Czech Republic v England: Grealish to get the green light

Paul Higham says Jack Grealish will get the chance to shine and will respond with an assist to help England beat the Czech Republic on Tuesday night...

England expects after Scotland draw

England have gone from world beaters to hopeless also-rans in the space of one game, that's if you read some of the tabloids or listen to the angry radio phone-ins and social media 'experts'. The truth is, obviously, always somewhere in between but Gareth Southgate would like to have been heading into this game with a much better mood around the nation.

Those of us who have watched these major tournaments down the years will know that it's all about getting through the group stages and going from there, and it's job just about done in that regard, but that 0-0 with Scotland has dented national confidence.

England managed Croatia well, but didn't quite match the tempo of the Scots, and now it's a tricky spot for Southgate as they face the surprise group leaders with a draw being more than suitable for both sides.

So does he play it safe again and just get through unscathed, or look to put on a show and restore national pride?

Then there's the last-16 draw, as much as personally I don't think it matters, a win over the Czechs and England will play Germany most likely, or possibly Portugal, while a draw pits them currently against Slovakia as it stands, or a toothless Spain if they can find a way through.

One thing Southgate has shown, is that he's his own man, and he'll no doubt make changes here and get some game time for the likes of Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho - who bizarrely hasn't played a minute yet! Possibly Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson too.

Could he even take Harry Kane, who has scored just twice in his last 11 internationals, out of the firing line and go for Dominic Calvert-Lewin's energy and athleticism? Progression is the name of the game, but the situation now demands a performance.

Unbeaten Czechs surprise by topping group

The Czechs did beat England at home in qualifying, but were hammered 5-0 at Wembley - where they've conceded nine goals in their three games against the hosts (D1 L2) while netting just twice.

In Patrick Schick though, they have the Euro 2020 top scorer after two rounds, with possibly the goal of the tournament included in his three goals that take his tally to 14 in 28 internationals. He's scored first in both games and at a whopping 12.0 to do so again he'll be a popular bet here.

A draw would see Jaroslav Silhavy's side top the group - which would be a surprise result but nothing new for them as they've done so twice in four previous Euros. It would also deny England a last-16 game at Wembley.

The Czechs dealt with Scotland on the break, and controlled Croatia pretty well, so they won't be fazed by a trip to Wembley.

England should be stronger even with changes, but needing just a draw plays right into Silhavy's side's hands, and they'll fancy getting at least the point they need.

Will England come out firing or play it safe?

England have a mixed recent record in their final group games at the Euros, going W4 D1 L3 since 1980, but there have been 14 goals in the last four meetings between these two and England fans would love to see more goals here.

History suggests that's a tough ask - for starters, England have been 0-0 at half time in both games so far, as they have in their last two final group games at previous Euros. That's a theme that runs throughout the final group games at the Euros, with 47 of 68 from 1980 onwards producing under 1.5 goals in the first half.

If the Czechs are to make a first-half breakthrough, in-play bettors might like to know that they've scored after the half-hour mark in the last four games they've won or drawn.

England's 0-0 against Scotland was their 17th in a major tournament and more than any other country, it's 8.5 if you fancy another and the Czechs will certainly be comfortable settling for that if there's been no goal heading into the latter stages.

It's easy to suggest England just need to go for it, but history tells us that's it's hard for players to push that extra few percent late on when they know deep down they don't really need to.

It's 3.6 for the draw that would have been nailed-on in years gone by, but it's a result that would bring England and Southgate more negative headlines than he'd like. This is where England's greater squad depth comes in, and is why they're big 1.57 favourites and the Czechs, who may also make changes, 7.5 outsiders.

Greater squad depth, plus greater need for a result, throwing in world-class players playing for their places should equal a home win.

England's 'second string' to star?


It's been a case where Grealish and Sancho have become even better players by not playing so far, but this represents a superb opportunity to show what they're made of. You can probably add in Jude Bellingham to that mix as well.

Southgate should field all three, knowing England will have plenty of the ball but have plenty of defensive bodies to get through.

Both Grealish at 4.0 and Sancho at 4.5 are worth a look for an anytime assist if they start given how creative the pair of them are, while if both of them play then it's also worth looking at the 4.5 for the Three Lions to score a penalty.

Mason Mount should keep his place, and if he plays then his shot totals will be interesting as he currently leads England with four shots and one on target in two games. His runs from deep should only be helped if Grealish is on the field.

Of course there's some guesswork involved, but whatever England team you put out, they should have enough, and Southgate will want a fast start. Although both games have been goalless at the break remember England have hit the post in both first halves and if they go in it's a different story.

They have a point to prove, and they're easily good enough to make it and go through to the knockouts with a renewed confidence.

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