Going into every football match, surely every football manager, player and fan would want to win, right? But going into this game with the Czech Republic, England sit second in the group with 4 points only behind the Czechs on goal difference and for many if England were to finish second it would lead to a much more favourable draw in the knockout rounds.
If the Three Lions beat the Czech Republic tonight it would mean that in the last 16 they would face the second place team in the so called ‘Group of Death’ in which has France, Germany and Portugal. With the former being the current world champions and the two latter countries having caused England major tournament heartbreak on many occasions it is easy to see why it might be better to try and avoid them.
To do this England maybe better off drawing tonight’s game as that would leave them in second place and have them play Group E’s runners up, a group which consists of Sweden, Slovakia, Spain, and Poland. There is obviously still risk to this strategy and most likely the players on the pitch will want to prove themselves to Gareth Southgate to secure a starting place in the knockout rounds.
However, this position is not too dissimilar to that of the last group game in the 2018 World Cup when England faced Belgium in a match which would decide the group winners. In that one Southgate played a much-rotated side as the Three Lions were narrowly beaten by a goal to nil, but due to that defeat England had more favourable draws in the latter rounds facing Columbia, Sweden and then Croatia.
So, Southgate could employ the same tactic tonight in hope that its leads to favourable draws however if England are going to bring football home, they will have to face a world class side at some point and should not be relying on the luck of the draw to take them deep into the tournament.