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Lost & Won: England v Czech Republic

England take on the Czech Republic at Wembley in their first qualifier for Euro 2020 on Friday.

The two sides meet at a time when they are at differing ends of the international landscape.

England, of course, reached the semi-finals of the World Cup last summer, for the first time since 1990. The Czech Republic failed to qualify, finishing behind both Germany and Northern Ireland in qualification Group C.

They do have a hefty international pedigree, however, finishing second at Euro 1996 and reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2004, though those finishes have been the zenith of their run as an international team.

Friday’s encounter, then, promises to be an intriguing one. Football FanCast takes a look at where it could be won and lost…

The key battle – Kaderabek vs Sancho

Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund v Hertha BSC

Jadon Sancho has been in electric form since his move to Borussia Dortmund. This season, he has scored eight goals in 26 Bundesliga appearances, while also laying on 15 assists.

He will come up against another Bundesliga star in Pavel Kaderabek at right-back. The Hoffenheim defender has been in excellent form this season, with his side currently ninth in the German top-flight.

Sancho will know his Czech counterpart well; they both scored when Dortmund and Hoffenheim played out a 3-3 draw earlier this season.

If the 18-year-old can find a way past Kaderabek consistently on Friday, England will have a trusted route to goal and that could well prove decisive.

The deciding factor – England’s defence

Can England maintain focus throughout the 90 minutes?

The Three Lions have kept one clean sheet since the World Cup, in a 0-0 UEFA Nations League draw with Croatia.

Even a thumping win over Spain, in which England took a 3-0 lead, saw the concession of two goals to La Roja.

If Southgate’s side, who also kept just one clean sheet in Russia, in the 2-0 quarter-final stroll against Sweden, can stop their backline from leaking, they should have enough up front to fire their way past the Czechs.

But that is no guarantee; England also conceded to Panama at the tournament. Yes, they were 6-0 up at the time, but it is a very real concern. The Three Lions simply have to stay tight at the back.

The impact subs – Callum Hudson-Odoi vs Matej Vydra

Burnley's Matej Vydra out-muscled by West Ham's Declan Rice

Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to usurp Raheem Sterling in the starting line-up but he has the ability to make a genuine impact off the bench.

His skilful dribbling and precision in the pass means he can hurt pretty much any team and he is primed for a go at international level.

He has worked his way into the Chelsea team and scored four goals in all competitions this season – he could make his international debut here and may well be the saviour if Southgate’s men need one.

As for the Czech Republic, Burnley striker Vydra is likely to be on the bench, with Patrick Schick set to start up front. He has scored just two goals all season and has not netted for his country since 2016.

The time for him to start scoring, then, is now.

Article title: Lost & Won: England v Czech Republic

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