Bulgarian players is a long way removed from the team that once reached the World Cup semifinals in USA 1994.
Players to watch for the team include midfielder Bozhidar Kraev and the two naturalised Brazilian stars Wanderson and Marcelinho, both of whom play for Ludogorets Razgrad. Their main attacking threat is captain Ivelin Popov who has 16 goals in 86 caps for his country.
Given their dismal form at the moment and the fact that England beat them comfortably 4-0 in a qualifier just last month, this is going to be a tough ask for Bulgaria to get anything from this game, even on home soil. They’ll be delighted to keep England from scoring for as long as possible and I fully expect them to play for a draw here.
This will be another tough game for England but just as in Prague, I still feel they are more than good enough to get the win here, probably by a 2-0 or even 3-0 scoreline.