England will look to get their Euro 2020 campaign off to the best possible start with victory over Croatia at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
As the Three Lions face the nation that eliminated them in the World Cup semi-final in Russia three years ago, we take a look at the reasons why Gareth Southgate will feel that his squad are stronger now than in 2018.
Creativity in abundance
England‘s memorable run to the semi-final in Russia masked over the fact that the side had clear creative deficiencies throughout the tournament.
Goals from set pieces were crucial in key group-stage victories over Tunisia and Sweden, with England then triumphing in the last 16 against Colombia after a penalty shoot-out before the side came unstuck against Luka Modric’s genius in the semi-final.
However, this time around it is a different story. Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish are three of the most creative players at the tournament and will be looking to play a pivotal role at the European Championship.
A deeper squad
England lined up against Croatia in Moscow three years ago with the likes of Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and Danny Welbeck on the bench.
Fast forward three years and England’s options off the bench have been upgraded significantly, with the likes of Ben White, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all set to be kept in reserve at Wembley.
This increased squad depth will give Southgate the chance to turn a game in an instant and keep the side fresh, should England progress into the latter stages of the competition.
A squad full of experience
One of the reasons that England did not go all the way in Russia was because the side did not contain the necessary experience of navigating the key matches and lifting trophies.
This England squad is not lacking in this regard, as Jordan Henderson has lifted the Champions League and the Premier League in the years since, not to mention the six other squad members who featured in the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.
This experience will be vital as England look to make it an unforgettable summer.