Former Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho and Liverpool legend Graeme Souness have both backed England to defeat Croatia in their Euro 2020 opener.
Mourinho told The Times: ‘England have never won their opening game in the Euros but I am expecting them to beat Croatia today.
‘Of course it is not an easy match, but if they can counter Croatia’s strength in midfield then I believe England can break that negative history.’
The former Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss added: ‘If you allow Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric to have the ball, they can hide it from you.
‘I am not saying they will kill you, because Croatia don’t have top attackers, but they can certainly disturb you if you let them dominate. You need a strong midfield to compete.
‘Croatia are not what they were at the 2018 World Cup. They lost Ivan Rakitic, they lost Mario Mandzukic. They aren’t very strong in defence.
‘They have spirit, but England have more options. Rashford and Sterling can come on to attack space, and to kill opponents who are tired or on yellow cards.
‘Or you can introduce Sancho, to break defensive walls if you need, or Bellingham, who is much more offensive than Phillips and has that old profile of the box-to-box midfielder.’
Souness, meanwhile, said: ‘England should not have any fears going into today’s game. They will have too much in most areas for Croatia and I expect them to win comfortably, by a couple of goals.
‘Dejan Lovren is no longer at Liverpool for a reason. Mateo Kovacic is a squad player at Chelsea and was not playing towards the end of the season when they were going for trophies, so the supporting cast to Modric is not as strong as it was three years ago.
‘There will be tougher tests ahead for England. I expect them to win today and make it out of the group without too much trouble.’
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