With England on the cusp of making it to Euro 2020, are you ready to hope all over again?
From Friday 11 October, 7pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113)
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming… Euro 2020 qualification is coming home! It’s not quite as catchy as the original (and probably in danger of infringing a copyright or two), but it’s certainly an accurate reflection of the situation the Three Lions currently find themselves in.
England need just one more win to confirm their place in next summer’s tournament, and they’ve got plenty of time to find it. Gareth Southgate’s boys have so far taken a piledriver to a weak group that includes Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo; winning their first four games and scoring 19 goals. They’ve conceded just four, and three of those were in the 5-3 win over Kosovo in September.
Victory over either Czech Republic on 11 October or Bulgaria three days later will guarantee England’s spot in the showpiece, with two games still to play in November. The odds are good – England hammered Czech Republic 5-0 when they met in the opening qualifying group game and thrashed Bulgaria 4-0 in September. Southgate will feel confident of progressing with several games to spare.
Ahead of the games, we’ve looked at all of the big questions that need answering as the Three Lions look to continue their incredible streak in qualifying games.
When did England last lose a qualifying game?
Ten years ago! Yes, you really did read that right. The last time England lost a qualifier was in October 2009 under Fabio Capello, when they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Ukraine. It was a game in which Rob Green was sent off after 13 minutes and where the likes of Glen Johnson, Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole were still in the team. The Three Lions have since been unbeaten, in a whopping 43 qualifiers!
What’s England’s record against Czech Republic?
Good, although they’ve only met three times, and the 5-0 win in March was the first competitive fixtures between the two sides. England won the first 2-0 in a 1998 friendly, with goals from Darren Anderton and Paul Merson, and drew 2-2 in another friendly a decade later.
What about against Bulgaria?
England have never lost to Bulgaria either, and they have a slightly more extensive history. Their first meeting was a 0-0 draw at the 1962 World Cup, but since then the Three Lions have won seven of ten, with three draws.
Where are the games being played?
Both games are away from home. England will travel to Prague to face Czech Republic at Slavia Prague’s 21,000-seater Sinobo Stadium, before jetting over to Bulgaria to play in front of 44,000 at the Vasil Levski stadium in Sofia.
Who is England’s top scorer in qualifying so far?
It’s a tie! Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling both have six from the opening four games. Israel’s Eran Zahavi leads the overall table with nine.
Who scored in the goalfests against Czech Republic and Bulgaria earlier in the group?
Sterling bagged a hat-trick against Czech Republic – he’s been brilliant this qualifying campaign, without doubt displaying his best-ever form in an England shirt. Kane also scored, and an own goal from Tomáš Kalas rounded it off. Against Bulgaria it was the opposite – Kane got the hat-trick (including two penalties) while Sterling added another. Dream team!
What should I expect from these games?
More of the same from the Three Lions! Southgate’s men are showing no signs of slowing down, and he won’t pick a weakened side for the Czech Republic game despite already having a foot in the tournament proper. Jadon Sancho may get another chance to start after a brilliant two-goal display against Kosovo, while the likes of Chelsea pair Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount will fancy their chances of converting their impressive starts in front of goal in the Premier League into maiden international goals.
This week’s live England Euro 2020 qualifiers
England v Czech Republic
Friday 11 October, 7pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113)
England v Bulgaria
Monday 14 October, 7pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113)
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