Euro 2020 begins on Friday, June 11th as Turkey face Italy in the opening match. There is much anticipation for the competition following its postponement last year.
24 nations enter Euro 2020 with the chance of becoming European champions. But there is plenty of challenging competition, with current champions Portugal, World Champions France, previous winners Spain, Germany and Italy all eager to lift the title again.
There are several challenging groups in the Euros this year. Group F sees Germany, France, Portugal and Hungary compete in the ‘group of death. A rule change in 2016 allowed four of six best performing third-placed teams to qualify, which could see France, Portugal and Germany enter the qualifying stages, with Hungary the outsiders in Group F.
Group D is another challenging group containing World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia, England, the Czech Republic and Scotland, playing in their first major tournament since 1998. Croatia and the Czech Republic have contributed to English heartbreak recently, with Croatia eliminating the Three Lions from the 2018 World Cup and the Czech Republic preventing England from qualifying for the 2008 Euros. Scotland will be eager to improve their major tournament record. They have never progressed past the group stages in the Euros or World Cup.
In Group A, Italy are the favourites to win. Turkey, Wales and Switzerland will provide stiff competition with Turkey and Wales particularly in good form. Turkey are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 internationals, while Wales are unbeaten in 15 of 17 matches.
World number ones Belgium should progress from Group B along with a strong Denmark side. They line up with Finland, making their first appearance in a major tournament and Russia, who reached the quarter-finals in their home tournament in 2018.
The Netherlands are the top-ranked team in Group C. They have been in poor form under Frank De Boer and will face newcomers North Macedonia, who recently beat Germany 3-2, Austria and Ukraine.
In Group E, a young Spanish side and a Robert Lewandowski led Poland are the favourites to progress against Sweden and Slovakia.
A host of world-class talent will take to the pitch throughout the Euros, and many players will be gunning for the Golden Boot award. England’s Harry Kane was the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup. Kane is the Premier League’s top scorer and has 34 goals in total for England. After scoring six goals in Russia three years ago, Kane will be looking to fire England into the latter stages and win another individual award.
Top-ranked side Belgium have several dangerous players that could see them win a first major international trophy this year. Man City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has scored 21 goals for his country and is central to his side’s creativity. De Bruyne’s teammate Romelu Lukaku has also been in excellent form for Inter Milan this season and has 59 goals in 91 matches for Belgium.
Portugal’s star man Cristiano Ronaldo can never be overlooked in a major tournament, despite the sensational forward turning 36 this year. Ronaldo helped Portugal to reach the Euro 2016 finals with three goals and assists in five matches. But he was stretchered off early on against France in the final. He is Serie A’s top scorer this season and has been in excellent form for Juventus in the latter stages this season.
Outsiders Poland will rely heavily on their all-time top scorer and captain Robert Lewandowski in Euro 2020 if they are to progress. Lewandowski will have huge pressure on his shoulders as the Bayern Munich striker has scored 63 goals in 116 matches for his country.
France have an extremely talented squad as they look to win their second consecutive major tournament. 22-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé announced himself on the world stage back in 2018, scoring four goals, aged just 19. The French starlet has gone from strength to strength for Paris St Germain since and has 16 goals in 42 matches for his national team. Euro 2016 golden boot winner Antoinne Griezmann is another key threat for France. The Barcelona striker scored six goals in 2016, helping France to reach the final in Paris.
England have great expectations heading into any major tournament. But with three group matches at Wembley and a mix of experienced and new talent, the Three Lions are considered one of the major favourites for Euro 2020. 2016 finalists France are joint-favourites to win the tournament. Didier Deschamps’ side have an excellent history in recent major competitions, and they will be looking to add to their World Cup 2018 victory.
The highest-ranked side in the tournament, Belgium, have one of their most talented squads ever. Following good runs in Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, Belgium will hope to go further this year and reach the finals.
Holders Portugal are also among the favourites. They were not always convincing in the qualifying stages for Euro 2020, but Portugal perform on the big stages, also winning the 2019 Nations League.
Spain are another talented side. They will rely on the blend of experience through Sergio Ramos and up and coming talent like Villarreal striker Gerrard Moreno.
Italy have also been impressive in recent internationals and are on a 25-match unbeaten run. Germany have been underwhelming in recent tournaments and have failed to win a major international competition since the 2014 World Cup. Long-serving manager Joachim Low will step down after Euro 2020, and his side will want to give the legendary manager a fitting send-off.
Since reaching the World Cup final in 2018, Croatia’s have been inconsistent, but they are also in the mix to repeat their heroics of 2018 with Luka Modric key to their success.