ALEX CROOK

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

ALEX CROOK PREVIEW: England v Serbia

Star Sports football ambassador Alex Crook looks ahead to England’s opening match of EURO 2024 against Serbia on Sunday evening…


England kick off their quest for Euro 2024 glory against Serbia on Sunday as favourites to lift their first major trophy since 1966, writes ALEX CROOK.

Speaking to supporters of other nations here in Germany, there is widespread respect for Gareth Southgate’s star-studded team despite a poor run of friendly form heading into the tournament.

Without getting his hands on a trophy Harry Kane has smashed all records in his maiden season at Bayern Munich so the German natives are well aware of his predatory prowess, if they weren’t before.

Jude Bellingham is the name on every Spanish fans’ lips after lighting up La Liga with Real Madrid and that is before you even get onto the subject of Premier League Player of the Year Phil Foden.

There is arguably no nation among the 24 who can boast a more glorious array of attacking talent, yet nagging doubts remain in my mind about the make-up of the back four.

Luke Shaw, one of England’s standout performers as they reached the final three years ago, is unlikely to be fit for the first game which means Kieran Trippier will almost certainly play out of position at left-back while Harry Maguire’s absence means a new look at the heart of defence.

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There is also a debate about who partners Declan Rice in the midfield pivot and whether Foden starts on the left or in his preferred number 10 role.

I cannot recall going into a tournament with Southgate at the helm with so many unanswered questions and England were frankly terrible in their 1-0 defeat at home to Iceland last Friday night.

I’m all over the starsports.bet promotion of getting the best odds on any team other than England to go all the way and simply could not be backing the Three Lions at such a short price.

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Getting off to a winning start may not be plane-sailing against a Serbia team eager to make up for lost time at the first Euros in 24 years.

Having qualified ahead of Portugal for the last World Cup and then crashing out with a whimper in Qatar, the Serbs put together an unconvincing qualifying campaign to secure their place in Germany and their only wins in their last six competitive games have been against Lithuania and Montenegro.

But I still think it is dangerous for England to take their opponents in Gelsenkirchen lightly.

Yes, they are not great defensively but have threats going forward in the form of Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic, former Southampton winger Dusan Tadic and the force of nature that is Aleksander Mitrovic.

Ex-Fulham man Mitrovic in particular can prove a handful for a patched-up England defence so I will be backing England to win and Mitrovic to score at any time at 7.62/1 with starsports.bet.

The Three Lions hammered Iran 6-2 in their opening game in Qatar but I think this one will be much tighter. England to win 2-1 is available at 7/1 with starsports.bet.


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