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Euro 2020 tournament preview and predictions

Following a three year hiatus since the last major international tournament, including a one year postponement due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Euro 2020 is finally here. The expanded European Championships will see 24 of Europe’s finest sides, including defending champions Portugal, battle it out over 51 games to be crowned champions of Europe. 11 is the lucky number, with the tournament beginning on the 11th June, finishing on the 11th July and taking place in 11 host cities across the continent. Three Colossus writers, Ed Acteson, Graham Ruthven and Harry De Cosemo, have put their heads together to create a bumper Euro 2020 tournament preview, including a detailed look at every participating nation, predictions and everything else you need to know.

 

 

Euro 2020 Tournament information

 

Format

Six groups of four teams will play a round robin format, with the top two in each group automatically qualifying for the last 16 of Euro 2020. The remaining four places will be taken by the best third place sides. From the last 16 onwards, it will be a standard knockout tournament up to and including the final. This year there will be no third place playoff for the losing semi-finalists.

 

Host Cities

In a departure from the usual format of a single host country, UEFA have selected 11 host cities across the continent to share Euro 2020, with the stadiums operating at reduced capacities. The cities are;

 

Amsterdam (Johan Cruyff Arena | 54,990)

Baku (Olympic Stadium | 68,700)

Bucharest (Arena Nationala | 55,600)

Budapest (Puskas Arena | 67,215)

Copenhagen (Parken Stadium | 38,065)

Glasgow (Hampden Park | 51,866)

London (Wembley Stadium | 90,000)

Munich (Allianz Arena | 70,000)

Rome (Stadio Olimpico | 70,634)

Saint Petersburg (Krestovky Stadium | 68,134)

Seville (La Cartuja | 60,000)

 

Dublin and Bilbao were originally named as Euro 2020 host cities but had to drop out as they were unable to commit to supporters in the stadiums owing to the pandemic, with Dublin’s games going to London and Saint Petersburg instead and Seville replacing Bilbao. Wembley Stadium will host both of the semi-finals in addition to the final.

 

Euro 2020 at Colossus

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Group A

by Graham Ruthven

 

Not many groups at Euro 2020 will be as competitive as Group A. All four teams have their qualities and will have their sights set on making the knockout rounds.

Italy, of course, are the heavyweights of the group. The Azzurri are international football giants, having won the World Cup four times in their history. They have, however, only won the European Championships once before, all the way back in 1968.

Turkey could be the dark horses of this summer’s tournament while Wales will stand a chance of getting out of their group if their big hitters show up. And then there’s Switzerland, one of international football’s biggest overachievers in recent years. Here’s what to expect from Group A.

 

Turkey

 

Goalkeepers: Mert Günok (İstanbul Başakşehir), Uğurcan Çakır (Trabzonspor), Altay Bayındır (Fenerbahçe)

Defenders: Zeki Çelik (LOSC Lille), Mert Müldür (Sassuolo), Merih Demiral (Juventus), Ozan Kabak (Liverpool), Çağlar Söyüncü (Leicester), Kaan Ayhan (Sassuolo), Umut Meraş (Le Havre)

Midfielders: Abdülkadir Ömür (Trabzonspor), Cengiz Ünder (Leicester), Efecan Karaca (Alanyaspor), Dorukhan Toköz (Beşiktaş), İrfan Can Kahveci (Fenerbahçe), Okay Yokuşlu (West Brom), Orkun Kökçü (Feyenoord), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahçe), Taylan Antalyalı (Galatasaray), Hakan Çalhanoğlu (AC Milan), Yusuf Yazıcı (LOSC Lille)

Forwards: Burak Yılmaz (LOSC Lille), Enes Ünal (Getafe), Halil İbrahim Dervişoğlu (Galatasaray), Kenan Karaman (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Kerem Aktürkoğlu (Galatasaray)

 

 

Who’s the boss?

Turkey manager, Senol Gunes, led them to their greatest ever achievement as a football nation. Back in 2002, it was Gunes who was Turkey boss when the country made it all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup. Now he’s back at the helm.

At first, it seemed Gunes had picked up where he left off all those years ago, guiding Turkey through Euro 2020 qualification with relative ease. However, since then Turkey have suffered a disappointing UEFA Nations League campaign, raising questions over the direction of the national team under its current boss.

 

What about the team?

Gunes has yet to settle on a formation ahead of this summer’s tournament and that could be a problem for Turkey. This contributed to a disappointing stretch of performances and results over the autumn and into the early winter that saw Turkey win just one out of eight international fixtures.turkey euro 2020 preview

However, Gunes can be encouraged by the number of options he has at his disposal. One of the biggest decisions he faces concerns the make-up of his defence but Caglar Soyuncu, Ozan Kabak and Merih Demiral are all elite level centre backs. Whoever Gunes picks as his centre back pairing will possess quality.

There has been a shift in mood around the Turkish national team since they qualified for Euro 2020 with a very impressive record. Gunes must install some confidence back into a group that could, with the right system and approach, make the knockout rounds.

 

Star player

Soyuncu and Burak Yılmaz will be key figures for Turkey this summer but Hakan Calhanoglu will be their pace-setter and creator in-chief. So much of Turkey’s play flows through the AC Milan midfielder, who has enjoyed a successful season at club level, leading the Rossoneri back into the Champions League.

Calhanoglu is technically exceptional with the ball at his feet and is a real threat from set pieces. In fact, there aren’t many better freekick takers anywhere in the sport right now. If Turkey are to enjoy a strong tournament, they will need their playmaker to be in top form.

 

Italy

 

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)

Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Marco Verratti (Paris)

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo)

 

Who’s the boss?

Roberto Mancini will be one of the most recognisable managers at this summer’s championships, certainly to Premier League fans. The former Inter, Lazio and Manchester City manager was appointed Azzurri boss after his country’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and, while this isn’t a vintage Italian team, he has turned their fortunes around.

Italy claimed a perfect ten wins from ten in qualification. What was most impressive, though, was that they only conceded four goals in the process. This sound defensive basis could give Italy a genuine chance of going far at Euro 2020. Mancini is an experienced coach who is getting the most out of his group.

 

What about the team?

Thus far, Mancini has stuck with his favoured 4-3-3 formation as Italy manager. While the former City boss has rotated his attack in recent matches, the formula remains consistent – he deploys an orthodox centre forward in either Andrea Belotti or Ciro Immobile with wide forwards either side of them, providing width and creativity.italy euro 2020 preview

Jorginho is most commonly used as the deepest lying of the midfield three, offering structure and a controlling influence in the centre of the pitch. Around him, Nicolo Barella will provide drive and energy as something of a playmaker. This duo should give Italy balance.

There will be an experienced look to Italy’s defence at Euro 2020, with Leonardo Bonucci and Georgino Chiellini expected to partner each other at the back. Despite this, Mancini has cultivated a new generation of Azzurri stars and this summer could be the first time they truly make their mark on the international game.

 

Star player

Italy have a number of standout performers – see Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jorginho and Barella among others – but Federico Chiesa could be their greatest difference maker this summer. The 23-year-old has proved his doubters wrong by flourishing at Juventus, becoming a real driving force for the Old Lady towards the end of the season.

Chiesa finished his first season as a Juventus player with 15 goals and 10 assists. He is a creative hub and Mancini’s system, which will give his fluid, interchangeable front three freedom, could suit him. Whether it’s on the left or the right, Chiesa could be the man to provide the Azzurri with a spark.

 

Wales

 

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Stoke City)

Defenders: Ben Davies (Tottenham), Joe Rodon (Tottenham), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Chris Gunter (Charlton Athletic), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United), Neco Williams (Liverpool), Connor Roberts (Swansea City), Ben Cabango (Swansea City), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town)

Midfielders: Joe Allen (Stoke City), Joe Morrell (Luton Town), Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Matthew Smith (Manchester City), Jonny Williams (Cardiff City), Aaron Ramsey (Juventus), Dylan Levitt (Manchester United), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City), David Brooks (Bournemouth), Harry Wilson (Liverpool)

Forwards: Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Tyler Roberts (Leeds United), Daniel James (Manchester United)

 

Who’s the boss?

Ryan Giggs led Wales through qualification to Euro 2020 but won’t take charge of the country at the tournament itself after being charged with assaulting two women and coercive or controlling behaviour.

Instead, Giggs’ former assistant, Robert Page, will lead Wales into Euro 2020 in difficult circumstances. Nonetheless, results since the turn of the year have been positive, claiming wins over Mexico and Czech Republic. Wales suffered a 3-1 defeat away to Belgium in March, but there was no shame in the way they played.

 

What about the team?

Euro 2016 was memorable for Wales. Indeed, Chris Coleman’s side were the surprise package of the whole tournament, making a sensational run all the way to the semi-finals. Matching that achievement this summer will almost certainly be beyond Page’s team but they could still make a good impression.wales euro 2020 preview

Page is most likely to use a back three this summer with Joe Rodon the defensive bedrock upon which he will build the rest of his side. Aaron Ramsey will be the box-to-box midfielder who links a lot of the team while David Brooks or Harry Wilson will drop in between the lines of transition, to offer creativity and a goal threat.

