This summer will see Finland compete at a first major tournament in their history.
The Huuhkajat, spearheaded by Teemu Pukki are on the up and in November recorded a 2-0 victory over reigning world champions France in Paris. They also notched away victories in Bulgaria and Iceland in the Nations League. They are hard to beat, with a packed five-man defence in front of Bayer Leverkusen’s shot stopper Lukas Hradecky.
Group B: FINLAND, Belgium, Denmark, Russia.
Manager: Markku Kanerva
Odds (PP): 250/1
Recent Tournaments: N/A
FIFA World Ranking: 54th
Teemu Pukki. The Norwich striker is just off the back of yet another prolific Championship season. His 26 goals have fired Norwich back up to the Premier League and he will be looking to continue his form at the Euros. His 10 goals in 10 games in helping Finland qualify show he can do it for both club and country.
Markku Kanvera has named a provisional 26-man squad, with five players arriving late to the squad after their respective club seasons finish, taking it up to 31. Following a week of training camp, it will then be cut back down to 26 by the deadline on June 1st.
The squad is not exactly littered with household names, but there are a few who will catch the eye of any European football gurus. Bayer Leverkusen’s Lukas Hradecky is one of the Bundesliga’s top keepers and is Finland’s next best player after Pukki. Bristol shot stopper Anssi Jaakkola travels as one of Hradacky’s understudies.
The defence features Daniel O’Shaughnessy, who’s father is from Galway, not exactly the most Finnish-sounding player in the squad. He can play both centre and left back. Glen Kamara is in midfield having helped Rangers secure a first title since 2011. Augsburg’s Fredrik Jensen is also in the squad. He was Iceland’s top scorer in the recent Nations League campaign.
Joining Pukki up front is Brentford’s Marcus Forss and Leverkusen’s Joel Pohjanpalo, who spent the season on loan at Union Berlin, netting six goals. Minnesota United winger Robin Lod will join up with the squad late and could start at the tournament. His teammate Jukka Raitala was also named in the squad.
Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky (Leverkusen), Niki Maenpaa (Venezia), Jesse Joronen (Brescia), Anssi Jaakkola (Bristol Rovers)
Defenders: Juhani Ojala (Vejle), Leo Väisänen (Elfsborg), Sauli Väisänent (Chievo), Paulus Arajuuri (Pafos), Albin Granlund (Stal Mielec), Daniel O’Shaughnessy (HJK), Jere Uronen (Genk), Nikolai Alho (MTK), Niko Hamalainen (Queens Park Rangers), Robert Ivanov (Warta Poznan), Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United), Joona Toivio (Hacken)
Midfielders: Tim Sparv (AEL), Rasmus Schuller (Djurgarden), Thomas Lam (Zwolle), Fredrik Jensen (Augsburg), Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg), Glen Kamara (Rangers), Joni Kauko (Esbjerg), Onni Valakari (Pafos), Robert Taylor (Brann)
Forwards: Robin Lod (Minnesota United), Teemu Pukki (Norwich City), Joel Pohjanpalo (Union Berlin), Lassi Lappalainen (Montréal), Marcus Forss (Brentford), Jasin Assehnoun (Lahti)