Scotland come into this match as clear favorites. Many had written off Scotland as, traditionally speaking, they haven’t been a glamorous team to watch. However the team expected to play tomorrow should excite neutrals as much as the Scottish faithful.
Scotland will play a very versatile system that will shift between a back five and back four . In possession, expect Hendry and Hanley to move central, into the left and right half-spaces, with McTominay dropping between them to form a pseudo-back three. Robertson and O’Donnell will provide width, with Robertson’s starting position being similar to that of a left winger. Robertson’s starting position will allow for overlapping runs from Tierney where both players can dominate the left side.
Expect most of the chances from Scotland to come from the left, as McGinn and McGregor will rarely be asked to create chances centrally. Dykes will lead the line as a more traditional target man, looking to win headers while Adams is well equipped to win the second balls or run into the spaces between the Czech players. Billy Gilmour of Chelsea is expected to miss this game and will be missed.
As for Czech Republic, they’re expected lineup is as pictured above. Schick will look to target the right half-space left vacant by the advanced Tierney and Robertson, while Soucek can be expected to join the attack in the form of the late runs into the penalty area that he has become famous for at West Ham. Coufal will be expected to play in a very advanced role providing width on the right side, while Masopust will primarily be found in the right half-space. Scotland will look to attack through the overloads created by Tierney and Robertson, while Czech Republic will be expected to counter this by attacking the spaces left behind them
Poland are rightful underdogs in this tournament. We know that Lewandowski will lead the line and do well, but his supporting cast deserve plenty of credit. Zielinksi of Napoli and Klich of Leeds are expected to play in more advanced roles in the left and right half-spaces, similar to the role of inside forwards. Klich will be used slightly differently. He will be expected to shuttle between the middle third and final third with an emphasis on linking play to his more creative teammate Zielinksi.
The remainder of the team is quite workman-like, with Krychowiak expected to play as a more traditional number six player, breaking up play and recycling play, while Moder will be tasked with playing a more box to box role. Width will come from the wingbacks, mainly Jozwiak, as Puchacz seldom leaves his starting position. The backline is rather inexperienced at the highest level. Glik is past his best while Bednarek is currently playing to the best of his abilities at Southampton. Creativity is scarce in this team with the forward players expected to carry most of the load, but Group E presents Poland a challenge that is more than beatable.
Slovakia brings little to the table tactically. They will conservatively as they have little to offer going forward. The lineup above is the one expected to play. Hamsik, while a legend in his own right, is likely past his best physically, so this Slovakian team is packed with players who will do the running for him. With that said, they’re not just a team of runners.
Heraslin will start as a more traditional winger on the right with licence to cut inside while the right fullback Pekarik is expected to overlap on the right. Duda will likely be used to win aerial duels while his surrounding teammates win the second balls. With that said, Slovakia should not be considered a strong threat to anyone in Group E, not just Poland.
This is quite likely the biggest match of the day as Spain look to break in a new generation of talented young players against a Swedish side with just as much talent themselves. Spain will line up in a 4-3-3 with a few modifications. Alba will be expected to take an advanced role when in possession, as the remaining backline shifts into a back three with Azpilicueta moving from a right fullback position, to right centre-back.
Rodri will be at the base of the midfield three, similar to how he plays for Manchester City, while Llorente will drop beside him in the right half-space during the build up phases. Pedri will start in the left half-space with permission to take a more central role if given the space to play between the midfield and defensive lines.
As Alba will be providing the width from the left as an overlapping fullback, Ferran Torres will tuck inside and act as a second striker or inside forward to partner Morata. Morata will be expected to drop deeper, mostly between the midfield and defensive lines, to help move the ball from the middle third to the final third, while Moreno will be tasked with keeping the width on the right hand side.
Sweden are a much more exciting team to watch than their 2018 World Cup side, while also maintaining their very rigid defensive structure. Sweden will play a 4-4-2 and look to beat Spain in the transitional phases. Players like Larsson and Forsberg have had tremendous seasons with their clubs and will likely target the space left behind the advanced Alba.
Berg will be expected to play more centrally and help with link up play during larger spells of possession, while Isak runs in between the right and left half-spaces as they’ll be vulnerable to attacks as Spain transition from attack to defense. Olsson and Ekdal will be the unsung heroes of this game should Sweden get a favorable result. Both players will target Rodri and Llorente during the Spanish build up phases and force the transitions that can be costly to Spain.
I’m a Canadian soccer/football coach and analyst with a bias towards Manchester City. Follow me on twitter for more football content @CamH___