England v Croatia betting tips: Three Lions favoured for opening win
England begin their quest for European Championship glory on home soil on Sunday against very familiar foes.
Croatia quashed Gareth Southgate’s side’s World Cup dreams with a semi-final win in Russia in 2018 to scupper England’s long wait for tournament success.
Three years on, England are participating in the delayed Euros – which they could play exclusively at Wembley – as 6/1 second favourites and, with an exciting young squad, will believe this could finally be their year.
The World Cup runners-up will provide a testing start as we look at some of the odds in our England v Croatia betting tips.
Croatia have been a thorn in England’s side since two qualifying wins prevented Steve McClaren’s team from reaching Euro 2008.
The 2-1 extra-time win in Moscow, after Kieran Trippier had given England the lead, was another damaging blow and the Croats are 24/5 to repeat that win in the Group D opener.
But, England recovered with a draw and a win over Croatia to reach the inaugural Nations League semi-finals and, despite Luka Modric’s continued brilliance, Croatia are not the side they were three years ago.
They lost to Hungary and Wales in qualifying and were well beaten by France and Portugal in last year’s Nations League. England are understandably firm favourites to win at 8/13.
Croatia shipped 16 goals during that Nations League campaign, while England notched an impressive 37 goals in qualifying for the European Championship. An England win with over 3.5 goals is available at 9/2.
Southgate enjoyed World Cup success by playing with a back three, deploying Kyle Walker as a right centre-back.
Since Russia though he has largely moved away from that system, perhaps as a way of getting as many of his emerging attacking talents into the side as possible. But that remains a real headache.
England fans will want to see exciting talents in the team like Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish, players who have burst onto the scene.
But with Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane also competing for those spots, Southgate faces a conundrum and he is likely to be without key defender Harry Maguire who has only just returned to training after sustaining an ankle ligament injury over a month ago.
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has had to reinvent the team, with World Cup heroes Mario Mandzukic, Daniel Subasic and Ivan Rakitic all having retired.
Modric is more important than ever even at 35. He and Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic control their midfield, with Mario Pasalic and Nikola Vlasic charged with delivering creativity.
Kane went to Euro 2016 as a blossoming 22-year-old striker, but failed to score in four matches during England’s embarrassing campaign. Kane taking corners was the lasting impression from the nightmare in France.
Two years on and it was a different story as the prolific Tottenham striker won the World Cup’s golden boot with six goals. Ahead of the opening game, Kane is 5/1 to claim another golden boot, 5/2 to break the deadlock and 13/10 to score any time.
Aside from Kane, Mount has scored four goals in 16 England appearances as well as netting nine times for Chelsea this season.
Dinamo Zagreb striker Bruno Petkovic has stepped up to fill Mandzukic’s boots, scoring four goals in qualifying, and is 9/1 and 9/2 to score first or any time. AC Milan’s Ante Rebic has also found form, with 10 goals in the final 15 Serie A games of the season and he is 11/1 and 11/2 in the two markets.
Where: Wembley Stadium
When: 14:00, Sunday 13th June
How to watch: BBC 1
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication