An appetising World Cup semi-final replay serves as the tasty Group D opener at Euro 2020, with England taking on Croatia at Wembley Stadium on June 14.
There has been plenty of water under the bridge since that showdown in Russia, which Croatia won in extra time, but you can be sure that revenge will be on the minds of the England players who experienced such heartbreak on that famous night in Moscow.
Since then, both teams have evolved and some of the personnel have changed, but the old battle scars remain.
Both England and Croatia are expected to finish inside the top two of Group D, so this opening clash may not prove to be all that decisive even if one of the teams loses.
But who wants to lose their tournament opener? Nobody, of course, and so there will be plenty on the line in London – redemption and three points, perhaps.
Let’s a take a deep dive into the match with our England vs Croatia preview.
Home advantage is clearly going to be a factor in Euro 2020, and while not overwhelmingly the deciding factor playing in front of 80,000 of your own supporters is obviously a monumental advantage.
That’s why the Three Lions have been made a clear favourite by the bookies in their England vs Croatia betting odds at a price of 1.73.
Croatia, meanwhile, will be looking to make the most of their underdog tag once again at odds of 4.50, while the draw is available at 3.80.
2. England vs Croatia Predictions
England’s remarkable record at Wembley Stadium will be tested to its limits in this Euro 2020 encounter, with all involved desperate for revenge on their Croatian tormentors.
Gareth Southgate has formed an exciting young squad for the home team, and aside from a surprise defeat in the Czech Republic – a foe once more here in Group D, England swept all before them and scored a glut of goals in the process.
Indeed, nobody netted more than Harry Kane in qualifying, and he was ably supported by the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. With Dele Alli also rounding up into some decent form, these are exciting times for the Three Lions’ attacking play.
However, the old defensive vulnerabilities remain. England do not possess a world-class goalkeeper or any defenders of note, and the ease with which their opponents tend to cut through them has not gone unnoticed. It seems unlikely that any new stars will emerge prior to Euro 2020, either.
As for Croatia, they will pick largely from the pool of players that performed so well in the World Cup – barring one notable absentee. Mario Mandzukic, their striker who scored the winner against England in their 2018 encounter, has since retired from international football.
And the Croatians miss him, because while replacement Bruno Petkovic is certainly capable he does not possess the skills or the personality of Mandzukic.
There are still high-quality operators in their ranks, from Modric and Perisic to Kovacic and Rakitic, but the consensus for our England vs Croatia predictions is that England have kicked on from their World Cup nightmare, while the Croatians have regressed somewhat with the retirement of Mandzukic.
Factor in the Three Lions’ home advantage, and a strong case has been made.