FOOTBALL

England and Wales step up Euro 2020 preparations

England and Wales have both organised friendly matches ahead of the start of their Euro 2020 campaigns.

The Three Lions will host Italy at Wembley in March, with the date set to be decided.

Gareth Southgate’s charges drew 1-1 with Italy last year, with Jamie Vardy on target that day. The Leicester front man has since retired from international football.

Wales will play Austria around a week after as they prepare for their second-ever European Championships, they played Austria in the last World Cup qualifying campaign.

England are one of the favourites for the tournament and host three group games, Wales, meanwhile, got to the semi-finals in 2016.

Euro 2020 outright winner odds: Courtesy of oddschecker

Wales manager Ryan Giggs

Wales’ first two matches will be played in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, where the Europa League Final between Arsenal and Chelsea earlier this year.

There they play Switzerland on June 13, before Turkey on the 17th.

Four days later it’s the big test, Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in the last group stage game.

Wales started the last Euro group stage with a dramatic late win against Slovakia.

Hal Robson-Kanu popped up in the late stages of that match to score a scruffy winner and the striker has been on fire for West Brom this season, scoring six in his last nine games.

Robson-Kanu, 30, retired from international football in 2017.

Gareth Southgate believes England have earned their tag as a favourite for the tournament, after their surprise run to the semi-final in Russia last year.

“I think we’ve gained some respect and I think people would view us as a threat, which certainly wasn’t the case ahead of Russia,” he told BBC Sport.

“We also know we have got to improve to another level. It’s hard to assess exactly where we are after this qualifying campaign, but if we looked at the World Cup semi and the Nations League semi, we’ve done all we could in terms of qualifying with the most goals in Europe, so we are on a good track.

England won all but one of their eight qualifying matches, scoring 37 goals as they cruised through another campaign.

“The difference on one day between any of the top 10 teams is so marginal in football.

England could play Scotland at Wembley should Steve Clarke’s men progress in their play-off semi and final in March next year.

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