If Wales are lacking in one key area, it’s up front. They don’t boast a reliable goalscorer to lead the line and this could hold them back. However, the pace of Bale and Dan James could be enough to get them into the opposition penalty area frequently.

 

Star man

It would be lazy to label Wales a ‘one man team,’ but there’s no denying the importance of Gareth Bale to their Euro 2020 chances. While the 31-year-old isn’t the force he was a few years ago, he still finished the season with 16 goals for Tottenham Hotspur. Bale is still capable of deciding a game on his own.

Bale has long reserved his best form for his country and there is a sense that he has fine-tuned himself for this tournament all season long, improving with almost match he played over the last couple months. As long as the winger can stay fit, Wales will have a player capable of causing problems for any opponent.

 

Switzerland

 

Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer (Mönchengladbach), Yvon Mvogo (PSV), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier)

Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Dortmund), Loris Benito (Bordeaux), Eray Cömert (Basel), Nico Elvedi (Mönchengladbach), Jordan Lotomba (Nice), Kevin Mbabu (Wolfsburg), Becir Omeragic (Zürich), Ricardo Rodríguez (Torino), Fabian Schär (Newcastle United), Silvan Widmer (Basel)

Midfielders: Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Admir Mehmedi (Wolfsburg), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool), Djibril Sow (Frankfurt), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Mönchengladbach), Steven Zuber (Frankfurt)

Forwards: Breel Embolo (Mönchengladbach), Mario Gavranović (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferović (Benfica)

 

Who’s the boss?

Vladimir Petkovic has been in charge of the Swiss national team since 2014, making him one of the longest serving managers at Euro 2020. The 57-year-old is an experienced operator who knows how to guide a side through a major tournament.

Petkovic led Switzerland to the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2016. In fact, Switzerland have reached this stage of the last three international tournaments they have played. Petkovic is a steady pair of hands who knows what to expect from this group of players and how to get the best out of them.

 

What about the team?

For a country with no obvious superstars, Switzerland have a remarkable record in recent years. Indeed, they continue to punch above their weight and will fancy their chances of once again making it to the knockout rounds of another major tournament switzerland euro 2020 previewthis summer.

Petkovic is expected to favour a back three at Euro 2020. Fabian Schar enjoyed an impressive season in the Premier League with Newcastle United and will likely partner Manuel Akanji and one other at the back with experienced shot-stopper Yann Sommer between the posts.

The back three gives Switzerland a degree of control in the centre of the pitch with Ricardo Rodriguez, another experienced figure, charged with offering width as a wing back. This will give Haris Seferovic the platform to attack with some freedom as Petkovic’s main man up front.

 

Star man

As already referenced, Switzerland aren’t exactly stocked with superstars but Manuel Akanji could be key for them this summer. The 25-year-old isn’t just a naturally gifted defender with the physical attributes to take him to the top of the sport but an important part of how Switzerland play out from the back.

Akanji is sometimes prone to lapses in concentration. This is his biggest weakness as a player and the one thing that has held him back from developing further at Borussia Dortmund. If, however, Akanji can maintain his focus, this summer’s European Championships could be a landmark moment in his career.

 

Fixtures

Friday 11th June – Turkey vs. Italy (20:00, Rome)

Saturday 12th June – Wales vs. Switzerland (14:00, Baku)

Wednesday 16th June – Turkey vs. Wales (17:00, Baku)

Wednesday 16th June – Italy vs. Switzerland (20:00, Rome)

Sunday 20th June – Switzerland vs. Turkey (17:00, Baku)

Sunday 20th June – Italy vs. Wales (17:00, Rome)

 

Prediction

  1. Italy
  2. Switzerland
  3. Turkey
  4. Wales

 

Group B

by Ed Acteson

 

On the face of it, winning Group B looks a reasonably straightforward task for Belgium, who come into Euro 2020 at the summit of the FIFA world rankings.

The Red Devils will be looking to build on their third place finish at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and their biggest obstacle could be the 1992 European champions, Denmark, who are now ranked tenth in the world and come into the tournament on the back of a strong run of form.

Finland, making their international tournament debut, and Russia complete the group and will each be hopeful of joining Belgium in qualification from a pool which looks fairly open.

 

Denmark

 

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Jonas Lössl (Midtjylland), Frederik Rønnow (Schalke)

Defenders: Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Simon Kjær (AC Milan), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Joachim Andersen (Fulham), Daniel Wass (Valencia), Mathias Jørgensen (Copenhagen), Joakim Mæhle (Atalanta), Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton), Nicolai Boilesen (Copenhagen)

Midfielders: Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Christian Nørgaard (Brentford), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham), Thomas Delaney (Dortmund), Anders Christiansen (Malmö), Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan), Mikkel Damsgaard (Sampdoria), Robert Skov (Hoffenheim)

Forwards: Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona), Andreas Cornelius (Parma), Andreas Skov Olsen (Bologna), Yussuf Poulsen (Leipzig), Kasper Dolberg (Nice), Jonas Wind (Copenhagen)

 

Who’s the boss?

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand took an unorthodox route to international management, following a playing career that was ended prematurely due to injury.

Moving straight into coaching at Lyngby’s U18 side, Hjulmand worked his way up to become first team manager, where his record subsequently earnt him a move to Nordsjaelland. It was there where he made his first major waves after steering the club to their first ever Danish Superliga title in the 2011/12 season.

Following a brief stint at Mainz and an eventual return to Nordsjaelland, Hjulmand was appointed as the successor to Age Hareide, whose contract would expire following Euro 2020. However, the tournament’s eventual postponement would defer the opportunity to Hjulmand instead.

 

What about the team?

The Danes got off to a tremendous start to life under their new manager, with eight wins and a draw from his first eleven games in charge including a shock win over England. The only defeats in that run came at the hands of their Group B opponents Belgium in the UEFA Nations League so are entirely forgivable.denmark euro 2020 preview

Typically for a side outside the traditional footballing heavyweights, Denmark possess a tight knit squad who will rely on a core group of players if they are to progress in this tournament. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (vice-captain) and defender Simon Kjaer (captain) in addition to Christian Eriksen will form the core leadership group, with familiar names such as Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Yussuf Poulsen and Martin Braithwaite also likely to feature heavily.

Kasper Hjulmand has the Danes playing an attractive, attacking brand of football with Christian Eriksen central to supplying their wingers and forwards. They outscored England, also finishing above them, in their Nations League group while only eight sides netted more often then Denmark in qualifying for this tournament.

 

Star man

All eyes will understandably be on Christian Eriksen who, by the end of the tournament, will surely have displaced another legendary Danish playmaker, Michael Laudrup, as the fifth most capped player in the nation’s history.

The former-Spurs star was central to Inter Milan’s Serie A title triumph this season and stopping him will be the key to stopping Denmark at Euro 2020. Expect teams to swarm him when in possession in order to starve Denmark’s attacking players of service.

 

Finland

 

Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky (Leverkusen), Jesse Joronen (Brescia), Anssi Jaakkola (Bristol Rovers)

Defenders: Paulus Arajuuri (Pafos), Daniel O’Shaugnessy (HJK Helsinki), Joona Toivio (Häcken), Leo Väisänen (Elfsborg), Sauli Väisänen (Chievo), Robert Ivanov (Warta Poznań), Jere Uronen (Genk), Nikolai Alho (MTK Budapest), Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United), Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg)

Midfielders: Glen Kamara (Rangers), Robert Taylor (Brann), Robin Lod (Minnesota United), Joni Kauko (Esbjerg), Onni Valakari (Pafos), Rasmus Schüller (Djurgården), Thomas Lam (Zwolle), Tim Sparv (Larissa), Fredrik Jensen (Augsburg), Lassi Lappalainen (Montréal)

Forwards: Joel Pohjanpalo (Union Berlin), Marcus Forss (Brentford), Teemu Pukki (Norwich)

 

Who’s the boss?

With just a short spell as head coach of FC Viikingit prior to his appointment as Finland U21 boss in 2004, Markku Kanerva has spent the last 17 years in the Finland set up, progressing to assistant manager of the first team in 2011 before finally taking the top job in 2016.

He has already become the most successful manager in the history of Finland, simply through virtue of qualifying for Euro 2020, which is remarkably the first major tournament the Scandinavians have ever taken part in.

 

What about the team?

Qualifying from the group will be regarded as a big success for a Finnish squad lacking star power and top level experience. With just 16 goals scored in qualifying, only Wales and the Czech Republic scored less from those that qualified automatically, it was Finland’s miserly defence which saw them finland euro 2020 previewthrough when it mattered.

With just ten goals conceded in ten games, the Finnish look sure to opt for a counter-attacking philosophy as their best chance of success here, with the experience of Paulus Arajuuri and Juhani Ojala likely to prove pivotal in organising their backline.

Progression looks a tall order for Finland, though, who will need to be well organised if they are to avoid a quick return to Helsinki. Five matches without a win (at the time of writing) in the build up to this tournament is far from ideal preparation.

 

Star man

Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki is unquestionably the man whom Finland will look towards to spearhead their attacks. His two alternatives, Lassi Lappalainen and Roope Riski, have just 14 caps and a single goal between them.

With 90 caps and 30 goals, Pukki is comfortably the most experienced and dangerous player in the squad and will have to be brutally efficient here, with possession and chances likely to be few and far between for Kanerva’s side.

 

Belgium

 

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Mats Selz (Strasbourg)

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)

Midfielders: Timothy Castagne (Leicester), Nacer Chadli (İstanbul Başakşehir), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Thorgan Hazard (Dortmund), Thomas Meunier (Dortmund), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Dortmund)

Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Jérémy Doku (Rennes), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)

 

Who’s the boss?

Spaniard Roberto Martinez is the familiar face in the Belgian dugout, following his spells in the Premier League managing Swansea, Wigan and Everton.

Martinez has overseen Belgium’s rise to the top of the world rankings since his appointment in 2016, yet there remains a sense that he has underachieved with a supremely talented group of players, having lost in the semi-finals of the World Cup and failed to qualify for the final stages of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Amid links to the vacant Tottenham position, which he refused to comment on, Martinez will need to be fully focussed on the job at hand this summer, as a disappointing showing could spell curtains for his reign.

 

What about the team?

Widely lauded as their golden generation, Belgium’s squad is littered with world class stars. From Thibaut Courtois, to Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, among many others, Belgium have some of the biggest and mostbelgium euro 2020 preview successful names in world football over the last ten years.

However, following their disappointing semi-final exit in Russia, have the Belgians missed their opportunity? The vast majority of their first team squad are now 28 or older with many in their 30s and this does truly feel like their last opportunity before a big squad rebuild is needed.

Belgium are one of the true contenders to win this tournament and will, perhaps, be disappointed with anything less.

 

Star man

Though Romelu Lukaku is duking it out with Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski to be regarded as the best striker in Europe at the moment, it can be none other than the incredible Kevin de Bruyne.

Manchester City’s mercurial midfielder is among the finest players in the world and everything that Belgium create this summer will go through him. With an exceptional eye for a pass and a freakish rate of goal contributions in the Premier League, an in-form de Bruyne could truly make the difference between success and failure for The Red Devils.

 

Russia

 

Goalkeepers: Yuri Dyupin (Rubin), Matvei Safonov (Krasnodar), Anton Shunin (Dinamo Moskva)

Defenders: Igor Diveev (CSKA Moskva), Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moskva), Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moskva), Vyacheslav Karavaev (Zenit), Fedor Kudryashov (Antalyaspor), Andrei Semenov (Akhmat)

Midfielders: Dmitri Barinov (Lokomotiv Moskva), Denis Cheryshev (Valencia), Daniil Fomin (Dinamo Moskva), Aleksandr Golovin (Monaco), Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit), Andrei Mostovoy (Zenit), Maksim Mukhin (CSKA Moskva), Magomed Ozdoev (Zenit), Rifat Zhemaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moskva), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moskva)

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Zenit), Aleksei Ionov (Krasnodar), Denis Makarov (Rubin), Aleksei Miranchuk (Atalanta), Aleksandr Sobolev (Spartak Moskva), Anton Zabolotny (CSKA Moskva)

 

Who’s the boss?

Stanislav Cherchesov has been in charge of Russia since 2016 and took them to the quarter-finals of their home World Cup in 2018, sensationally knocking out the much-fancied Spain in the last 16.

He has came extremely close to qualifying for the top tier of the UEFA Nations League at both attempts, narrowly missing out each time. Cherchesov has been loyal to his 2018 squad, which is largely unchanged, despite being one of the oldest at that tournament.

However, with two of their three group games at home in front of a 50% capacity crowd and the unwavering support of his players, Chechesov will be extremely confident of reaching the knockout stages again. Given that advantage and their propensity to perform well in the knockout rounds, they could be one of the dark horses of this tournament.

 

What about the team?

As previously alluded, a failure to refresh the squad with a new breed of stars could, ultimately, be Russia’s undoing here. russia euro 2020 previewThey are still reliant on the 37-year-old Yuri Zhirkov in addition to 32-year-old Artem Dzyuba to martial their defence and attack respectively.

Prior to their victories over Malta and Slovenia in March, Russia embarked on a six game winless run which may have set alarm bells ringing for some of their supporters. However, far more encouraging signs came in qualification where they won eight of their ten matches, landing home and away wins against Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino and only losing twice to Belgium, who they meet once again in this group.

 

Star man

Monaco’s Aleksandr Golovin has established himself as a key player for the Ligue Un side and could make his name on the global stage with a big showing at Euro 2020. A versatile attacking midfielder, Golovin can score goals and create chances which could be vital in a group where three of the sides lack world class talent.

After a strong season for Monaco and with Golovin still just 25-years-old, a strong tournament could lead to links with bigger European clubs.

 

Fixtures

Saturday 12th June – Denmark vs. Finland (17:00, Copenhagen)

Saturday 12th June – Belgium vs. Russia (20:00, Saint Petersburg)

Wednesday 16th June – Finland vs. Russia (14:00, Saint Petersburg)

Thursday 17th June – Denmark vs. Belgium (17:00, Copenhagen)

Monday 21st June – Russia vs. Denmark (20:00, Copenhagen)

Monday 21st June – Finland vs. Belgium (20:00, Saint Petersburg)

 

Prediction

  1. Belgium
  2. Russia
  3. Denmark
  4. Finland

 

Group C

by Harry de Cosemo

 

Group C is certainly one for the football purists. The Netherlands, who are taking part in their first tournament since the 2014 World Cup, are favourites to succeed here on paper, but Frank de Boer has not enjoyed the smoothest start to life as coach since replacing Ronald Koeman last summer.

Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia are all perhaps lesser known quantities but each have their strengths and will be looking to impress.

 

Netherlands

 

Goalkeepers: Marco Bizot (AZ), Tim Krul (Norwich), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax)

Defenders: Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Nathan Aké (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Denzel Dumfries (PSV), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Jurriën Timber (Ajax), Joël Veltman (Brighton), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan), Owen Wijndal (AZ)

Midfielders: Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

Forwards: Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven), Memphis Depay (Lyon), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moskva), Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg)

 

Who’s the boss?

There are some people who believe Frank de Boer is extremely lucky to be in the position he is. His reputation has taken some heavy blows over the past five or six years, but he was seen as one of the most exciting coaches in Europe at Ajax, where he won five straight Eredivisie titles between 2010 and 2015.

Unsuccessful spells at Inter and Crystal Palace, where he lasted just four games in the 2017/18 season, and a stint in the United States with Atlanta United were hardly ideal preparation for such a big responsibility.

 

What about the team?

Holland should be fairly confident of winning this group, having managed to avoid being drawn alongside any of the traditional big hitters.holland eurp 2020 preview Memphis Depay will be key to their chances and the spine of the team remains fairly healthy with the likes of Matthijs de Ligt in defence and Georginio Wijnaldum and the extremely exciting Ajax youngster Ryan Gravenberch in midfield.

Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out as he continues to recover from a knee injury, ahead of the new season with Liverpool, which is a bitter blow. All eyes will certainly be on the Dutch to see if they can finally live up to the hype but they should be a good bet to win the group given the inconsistency which has plagued their opponents in recent years and a more even spread of quality over the pitch.

 

Star man

There is more quality on paper than this team showed in their failed qualification campaigns for Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018. Memphis Depay has come of age during his time with Lyon in France after initially breaking onto the scene as a teenager at PSV Eindhoven and then flattering to deceive at Manchester United.

Despite suffering a serious injury in Ligue 1, Depay has successfully made the transition from winger to deep-lying forward; that much is reflected in his 20 league goals and also the fact that he netted six in six in qualification for this tournament. The 27-year-old could be a real talisman this summer and is certainly one to keep an eye on.

 

Ukraine

 

Goalkeepers: Georgiy Bushchan (Dynamo Kyiv), Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk), Anatolii Trubin (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Defenders: Eduard Sobol (Club Brugge), Illia Zabarnyi (Dynamo Kyiv), Serhiy Kryvtsov (Shakhtar Donetsk), Denys Popov (Dynamo Kyiv), Oleksandr Tymchyk (Dynamo Kyiv), Vitaliy Mykolenko (Dynamo Kyiv), Oleksandr Karavaev (Dynamo Kyiv), Mykola Matviyenko (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Midfielders: Serhiy Sydorchuk (Dynamo Kyiv), Ruslan Malinovskyi (Atalanta), Mykola Shaparenko (Dynamo Kyiv), Marlos (Shakhtar Donetsk), Yevhen Makarenko (Kortrijk), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City), Viktor Tsygankov (Dynamo Kyiv), Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar Donetsk), Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham), Oleksandr Zubkov (Ferencváros), Heorhii Sudakov (Shakhtar Donetsk), Roman Bezus (Gent)

Forwards: Roman Yaremchuk (Gent), Artem Besedin (Dynamo Kyiv), Artem Dovbyk (Dnipro-1)

 

Who’s the boss?

Record goalscorer, politician, national hero and now international coach. Andriy Shevchenko has been everything to Ukraine. His popularity may be unwavering with fans for obvious reasons but that doesn’t mean to say his time in charge has been plain sailing.

After taking over in the aftermath of a group stage exit at Euro 2016, his first job having previously been assistant to Mykhaylo Formenko, there were calls for him to be sacked once he failed to qualify for the World Cup two years later. But patience paid off and Shevchenko repaid the faith instilled in him by reaching these finals, clinching their place with a 2-1 win over reigning European champions Portugal in October 2019.

 

What about the team?

There will not be too many punters backing Ukraine for success this summer but perhaps they should be treated with some respect. Shevchenko has a lot of genuine quality to choose from and his squad includes theukraine euro 2020 preview likes of West Ham United’s Andriy Yarmolenko, Atalanta pair Viktor Kovaleko and Ruslan Malinovskyi and Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko who are almost certain to be involved.

With a lot of attacking and creative talent on the pitch, there is scope for Ukraine to be quite expansive, and they will certainly will cause problems for a lot of teams going forward, but they have also conceded heavily in matches against the likes of Spain and France.

Form wise, Ukraine haven’t won since beating Spain last year and have drawn their last four games 1-1. They’ll hope they can start with a shock victory over the Netherlands on matchday one in order to gather some momentum. Equally, though, they coasted through qualification unbeaten and as group winners ahead of Portugal. Watch out for them.

 

Star man

He may not have the same level of poster boy appeal as Shevchenko did,but there is one player who stands out above all in the Ukraine squad. Oleksandr Zinchenko has become somebody who Pep Guardiola can rely upon at Manchester City, albeit playing at left-back.

He will captain the side this summer and could be deployed in a more advanced role to impact matches higher up the pitch but Malinovskyi is someone who can dictate the midfield, with Yarmolenko providing a threat in attack from wide areas. The Atalanta man registered 12 assists in Serie A last season, and could really impress on the big stage.

 

Austria

 

Goalkeepers: Daniel Bachmann (Watford), Pavao Pervan (Wolfsburg), Alexander Schlager (LASK)

Defenders: David Alaba (Bayern), Aleksandar Dragović (Leverkusen), Marco Friedl (Werder Bremen), Martin Hinteregger (Frankfurt), Stefan Lainer (Mönchengladbach), Philipp Lienhart (Freiburg), Stefan Posch (Hoffenheim), Christopher Trimmel (Union Berlin), Andreas Ulmer (Salzburg)

Midfielders: Julian Baumgartlinger (Leverkusen), Christoph Baumgartner (Hoffenheim), Florian Grillitsch (Hoffenheim), Stefan Ilsanker (Frankfurt), Konrad Laimer (Leipzig), Valentino Lazaro (Internazionale), Marcel Sabitzer (Leipzig), Louis Schaub (Luzern), Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg), Alessandro Schöpf (Schalke)

Forwards: Marko Arnautović (Shanghai Port), Michael Gregoritsch (Augsburg), Sasa Kalajdzic (Stuttgart), Karim Onisiwo (Mainz)

 

Who’s the boss?

Austria do not have a great history of qualifying for tournaments, having not reached a World Cup since France ’98. But their recent record at European Championships has been more impressive, having reached two of the last three spectacles. Their coach, Franco Foda, has kept up that pattern.

Having taken over from Marcel Koller, who had been in charge for six years, in 2018 with the World Cup already a failed mission, he got to work on Euro 2020 qualification. Despite hailing from Germany, where he spent much of his playing career, most of his coaching life has been spent at Austrian club side Stern Graz, either in an assistant capacity or as head coach of their reserves and first team. There was also a year-long stint at FC Kaiserslautern in 2012/13.

 

What about the team?

There is a real feeling of a wasted opportunity after Euro 2016, which was exacerbated by failure in their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. Foda was faced with a lot of doubts and frustration when he arrived, and austria euro 2020 previewhe didn’t really ease the pressure with a slow start. Things picked up with victories, if not particularly impressive performances, against Slovenia, Israel and fellow Group C side North Macedonia.

However, despite possessing a number of quality players in attacking positions — notably RB Leipzig’s Marcel Sabitzer and former Stoke City and West Ham United man Marko Arnautovic — Austria have been criticised for playing too defensively and not utilising a promising group of emerging young players enough. The good news is, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder’s Julian Baumgartlinger’s knee injury hasn’t kept him out of the squad but they must make the most of playing predicted group whipping boys North Macedonia first.

 

Star man

Arguably the best player on show in this group, David Alaba remains one of the best players in the world. Previously a free agent after leaving Bayern Munich, the 28-year-old has just signed for Real Madrid. His technique and game intelligence are mightily impressive but it is his versatility which truly makes him so important to Austria.

Often deployed as a full back or centre back at Bayern, he will more than likely operate from midfield this summer, and the responsibility will be on his shoulders to dictate games and unlock the quality Foda’s side have in attacking areas, because they are unlikely to release the handbrake. Alaba will need to perform if Austria are to progress.

 

North Macedonia

 

Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano), Damjan Siskovski (Doxa Katokopia), Riste Jankov (Rabotnicki)

Defenders: Stefan Ristovski (Dinamo Zagreb), Visar Musliu (Fehérvár), Egzon Bejtulai (Shkëndija), Kire Ristevski (Újpest), Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi), Darko Velkovski (Rijeka), Ezdzan Alioski (Leeds)

Midfielders: Arijan Ademi (Dinamo Zagreb), Enis Bardhi (Levante), Stefan Spirovski (AEK Larnaca), Boban Nikolov (Lecce), Tihomir Kostadinov (Ružomberok), Ferhan Hasani (Partizani), Eljif Elmas (Napoli), Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor), Darko Curlinov (Stuttgart), Marjan Radeski (Akademija Pandev)

Forwards: Goran Pandev (Genoa), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Mallorca), Ivan Trickovski (AEK Larnaca), Vlatko Stojanovski (Chambly), Krste Velkovski (Sarajevo), Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava)

 

Who’s the boss?

Whatever happens this summer, North Macedonia have made history and Igor Angelovski should be lauded. Neither as an independent nation nor as part of Yugoslavia have they ever reached a major tournament before and they head into this tournament with no pressure at all.

Angelovsi’s coaching career has been rather understated to date. The 44-year-old has been in charge of the national team since 2015, having previously enjoyed a two-year stint in charge of FK Rabotnicki. He retired from playing in 2009, and will be one of the youngest coaches at Euro 2020.

 

What about the team?

North Macedonia are not blessed with a group of star names they can rely upon, but their teamwork and strategy has taken them far. They also havemacedonia euro 2020 preview UEFA’s Nations League to thank. But their playoff victory over Georgia, courtesy of winning League D, brought one of the most romantic moments of the whole qualifying process. 37-year-old Genoa striker Goran Pandev, a former Champions League wiener with Jose Mourinho’s Inter, scored the crucial goal to send them through.

There isn’t much quality in this team; that was proven by the fact they finished 11 points off group winners Poland in qualifying, but they’ll be in for a brilliant experience, even if it is expected to end early.

 

Star man

Departing Leeds United fullback Erzgjan Alioski is one man who will definitely be known to English audiences. His ability to get forward down the left made a huge difference for Marcelo Bielsa’s side this season and he’ll possibly have an even greater role to play this summer.

 

Fixtures

Sunday 13th June – Austria vs. North Macedonia (17:00, Bucharest)

Sunday 13th June – Netherlands vs. Ukraine (20:00, Amsterdam)

Thursday 17th June – Ukraine vs. North Macedonia (14:00, Bucharest)

Thursday 17th June – Netherlands vs. Austria (20:00, Amsterdam)

Monday 21st June – North Macedonia vs. Netherlands (17:00, Amsterdam)

Monday 21st June – Ukraine vs. Austria (17:00 Bucharest)

 

Prediction

  1. Netherlands
  2. Ukraine
  3. Austria
  4. North Macedonia

 

Group D

by Ed Acteson

 

A tricky-looking group featuring a number of interesting sub-plots, not least for England who, ranked fourth in the world, will be expected to win the group comfortably on home soil.

The first and most obvious narrative is the latest meeting of the oldest rivals in international football, England vs. Scotland. The pair have the luxury of hosting all the group games at Wembley and Hampden Park, though Scotland will have to travel south to play their foes.

However, England will also be out for revenge over Croatia, who knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage. Then there is the Czech Republic, second to England in qualifying, and who can never be fully written off.

It promises to be a fascinating group that could well end with no side managing a perfect record.

 

England

 

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atlético), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham)

Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

 

Who’s the boss?

The pressure is well and truly on Gareth Southgate, who takes charge of one of the best England squads in the last 20 years in what is effectively a home tournament for the Three Lions while a number of their rival European powerhouses are undergoing periods of transition. The stars really couldn’t have aligned much better.

It cannot be stated how much of an advantage England have as the only side in the tournament who will at no stage have to play a game away from their national stadium if they are to emerge victorious.

Excluding the will he / won’t he narrative surrounding Trent Alexander-Arnold’s possible omission from the squad, it has been a controversy free build up for the England camp. Given their home advantage and squad strength, this is truly England’s best chance to end their 55 year trophy drought for an awfully long time.

Gareth Southgate became a national pariah after missing a decisive penalty in England’s last home tournament, could his redemption arc be complete this summer at another?

 

What about the team?

Southgate has an embarrassment of riches to call upon up front but it is the other end of the pitch, specifically in central defence and in goal, where many fear England could come unstuck.

A squad that once boasted such Premier League greats as england euro 2020 previewJohn Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell and Ledley King, is now relying on Harry Maguire and John Stones staying fit, with Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings the back ups. While the latter pair are decent players for their clubs, it’s an undeniable decline.

Similarly the goalkeeping situation is an obvious area of concern, with the much maligned Jordan Pickford now certain to start. England fans will be praying he doesn’t make the type of gaffes that have blighted his Everton career.

Gareth Southgate will be hoping that any risk posed by a shaky backline will be outweighed by a midfield and attack featuring some of the best young players in world football. With wide players like Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden in addition to Harry Kane in the middle, England possess a range of attacking options that perhaps no other side can match.

 

Star man

Of course it has to be the Golden Boot winner from the 2018 World Cup and the 2020/21 Premier League season, Harry Kane.

The England captain is now up to sixth in the all-time England goalscorer rankings and needs just 19 more to match Wayne Rooney’s record of 53, a feat that he will surely eclipse by the time he retires.

Kane has been in the papers recently after telling Tottenham Hotspur that he wants to move. Another prolific tournament will serve as a reminder to any potential suitors of what he offers, though would may also result in Daniel Levy gleefully slapping an extra £10 million on his asking price.

England can score from all areas of the pitch but a fit and firing Kane gives them a real chance of winning Euro 2020.

 

Croatia

 

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb), Lovre Kalinić (Hajduk Split), Simon Sluga (Luton)

Defenders: Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético Madrid), Borna Barišić (Rangers), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Marseille), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Josip Juranović (Legia Warszawa), Domagoj Vida (Beşiktaş), Joško Gvardiol (Leipzig), Domagoj Bradarić (LOSC Lille), Mile Škorić (Osijek)

Midfielders: Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozović (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Nikola Vlašić (CSKA Moskva), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Ivan Perišić (Inter Milan), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb), Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo Zagreb)

Forwards: Ante Rebić (AC Milan), Bruno Petković (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim)

 

Who’s the boss?

Following a seven-year spell in the Middle East, at three different clubs, Zlatko Dalic was something of a wildcard when he was appointed as successor to Ante Cacic in 2017.

Initially stating that he would only remain as head coach if he guided Croatia to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Dalic far exceeded even his own expectations by guiding The Blazers to the final, where they ultimately lost out to France.

Dalic has said that he will utilise a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 system, as they did in Russia, and he will be determined to upset England once again and top the group.

 

What about the team?

A similar story shared by a few nations in Euro 2020, Croatia’s biggest issue in the three years since Russia has been refreshing an aging squad. 31-year old Dejan Lovren, 35-year-old Luka Modric, croatia euro 2020 preview32-year-old Domagoj Vida and 32-year-old Ivan Perisic still form the captaincy group and will, despite their advancing years, be heavily relied upon on the pitch.

That isn’t to say that the lack genuine talent elsewhere though. Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic, Marcelo Brozovic and Sime Vrsaljko will help to form the basis of a very strong first XI.

With three qualification places potentially available, Croatia should at the very least qualify from the group and then, as 2018 proved, who knows?

 

Star man

At the venerable age of 35, the hopes of the nation still rest of the diminutive shoulders of 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric, who continues to prove his worth to club and country.

After a hectic season in Spain where he, at times, carried Los Blancos, whether Modric has the legs to drag Croatia deep into this tournament is yet to be seen. One thing is for sure though, he is their best hope of a repeat performance.

 

Scotland

 

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian), David Marshall (Derby), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers)

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich), Jack Hendry (Celtic), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Nathan Patterson (Rangers), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), David Turnbull (Celtic)

Forwards: Ché Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (QPR), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian)

 

Who’s the boss?

With a wealth of experience as both manager and assistant manager across England and Scotland, Steve Clarke was appointed Scotland chief in 2019 after impressively leading Kilmarnock to a third place finish in the Scottish Premiership.

He has continued his fantastic work with the Tartan Terriers, leading them to Euro 2020 qualification through a tough playoff group that included Israel, Norway and Serbia. It is their first appearance at a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

Their previous appearance at the European Championships, though, was two years earlier at Euro 1996. Not only was that tournament also based in England but England and Scotland were also paired together in that group stage, coincidentally.

 

What about the team?

The Scots will be buoyed by two of their three group stage fixtures taking place at Hampden Park. They will fancy their chances of capitalising on this home advantage to take enough points from Croatia and the Czech Republic to qualify, with the England game at Wembley obviously a fierce derby which both would love to win regardless of the wider tournament context.

Though Scotland may not be able toscotland euro 2020 preview boast the squad depth that their southern neighbours do, they have a number of very talented players in their first XI, with a pair of left backs in Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney which any nation would be proud of. How Clarke squeezes both into his starting XI is yet to be seen, though Tierney will likely be deployed on the left of a back three with Robertson as a wing back.

Goalscoring was an issue for Scotland in qualifying, with just 16 goals from their ten games. Eight of those came against the group whipping boys, San Marino, so hopes will be high that newly recruited Southampton forward Che Adams can give them an additional attacking edge,

In midfield, Scotland can call upon the talents of Scott McTominay, John McGinn, Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong and Billy Gilmour so have plenty of options. The best Scotland squad in a long time will be determined not to go home in a hurry.

 

Star man

A Champions League and Premier League winner as well as their captain, Andrew Robertson has been there and done it all before. Despite an inauspicious season, he remains one of the finest left backs in the world and Scotland will rely on him to provide the pace, width and crosses to cause problems for any opponent.

If he and Tierney can forge an understanding and overlap one another successfully, they could be one of the most intriguing player combinations of the tournament.

 

Czech Republic

 

Goalkeepers: Tomáš Vaclík (Sevilla), Jiří Pavlenka (Werder Bremen), Aleš Mandous (Olomouc)

Defenders: Vladimír Coufal (West Ham), Pavel Kadeřábek (Hoffenheim), Ondřej Čelůstka (Sparta Praha), Tomáš Kalas (Bristol City), David Zima (Slavia Praha), Jan Bořil (Slavia Praha), Aleš Matějů (Brescia), Jakub Brabec (Viktoria Plzeň)

Midfielders: Lukáš Masopust (Slavia Praha), Vladimír Darida (Hertha Berlin), Tomáš Souček (West Ham), Antonín Barák (Verona), Alex Král (Spartak Moskva), Tomáš Holeš (Slavia Praha), Petr Ševčík (Slavia Praha), Jakub Jankto (Sampdoria), Adam Hložek (Sparta Praha), Jakub Pešek (Liberec), Michal Sadílek (Liberec)

Forwards: Patrik Schick (Leverkusen), Michael Krmenčík (PAOK), Matěj Vydra (Burnley), Tomáš Pekhart (Legia)

 

Who’s the boss?

A managerial veteran of seven different football clubs, yet none outside his native Czech Republic, Jaroslav Silhavy took over the national side in 2018, following their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

He rectified this disappointment with a successful Euro 2020 qualification campaign where they finished second behind England and even inflicted the Three Lions only qualifying defeat upon them. However, the 5-0 thumping they received in the reverse fixture at Wembley makes it a fixture which Silhavy won’t be looking forward to again in this group.

As manager he has implemented a fairly orthodox 4-2-3-1 formation that prioritises defence first, as you might expect from a former defender. However, the Czechs can get forward when in possession, but don’t expect them to be box office viewing.

 

What about the team?

The current Czech squad feels a million miles away from the one which finished second in the last European Championship staged in England, spearheaded by the iconic Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky. The same applies to the squad who reached the Euro 2004 semi-finals, including Petr Cech, Jan Koller Milan Baros and Tomas Rosicky.czech euro 2020 preview

At Euro 2020 the Czech Republic will be looking to the West Ham pair of Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek, who both enjoyed magnificent seasons, as well as Bayer Leverkusen marksman Patrik Schick for inspiration.

A question mark is hanging over the inclusion of Ondrej Kudela, who is waiting to hear whether his appeal against a ten game ban for racially abusing Rangers player Glen Kamara was successful. Should be allowed to join the squad, his inclusion to face Scotland at Hampden Park has the potential for fireworks.

 

Star man

A tough choice between Schick, who has an impressive scoring rate of 10 goals in 24 games for his country, or Tomas Soucek but I’m going to opt for the latter. Soucek had an absolutely outstanding season for West Ham, spearheading their surprise charge into Europe and is a worthy outside candidate to win the player of the season.

If he can translate that domestic form into Euro 2020, it will be an enormous boost for a Czech side lacking significant quality elsewhere.

 

Fixtures

Sunday 13th June – England vs. Croatia (13:00, London)

Monday 14th June – Scotland vs. Czech Republic (14:00, Glasgow)

Friday 18th June – Croatia vs. Czech Republic (17:00, Glasgow)

Friday 18th June – England vs. Scotland (20:00, Wembley)

Tuesday 22nd June – Croatia vs. Scotland (20:00, Glasgow)

Tuesday 22nd June – Czech Republic vs. England (20:00, London)

 

Prediction

  1. England
  2. Scotland
  3. Croatia
  4. Czech Republic

 

Group E

by Graham Ruthven

 

Group Preview

Group E might not be Euro 2020’s ‘Group of Death,’ but there is enough quality across the four teams to make this one worth watching.

Spain have won two of the last three European Championships, in 2008 and 2012, but enter Euro 2020 with a lot of question marks hanging over them. There’s no denying La Roja have talent and should be targeting a run into the latter rounds but can they really go all the way this summer?

Meanwhile, Poland boast the most lethal frontman in the game right now in Robert Lewandowski with Sweden and Slovakia also targeting a place in the knockout rounds. Here’s what to expect from Group E.

 

Spain

 

Goalkeepers: David de Gea (Manchester United), Unai Simón (Athletic), Robert Sánchez (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Defenders: José Gayà (Valencia), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Eric García (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Llorente (Atlético)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri Hernández (Manchester City), Pedri (Barcelona), Thiago Alcántara (Liverpool), Koke (Atlético), Fabián Ruiz (Napoli)

Forwards: Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Álvaro Morata (Juventus), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Adama Traoré (Wolves), Pablo Sarabia (Paris)

 

Who’s the boss?

Luis Enrique was appointed Spain manager after the country’s calamitous showing at the 2018 World Cup and immediately made a good impression. The former Barcelona boss left his post a year later due to a personal tragedy, but returned to take charge of La Roja in November 2019.

As a former Champions League and La Liga winner, the 51-year-old will be one of the most high profile managers at Euro 2020 and has already shown he is willing to make bold, sometimes unpopular, decisions. More on that later…

 

What about the team?

Enrique’s decision to omit Sergio Ramos, and every other Real Madrid player, from his 24-man squad certainly made headlines in Spain. However, the country’s talent pool is so deep it was always likely that a handful of big names would miss out (see Marco Asensio, Iago Aspas, Nacho Fernandez and Jesus Navas).spain euro 2020 preview

Spain come into Euro 2020 on the back of a five-game unbeaten streak which included a 6-0 mauling of Germany in the UEFA Nations League at the end of last year. Enrique likes his team to play with high intensity and with the ball at their feet, as Spanish sides tend to do. This requires a good level of fitness.

While Spain are not seen to be among the frontrunners to go all the way at Euro 2020, they have the talent to go far at the tournament. La Roja are on the brink of a generational transition and that will be evident in the number of young players fielded this summer, and in the number of experienced big names missing.

 

Star man

Pedri has emerged as a true star for club and country over the last 12 months. The 18-year-old is fresh from a highly impressive first season at Barcelona and could be the player who makes Spain tick at Euro 2020.

The Canary Islands native is very much in the mould of legendary Spanish ball-players such as Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Many in Spain see Pedri as the country’s best hope for the future and while Enrique might protect the teenager by not starting him in every match this summer, he could be La Roja’s biggest difference maker.

 

Sweden

 

Goalkeepers: Karl-Johan Johnsson (København), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Gençlerbirliği), Robin Olsen (Everton)

Defenders: Emil Krafth (Newcastle United), Victor Lindelöf (Manchester United), Marcus Danielson (Dalian Yifang), Pierre Bengtsson (Vejle), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Pontus Jansson (Brentford), Filip Helander (Rangers), Mikael Lustig (AIK), Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborg)

Midfielders: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig), Ken Sema (Watford), Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar), Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus), Sebastian Larsson (AIK), Albin Ekdal (Sampdoria), Kristoffer Olsson (Krasnodar), Jens-Lys Cajuste (Midtjylland), Mattias Svanberg (Bologna), Gustav Svensson (Guangzhou)

Forwards: Marcus Berg (Krasnodar), Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad), Robin Quaison (Mainz), Jordan Larsson (Spartak Moskva)

 

Who’s the boss?

Sweden will be led into their second major tournament under the stewardship of Janne Andersson. The 58-year-old took over the national team following a disappointing showing at Euro 2016 and carried them to the quarter finals of the 2018 World Cup, defying predictions that Sweden would struggle to make it out of their group.

This was after Sweden finished ahead of Italy and Netherlands in their qualification group. Andersson has a win percentage of close to 50% over the last five years, with his national tenure so far considered a success. Can he add to that legacy with another good showing at this summer’s European Championships?

 

What about the team?

Having built his team on a sound defensive basis, Andersson is attempting to transition Sweden into a new generation. The counter-attacking style has worked well for the country in recent major tournaments, but fans now want to see something different from their national team going forward.sweden euro 2020 preview

Sweden suffered just one defeat in their Euro 2020 qualification campaign but results since then have hinted at the struggles Andersson is experiencing in shifting his team into a new philosophy which puts more of a focus on the attack.

Indeed, Sweden struggled against France and Portugal in the UEFA Nations League. A win over Croatia in a challenging group suggests they could still hold their own at Euro 2020, though. If Andersson can find a way to get Alexander Isak and Juventus playmaker Dejan Kulusevski on the same wavelength, Sweden could cause some damage.

 

Star man

Had it not been for injury, Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have been Sweden’s biggest difference maker this summer. However, the 39-year-old will be sidelined for the tournament and so the attacking onus will fall on Alexander Isak to deliver the goals for his national team at Euro 2020.

The 21-yer-old comes into the tournament having scored 17 goals in 34 La Liga appearances for Real Sociedad. Isak has all the attributes to be one of the best strikers in the European game and will have the opportunity to underline that for Sweden this summer. He is strong, technically able and intelligent in the box.

 

Poland

 

Goalkeepers: Łukasz Fabiański (West Ham), Wojciech Szczęsny (Juventus), Łukasz Skorupski (Bologna)

Defenders: Jan Bednarek (Southampton), Bartosz Bereszyński (Sampdoria), Paweł Dawidowicz (Verona), Kamil Glik (Benevento), Michał Helik (Barnsley), Tomasz Kędziora (Dynamo Kyiv), Kamil Piątkowski (Raków Częstochowa), Tymoteusz Puchacz (Lech Poznań), Maciej Rybus (Lokomotiv Moskva)

Midfielders: Przemysław Frankowski (Chicago Fire), Kamil Jóźwiak (Derby), Mateusz Klich (Leeds), Kacper Kozłowski (Pogoń Szczecin), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Lokomotiv Moskva), Karol Linetty (Torino), Jakub Moder (Brighton), Przemysław Płacheta (Norwich), Piotr Zieliński (Napoli)

Forwards: Dawid Kownacki (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Arkadiusz Milik (Marseille), Karol Świderski (PAOK), Jakub Świerczok (Piast Gliwice)

 

Who’s the boss?

The Polish FA took a risk by appointing former Swansea City manager Paulo Sousa as their new manager in January after Jerzy Brzeczek guided the country through qualification to Euro 2020. The pressure is on the Portuguese coach to lead Poland into the knockout rounds of the tournament at the very least.

Sousa himself has a point to prove. The 50-year-old has struggled to make his mark in management since winning the Swiss title with Basel in 2015, failing at Fiorentina and Bordeaux since then. Brzeczek can feel somewhat hard done by that he won’t have the chance to lead Poland into the tournament he helped them qualify for.

 

What about the team?

Sousa has only taken charge of three matches as Poland boss, so the sample size upon which to judge his impact on the team is limited. A 3-3 draw with Hungary in his first game hinted at the work the Portuguese coach had ahead of him, with his only win as Poland manager so far coming against Andorra.poland euro 2020 preview

However, an impressive performance against England at Wembley in March suggested Sousa is starting to get to grips with his new players. While 4-2-3-1 has been Sousa’s preferred system over the course of his career, and the system his predecessor Brzeczek largely used, he adopted a back three for that World Cup qualifier.

Piotr Zielinski will be key for Poland in the centre of the pitch as will Grzegorz Krychowiak. If the pair can provide some control in midfield, Sousa’s side will stand a good chance of holding their own in a difficult group. They cannot rely solely on the individual brilliance of Lewandowski in attack. Poland must find a way to harness him.

 

Star man

There is no goalscorer in the European game as lethal as Robert Lewandowski right now. The 32-year-old, fresh from breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing record for the most goals in a single Bundesliga season, is currently in the form of his life, which is saying something given the heights he has reached over the course of his career.

Lewandowski isn’t the complete forward in the way many strikers in the modern game are but there is nobody better at putting the ball in the back of the net. Of course, he won’t have the support system for Poland that he has at Bayern Munich but with Lewandowski leading the line they could be dark horses to make a deep run at Euro 2020.

 

Slovakia

 

Goalkeepers: Martin Dúbravka (Newcastle), Marek Rodák (Fulham), Dušan Kuciak (Lechia Gdańsk)

Defenders: Peter Pekarík (Hertha Berlin), Ľubomír Šatka (Lech Poznań), Denis Vavro (Huesca), Milan Škriniar (Inter Milan), Tomáš Hubočan (Omonoia), Jakub Holúbek (Gliwice)

Midfielders: Marek Hamšík (IFK Göteborg), Stanislav Lobotka (Napoli), Patrik Hrošovský (Genk), Juraj Kucka (Parma), Ondrej Duda (Köln), Róbert Mak (Ferencváros), Vladimír Weiss (Slovan Bratislava), László Bénes (Augsburg), Lukáš Haraslín (Sassuolo), Tomáš Suslov (Groningen), Matúš Bero (Arnhem), Erik Jirka (Mirandés)

Forwards: Michal Ďuriš (Omonoia), Róbert Boženík (Feyenoord), Dávid Strelec (Slovan Bratislava)

 

Who’s the boss?

Stefan Tarkovic has experience of coaching at a major tournament but not as a manager. The 48-year-old worked under Jan Kozak as Slovakia boss at Euro 2016 and has now stepped into the top job after the sacking of Pavel Hapal in October 2020.

Slovakia’s performances under Hapal at last year’s UEFA Nations League weren’t good enough and so a change was made with Tarkovic initially hired as replacement on an interim basis. The appointment of such an inexperienced manager was risky but he has been rewarded for guiding the country through the playoffs to Euro 2020.

 

What about the team?

Tarkovic has only been in charge for a few months and so it’s not easy to gauge how Slovakia will line up this summer but the performance against Northern Ireland in the qualification playoff offers some indication of how they will play when the pressure is on, as it will be once Euro 2020 kicks off.slovakia euro 2020 preview

Slovakia used a 4-1-4-1 formation against Northern Ireland. That shape gave them a sound defensive basis, but also provided them with the platform to pose a threat higher up the pitch. This balance will need to be struck and Stanislav Lobotka, an anchoring midfielder, could be key to achieving this.

Group E will be a difficult group for Slovakia and on the face of things it appears they might be the whipping boys for more illustrious footballing nations with more obvious talent. However, a solid tactical structure and some standout performances by a number of individuals could see them hold their own.

 

Star man

To succeed at Euro 2020 this summer, Slovakia will need to keep things tight at the back and the performances of Milan Skriniar will be key to that. The 26-year-old has earned himself a reputation as one of the best centre backs in Italy, and Europe, for Inter over the last few years, helping the San Siro club to the Serie A title this season.

Skriniar is strong in the air and a physical presence at the back. Marek Hamsik is still an important figure for Slovakia, even at the age of 33, while Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka will need to be in top form for his country, but it’s Skriniar upon which Tarkovic will build his side this summer.

 

Fixtures

Monday 14th June – Poland vs. Slovakia (17:00, Saint Petersburg)

Monday 14th June – Spain vs. Sweden (20:00, Seville)

Friday 18th June – Sweden vs. Slovakia (14:00, Saint Petersburg)

Saturday 19th June – Spain vs. Poland (20:00, Seville)

Wednesday 23rd June – Slovakia vs. Spain (17:00, Seville)

Wednesday 23rd June – Sweden vs. Poland (17:00, Saint Petersburg)

 

Prediction

  1. Spain
  2. Poland
  3. Sweden
  4. Slovakia

 

Group F

by Harry de Cosemo

 

Gasps met the conclusion of the draw for Group F at Euro 2020, such was its strength. Sometimes, the archetypal ‘group of death’ doesn’t stand out but, ahead of this summer, there is little to no doubting it.

World champions France, European champions Portugal and the might of Germany go head to head. Hungary, who have brilliant history and some talented players in their own right, are the unlucky fourth nation who may have to perform a minor miracle to avoid propping up the table.

 

Hungary

 

Goalkeepers: Péter Gulácsi (Leipzig), Dénes Dibusz (Ferencváros), Ádám Bogdán (Ferencváros)

Defenders: Gergő Lovrencsics (Ferencváros), Endre Botka (Ferencváros), Ádám Lang (Omonia Nicosia), Ákos Kecskés (Lugano), Attila Fiola (Fehérvár), Willi Orbán (Leipzig), Attila Szalai (Fenerbahçe), Bendegúz Bolla (Fehérvár)

Midfielders: Loïc Négo (Fehérvár), Ádám Nagy (Bristol City), László Kleinheisler (Osijek), Dávid Sigér (Ferencváros), Dániel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union), András Schäfer (Dunajská Streda) Tamás Cseri (Mezőkövesd), Filip Holender (Partizan)

Forwards: Ádám Szalai (Mainz), Roland Sallai (Freiburg), Nemanja Nikolić (Fehérvár), Kevin Varga (Kasımpaşa), Roland Varga (MTK Budapest), Szabolcs Schön (FC Dallas), János Hahn (Paks)

 

Who’s the boss?

Little known Italian Marco Rossi has steered Hungary back on track somewhat after a turbulent couple of years. He took over in 2018, taking the biggest step in a coaching career that has spanned time in lower league Italian football, two spells with Hungarian club side Budapest Honved and a season in charge of Slovakian side DAC Dunajska Strega.

Rossi’s playing career saw him represent the likes of Torino, Sampdoria and Eintracht Frankfurt but this is by far the biggest moment of his professional life. While any point is a bonus looking at their group, it is an achievement just qualifying given the stagnation of the progress which was predicted following Hungary winning their group and reaching the knockout stages five years ago.

 

What about the team?

The era of Ferenc Puskas will never be beaten in Hungarian football history but, after so long in the wilderness, reaching the last two Euros is a huge achievement. Grassroots football has not developed as much as was expected since 2016 but there are still likely to be some decent players on show.hungary euro 2020 preview Hungary may have finished fourth in qualifying but the very first instalment of the UEFA Nations League gave them a route into a playoff. It was expected to a tough clash with Iceland but they came through it.

There is a strong spine to this Hungary side, who build from the back with RB Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi and defender Willi Orban. Their understanding lays the foundations for a side who have scored who have scored ten goals in three games and are unbeaten since September 2020. Each game they play will be supremely entertaining at the very least

 

Star man

Widely regarded as the best player to be produced by Hungary in decades, Leipzig’s 20-year-old playmaker Dominik Szoboszlai could well hold the key for his country here. The Red Bull connection saw the Bundesliga runners up snare him from Salzburg in Austria for €20million but it may not be too long until he is on the move again for an even greater sum of money. He is quick in the mind and feet and there aren’t many individuals who can boast such an impact on his team’s style. It may be a case of stopping him to stop Hungary, though.

 

Portugal

 

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patrício (Wolves), Rui Silva (Granada)

Defenders: João Cancelo (Manchester City), Nélson Semedo (Wolves), José Fonte (LOSC Lille), Pepe (Porto), Rúben Dias (Manchester City), Nuno Mendes (Sporting CP), Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund)

Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (Paris), João Palhinha (Sporting CP), Rúben Neves (Wolves), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), João Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (LOSC Lille), Sérgio Oliveira (Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis)

Forwards: Pedro Gonçalves (Sporting CP), André Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), João Félix (Atlético Madrid), Rafa Silva (Benfica)

 

Who’s the boss?

Portugal’s national boss, Fernando Santos, has followed a traditional path and, at 66 years of age, is at the right point in his career for international management. Having taken over from a much younger man, Paulo Bento, in 2014, he steered the Selecao to an unlikely victory at Euro 2016. Prior to that, he managed no fewer than nine different clubs, including all three of the big domestic sides in his homeland — Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica — as well as the Greek national team.

As well as winning the Euros, Santos backed that up by leading his side to victory in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019, beating Holland in the final. He’ll certainly be looking to continue his upward trajectory this summer.

 

What about the team?

Of all the tournaments Portugal could have won, Euro 2016 was the one they expected least. Their squad was in tportugal euro 2020 previewhe midst of a transition, albeit being led by Cristiano Ronaldo who still looked to be at the very top of his game, and they hobbled their way through the tournament without even winning a group game. But they succeeded where greats like Eusebio, Deco, Luis Figo and Manuel Rui Costa failed.

Now, with a strong spine including the likes of Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Andre Silva and the evergreen Ronaldo, they look even stronger as they prepare to defend their crown. Qualification was far from straightforward at times, but they cannot be counted out.

 

Star man

Even at the age of 36, there couldn’t really be anybody else. Cristiano Ronaldo is not the same player as he was even the last time he played in a major tournament but the work he has put into his conditioning and the evolution of his game mean that he is still their chief threat.

He will look to have minimal impact on the game outside the box but, as arguably the greatest goalscorer the game has ever seen, he will always have a chance to pull Portugal out of trouble. Ronaldo is likely to leave Juventus this summer and Portugal must heed warnings about the flow of the team with him in it, but he will certainly have an impact either way.

 

France

 

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (Milan)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Léo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris), Jules Koundé (Sevilla), Clément Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atlético Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern)

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern), Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappé (Paris), Marcus Thuram (Mönchengladbach)

 

Who’s the boss?

Standing as one of very few in a historic club, Didier Deschamps has captained and coached France to World Cup victories 20 years apart. Five years on from defeat to Portugal as hosts in the final at Euro 2016, Les Bleus will be favourites again. Deschamps is not universally popular in France, or across the world, mainly because he doesn’t play particularly expansive football despite the immense talent he has at his disposal. But he deserves credit for the success he has brought his country, managing to convert the enviable quality he has to choose from in his squad.

His previous coaching credits include AS Monaco, whom he helped to the Champions League final in 2004 and Juventus, where he won promotion from Serie B after the Calciopoli match fixing scandal, in 2007. He also coached Marseille and seems well placed to make France champions of Europe and the world simultaneously for the second time in their history.

 

What about the team?

France’s strength in depth is unbelievable and completely unrivalled. They arguably have three world class players in every position and Deschamps has managed to steer them in the right direction, even if theyfrance euro 2020 preview don’t look quite as easy on the eye as they perhaps should.

The secret to their success has been harmony. Previous French sides have been blighted by in-camp fighting and Deschamps is running a risk of something similar by introducing Karim Benzema back into the international fold, six years after saying he would no longer select him after an alleged bribery of a teammate. Benzema has also been less than complimentary of another fellow striker, Olivier Giroud. But, with the likes of N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba available, France really should have enough to go all way.

 

Star man

After inspiring his country to World Cup glory in his breakout tournament in 2018, Kylian Mbappe has gone from strength to strength. He can arguably lay claim to be the best player in the world right now and he will be out to show why once again this summer. His pace is frightening, matched only by his skill and intelligence. As of yet, no defender has worked out how to handle him in full flight.

Tactically, the team is built around him. He drifts in off the left and combines with a striker, who is there to link the play. In Russia, that striker was Giroud, who played a key role despite not scoring a goal in the tournament. Questions remain as to whether Benzema, who provided a similar service for Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid before he departed three years ago, will be as willing to sacrifice himself for the cause.

 

Germany

 

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern), Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Kevin Trapp (Frankfurt)

Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Mönchengladbach), Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea), Robin Gosens (Atalanta), Christian Günter (Freiburg), Marcel Halstenberg (Leipzig), Mats Hummels (Dortmund), Lukas Klostermann (Leipzig), Robin Koch (Leeds), Niklas Süle (Bayern)

Midfielders: İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Emre Can (Dortmund), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern), Thomas Müller (Bayern), Jamal Musiala (Bayern), Serge Gnabry (Bayern), Leon Goretzka (Bayern), Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Jonas Hofmann (Mönchengladbach), Leroy Sané (Bayern), Florian Neuhaus (Mönchengladbach)

Forwards: Timo Werner (Chelsea), Kevin Volland (Monaco)

 

Who’s the boss?

Joachim Low’s coaching career is rather unorthodox with no top level domestic credits to his name. He took on the Germany job in 2006, having previously assisted Jurgen Klinsmann. While his reign has been remarkably successful, winning the World Cup in 2014 and reaching the final of Euro 2008, it has gone rather stale of late.

It is, therefore, no real surprise to see him stepping aside from his role after the tournament. He’ll be replaced by his former assistant Hansi Flick, who has become far better known for guiding Bayern Munich to the treble last season and a further Bundesliga title before leaving the Allianz Arena at the end of this campaign.

 

What about the team?

Football goes in cycles. Spain have found that out the hard way and so have France. Although Germany have not quite been able to match their success over recent years, it became apparent that change was needed after they were knocked out of thegermany euro 2020 preview group stages as defending champions at the World Cup in 2018. A disappointing first UEFA Nations League campaign followed, before they regained some dominance by topping their qualification group for this tournament ahead of the Netherlands.

There are some good, young players in Low’s 26-man squad, including Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz, as well as English born Jamal Musiala but the big news is the inclusion of both Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels. Low made it clear to both he wouldn’t pick them back in 2019, so having them back could be a risk. Germany don’t quite seem to have that air of invincibility and they could struggle again but be wary of completely writing them off.

 

Star man

One experienced head who managed to resist the cull was the Bayern goalkeeper. Manuel Neuer is still among the best in the world and can prove very difficult to breach at times between the sticks. He sets the tone for Germany’s high energy style of play with his ability to bring the ball out from the back.

While Musiala is an exciting prospect, Gnabry can have an impact and the likes of Havertz and Leroy Sane scramble to find any sort of form, Neuer remains Germany’s most dependable player.

 

Fixtures

Tuesday 15th June – Hungary vs. Portugal (17:00, Budapest)

Tuesday 15th June – France vs. Germany (18:00, Munich)

Saturday 19th June – Hungary vs. France (14:00, Budapest)

Saturday 19th June – Portugal vs. Germany (17:00, Munich)

Wednesday 23rd June – Portugal vs. France (20:00, Budapest)

Wednesday 23rd June – Germany vs. Hungary (20:00, Munich)

 

Prediction

  1. France
  2. Portugal
  3. Germany
  4. Hungary

 

Euro 2020 Predictions

 

Who will win Euro 2020?

GR – France. In much the same way Spain dominated international football for a period, it feels like this is Les Blues’ opportunity to do the same.

HDC – Also has to be France. Les Bleus have the best squad and know how to navigate tournaments. Their squad is fresh and, provided Karim Benzema doesn’t derail the side – his inclusion is risky — they’ll add another title.

EA – France are worthy favourites and England’s home advantage can’t be understated but I’ve fancied Portugal for the last two years and am not changing my mind now. They have an outstanding squad and a perfect mixture of youth and experience. Plus, Ronaldo.

 

Who will they beat in the final?

HDC – In a rerun of the final 21 years ago, France will beat Italy. After a torrid few years, Roberto Mancini has built an exciting squad with the Azzurri, who won every game in qualification.

EA – I’ll go for England who have a great squad and the backing of a live crowd. They’ll go one better than the Russia World Cup and Euro 96 but still not quite over the line.

GR – This is England’s best chance of winning a major tournament in a generation but their relative weakness at the back will stop them going all the way.

 

Who will win the Golden Boot?

EA – Backing up my Portugal prediction, I’ll take Cristiano Ronaldo at the ripe old age of 36. England’s record goalscorer is Wayne Rooney with 53, Ronaldo had an absurd 103 goals for Portugal. Even at his age, he’s still ridiculously good and arguably the best big game player ever.

GR – Harry Kane. The 27-year-old is fully fit for a major tournament and has looked sharp all season. He will deliver the goals for England.

HDC – It’s got to be Harry Kane. The World Cup Golden Boot winner had it sewn up in the group stage, and there is scope for him to repeat the trick this summer.

 

Name a big country who will underperform…

GR – Germany. Again. They haven’t learned the lessons of the 2018 World Cup and are struggling to transition into a new generation.

HDC – There could be a hangover from the World Cup for Germany. Too many players are out of form and there is a feeling that change can’t come soon enough.

EA – I’m going for the favourites, France. One thing I’ve learnt is that whenever you think you can trust France in a big tournament, they have a meltdown. They have an absolutely ridiculous squad but I reckon the controversial inclusion of Karim Benzema could be trouble.

 

And an outsider who could surprise people…

HDC – Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine side are unlikely to challenge overall but they are my pick to get out of their group and have the quality in midfield to bloody a few noses.

EA – I reckon that Russia could come through a weak group to qualify for the last 16. They finished third in 2008, knocked out Spain in 2018 and I think they have a real talent in Aleksandr Golovin.

GR – While they have lost momentum in recent months, the qualifying form of Turkey hints at a good team that could make their mark this summer.

 


 

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