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Euro 2020 – Group stage preview

Euro 2020

The Euro 2020 draw is confirmed and we’re a step closer to knowing who will play who next summer.

Unlike previous incarnations of the European Championships, Euro 2020 won’t have a single host nation but will be played in 12 host cities across the continent. Additionally, the number of nations competing is growing from 16 to 24.

The multi-host format has paved the way for an interesting seeding system in which each of the host nations are automatically placed into a designated group should they qualify.

With the line up of the six groups almost determined over the weekend, all that remains is for 16 playoff qualifiers teams to do battle for the four remaining spots.

Each playoff route consists of four teams who will play semi-finals and a final. The playoff routes are as follows.

 

Path A – Iceland vs. Romania, Bulgaria vs. Hungary

Path B – Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Northern Ireland, Slovakia vs. Republic of Ireland

Path C – Scotland vs. Israel, Norway vs. Serbia

Path D – Georgia vs. Belarus, North Macedonia vs. Kosovo

 

The four winners will slot into the following six groups. To complicate matters, if Romania qualify they will go into Group C rather than Group F, due to Bucharest being a host city. In that instance, they will swap places with the Path D winners who will go into Group F instead. Simple, huh?

The top two in each group will qualify alongside the four best third placed teams. Here are the groups along with our verdicts.

 

Euro 2020 Group A (Rome and Baku)

Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland

Difficulty Rating ***

The first group has the potential to be very tasty indeed. All four sides are within the top 30 in the world ranking with Switzerland and Italy in the top 15. The Italians will consider themselves among the tournament favourites whilst Wales have world class quality in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Turkey and Switzerland are strong sides and either could nick second place but I’m going to opt for the spirit of the Welsh.

 

Verdict

1st Italy

2nd Wales

3rd Turkey

4th Switzerland

 

Euro 2020 Group B (Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen)

Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia

Difficulty Rating **

Belgium are the clear favourites for this one and the real question is over second place. Finland aren’t anything special so should prop up the table, leaving Denmark and Russia to battle it out for the runners up position. Russia reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup but that was largely down to home advantage. Their head to head fixture will be played in Copenhagen which gives Denmark the edge in my opinion.

 

Verdict

1st Belgium

2nd Denmark

3rd Russia

4th Finland

 

Euro 2020 Group C (Amsterdam and Bucharest)

Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, Playoff Winner D

Difficulty Rating **

None of the participants of Path D will strike fear into the hearts of Netherlands, Ukraine or Austria. Like Italy, Netherlands have undergone a huge revival in the last couple of years and now possess an exciting, young core who will get better and better. Either Austria or Ukraine could feasibly claim second place but I’m marginally favouring the Austrians.

 

Verdict

1st Netherlands

2nd Austria

3rd Ukraine

4th Playoff Winner D

 

Euro 2020 Group D (London and Glasgow)

England, Croatia, Playoff Winner C, Czech Republic

Difficulty Rating ****

Provisionally a three star group of death, although boosted to four stars under the assumption that Serbia will make up the numbers. However, Scotland qualifying would be entertaining. England will play all three group games at Wembley, giving them a huge advantage. Their ongoing rivalry with Croatia continues, with the Croats knocking England out of the World Cup semi-finals and England returning the favour in the Nations League. England have to be given the edge with home advantage but it will be very tough.

 

Verdict

1st England

2nd Croatia

3rd Playoff Winner C (If Serbia qualify)

4th Czech Republic

 

Euro 2020 Group E (Bilbao and Dublin)

Spain, Sweden, Poland, Playoff Winner B

Difficulty Rating – ***

Spain aren’t the force they were a decade ago and are still undergoing something of a transitional period. Moreover, their manager during qualifying, Robert Moreno, bid the squad a tearful farewell last week, having been informed that former manager Luis Enrique would be taking over again for the tournament having previously stepped down due to personal tragedy. With Robert Lewandowski arguably the best striker in the world at the moment, this group is prime for an upset.

 

Verdict

1st Poland

2nd Spain

3rd Sweden

4th Playoff Winner B

 

Euro 2020 Group F (Munich and Budapest)

Playoff Winner A*, Portugal, France, Germany

Difficulty Rating – *****

Ah, here it is. The Group of death. The current world champions (France), take on the UEFA Nations League champions (Portugal) as well as the winners of four World Cups and three European Championships who have home advantage (Germany). Added to the mix are the desperately unlucky winners of Playoff Route A, who can be immediately written off as fodder for the big boys.

The Germans will be determined to make up for their wretched World Cup campaign and, with home advantage, I reckon they’ll win the group. It’s tough to write off Cristiano Ronaldo but France have probably the most talented squad in the tournament so they’ll finish second.

 

Verdict

1st Germany

2nd France

3rd Portugal

4th Playoff Winner A

 

Euro 2020 Group Stage Fixtures

 

Friday 12 June
Group A: Turkey v Italy (21:00, Rome)

Saturday 13 June
Group A: Wales v Switzerland (15:00, Baku)
Group B: Denmark v Finland (18:00, Copenhagen)
Group B: Belgium v Russia (21:00, St Petersburg)

Sunday 14 June
Group D: England v Croatia (15:00, Wembley)
Group C: Austria v Play-off winner D or A (18:00, Bucharest)
Group C: Netherlands v Ukraine (21:00, Amsterdam)

Monday 15 June
Group D: Play-off winner C v Czech Republic (15:00, Glasgow)
Group E: Poland v Play-off winner B (18:00, Dublin)
Group E: Spain v Sweden (21:00, Bilbao)

Tuesday 16 June
Group F: Play-off winner A or D v Portugal (18:00, Budapest)
Group F: France v Germany (21:00, Munich)

Wednesday 17 June
Group B: Finland v Russia (15:00, St Petersburg)
Group A: Turkey v Wales (18:00, Baku)
Group A: Italy v Switzerland (21:00, Rome)

Thursday 18 June
Group C: Ukraine v Play-off winner D or A (15:00, Bucharest)
Group B: Denmark v Belgium (18:00, Copenhagen)
Group C: Netherlands v Austria (21:00, Amsterdam)

Friday 19 June
Group E: Sweden v Play-off winner B (15:00, Dublin)
Group D: Croatia v Czech Republic (18:00, Glasgow)
Group D: England v Play-off winner C (21:00, London)

Saturday 20 June
Group F: Play-off winner A or D v France (15:00, Budapest)
Group F: Portugal v Germany (18:00, Munich)
Group E: Spain v Poland (21:00, Bilbao)

Sunday 21 June
Group A: Italy v Wales (18:00, Rome)
Group A: Switzerland v Turkey (18:00, Baku)

Monday 22 June
Group C: Play-off winner D or A v Netherlands (18:00, Amsterdam)
Group C: Ukraine v Austria (18:00, Bucharest)
Group B: Russia v Denmark (21:00, Copenhagen)
Group B: Finland v Belgium (21:00, St Petersburg)

Tuesday 23 June
Group D: Czech Republic v England (21:00, London)
Group D: Croatia v Play-off winner C (21:00, Glasgow)

Wednesday 24 June
Group E: Play-off winner B v Spain (18:00, Bilbao)
Group E: Sweden v Poland (18:00, Dublin)
Group F: Germany v Play-off winner A or D (21:00, Munich)
Group F: Portugal v France (21:00, Budapest)

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