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Bucharest: England manager Gareth Southgate waved away suggestions Croatia will be afraid of playing his team at Wembley in their opening game at Euro 2020 after they came out in the same group at the draw in Bucharest.
The teams will face off on June 14 in Group D in what is likely to be a pivotal game in determining who tops the section, which will also include the Czech Republic and a play-off winner. Southgate was told Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic feared the prospect of going to Wembley right at the beginning of the tournament, with London one of 12 European cities chosen to host matches.
“I think he’s been tactically economical with the truth there,” was Southgate’s response. England beat Croatia 2-1 at home last year in the Nations League, having drawn 0-0 away. However, the most significant recent meeting of the nations came in the 2018 World Cup semi-final in Moscow, when Croatia won 2-1 in extra time.
England’s second game will be on June 19 against a team to emerge from the play-offs next March, either Norway, Serbia, Israel or Scotland.
They will then have a final home group game against another familiar opponent in the Czechs, whom they trounced 5-0 at Wembley in qualifying but lost to 2-1 in Prague. “They are two teams who we have had really good results against and also poor results, so it is not a group we can be complacent about,” Southgate added. (AFP)