England will take part in the first of two Euro 2020 warm-up friendlies when they welcome Austria to the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
Gareth Southgate’s side kick off their European Championship campaign against Croatia on June 13, but first will prepare for their latest tilt at silverware with games against Austria and Romania in the North-East.
One year later than planned, and now three years since their memorable run to the World Cup semi-final, England will enter this summer’s European Championship as one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
Home advantage in the latter stages – should they make it that far – and a gifted group of young players, many of whom have arguably benefitted from the postponement of the tournament, mean that there will be more expectation on England’s shoulders in this tournament compared to Russia 2018.
Southgate has just two games to run the rule over his squad before their opening fixture – a repeat of that World Cup semi-final against Croatia – with matches against Austria and Romania giving fringe payers one final chance to work his way into his plans.
England have enjoyed a flawless 2021 so far with three wins from their three World Cup qualifiers in March, seeing off San Marino, Albania and Poland by an aggregate score of 9-1.
The Three Lions will be heavily fancied to continue that winning run in this game, sitting as they do 19 places above Austria in the FIFA World Rankings.
Franco Foda’s side were on the wrong end of a 4-0 home defeat to Denmark in their last outing, but did hold England’s Group D opponents Scotland to a 2-2 draw in their opening World Cup qualifier.
Indeed, the loss to Denmark is their only defeat in their last nine outings, and they will be keen to bounce back ahead of their own Euro 2020 campaign getting underway on June 13 too.
Austria have only reached the European Championships twice before, including once as a host, and they are still waiting for their first ever win at the tournament having crashed out in the group stages with just one point to their name on their previous appearances.
Das Team have been drawn in Group C alongside North Macedonia, Netherlands and Ukraine, and will fancy their chances of finally ending their win drought and even of progressing through to the knockout stages.
A good showing against England would only raise the belief that they could make history and go further than ever before this summer, while Foda’s men will also face Slovakia before their tournament opener against North Macedonia.
England international friendlies form:
England form (all competitions):
Austria international friendlies form:
Austria form (all competitions):