As we count down to Friday June 11th and beginning of the tournament, welcome to a completely unbiased, non patriotic attempt to predict the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament.
On a side note why is it still called Euro 2020 rather than 2021, like the last thing I want to be reminded of during the tournament was how much of a train wreck 2020 was, and that it cancelled this quadrennial footballing tournament where we England most definitely would have brought it home. Did all the marketing and advertising money just go to lining the pockets of officials and sponsors so they couldn’t afford to properly change it, I wouldn’t know nor do I want to go fully libellous trying to found out…
For clarification I’ll be filling out the official tournament bracket on the website, I invite you to play along and send me your own predictions in the replies down below.
Group A: Switzerland, Turkey, Wales, and Italy
Italy, just off the face of it, are the clear favourites to win this Group, and likely to get 7-9 points: strong qualifying, don’t believe they lost at all, no one particularly spectacular in Roberto Mancini’s side, but the entire squad is head and shoulders above the rest of Group A’s.
Can we just talk about Sensi for a second, talented young midfielder from Inter Milan, saw a lot of people question why he got called up to the squad in the first place because he barely features for the now Scudetto holders, and is barely match fit, Yeah at the time of recording he’s got injured in training and is expected to drop out from the squad, I’m not even Italian and I reckon I would have had a better Chance of making that first game against Turkey than Sensi did.
I’ve Seen alot of hype behind Turkey in recent weeks, and that’s in more than just the Twitter replies section. Strong young defence of Soyuncu, Demiral, among others like Celik and Kabak from Lille and Schalke respectively. really good qualifying, finishing just behind France in their Group, then you get to the attack and their whole tournament depends on Burak Yilmaz: fresh off helping Lille win Ligue 1, he’s the focal point of the team isn’t he. A lot of the teams in the Euros, like Finland like Poland, like North Macedonia, their entire tournament and all their prospects hinge on the success of the striker, I know the old saying goes that attack wins you games, defence wins you titles, but for Turkey, it’s probably best to emphasise the former right now.
Wales’ run in 2016 was spectacular wasn’t it, peaking at Hal Robson Kanu’s goal against Belgium, it’s unlikely they’re gonna be able to repeat that run to the semi finals this time around. Gareth Bale loves a big game, and managed to get an impressive 11 goals in the Prem this season, thats the same as Sadio Mane, legend of these British Isles that man
Switzerland are one of those sort of yoyo teams when it comes to international performances, they could grab a win against anybody, and have a great performance in the process, form is on their side as they won their Group in qualifying, and the beautiful man himself Fabian Schar is in defence, him and Elvedi from Monchengladbach, that’s a nice little cb partnership if i dont say so myself. but you’d never say your dark horses for Switzerland. Speaking of, who do we say are dark horses nowadays, given the recent success of your traditional dark horses Belgium and Croatia. England are too good on paper to be dark horses, maybe someone like Ukraine, who’ll I’ll talk about in a short while, I’ve got high hopes for them.
Italy top the Group convincingly, Swiss with their recent tournament experience come 2nd. I fancy Turkey to finish 3rd and qualify via being one of the best ranked 3rd place teams, then Wales unfortunately in 4th purely because of their competition.
Italy 1st, Switzerland 2nd, Turkey 3rd, Wales 4th
Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium and Russia
Right away, there’s no doubting who’s topping the Group: Belgium, perfect record in qualifying, probably the most dangerous side in the entire competition, purely for how well Romelu Lukaku has been playing these last two seasons. KDB is a threat as always, it’s just the defence that lets Belgium down. A properly stubborn defence like we saw in that World Cup defeat against France will be a pain for them to overcome, but Belgium are one of the favourites to win the entire competition for a reason, this is the last chance for their golden generation, winning is imperative for the World number 1.
Finland ,unfortunately, are gonna finish last. It was a miracle they even qualified for this: their first ever major international competition. There’s gonna be no Pukki party this summer, maybe come August and September when Norwich play again in the Premier League, him and Bayer Leverkusen’s Lukas Hradecky are the ones to watch for Finland.
So 2nd and 3rd ultimately come down to Russia and Denmark. Both had a really strong world cup, both funnily enough knocked out by Croatia. Arguments for Russia, god as a journalist I feel weird saying that, Miranchuk and Golovin are a delightful spark in the midfield, but they’re just a couple of standouts in the much weaker team of the two. Denmark are ranked 10th in the world, but may be let down by the inconsistencies of their attackers in Poulsen and Braithwaite, it’s an absolute coin flip, but logic would indicate Denmark prevail, when really it’s gonna be down to who doesn’t lose as badly to Belgium/who beats Finland by a greater margin
Belgium 1st, Denmark 2nd, Russia 3rd, Finland 4th
Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia.
On paper, probably the weakest Group in the competition, but one I’m predicting to be full of surprises. Netherlands haven’t looked too impressive since Van Dijk’s injury and Ronald Koeman’s departure for Barcelona, yeah they have a nice varied attack with Depay, Wijnaldum, Boadu, and Weghorst, but the rest of the team isn’t as consistent for the Oranje.
Austria meanwhile endured a torrid time in the last Euros, coming last in their Group including Portugal, Hungary, and Iceland. It’s looking increasingly likely they’re in for a similar experience this time around. Marquee player David Alaba will be looking to impress ahead of his move to Real Madrid, and Marcel Sabitzer can produce some moments of magic in the spine of the team. But besides the pair and the likes of Hinteregger and an aging Arnautovic, Austria are likely to crash out.
Macedonia, besides Finland, are probably the weakest team in the entire competition. Goran Pandev is an absolute legend to the Mediterranean country and in the Serie A, and like I alluded to with strikers such as Teemu Pukki and nations like Finland, he’s gonna be the deciding factor in who gets 3rd and who gets 4th in the Group. Sadly, they have almost no chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Ukraine are my dark horses for Euro 2020, as I alluded to before, some great attackers in Yaremchuk and Tysgankov, and some ever reliable players in Zinchenko, Stepanenko, and Atalanta’s Malinovskyi being one of Andriy Shevchenko’s personal favourites. In qualifying and friendlies they’ve beat the likes of Spain and Portugal, and looked decent against France and Germany, they’re a surprise package who everyone should be keeping an eye on.
England completely collapsed last Euros against Iceland, and I feel Netherlands will meet the same fate: leaderless on the pitch without Strootman, Babel, and Van Dijk (though I could see De Ligt stepping up in their absence) they’ll scrape through automatically, but will likely meet their end far earlier than they will have hoped.
Ukraine 1st, Netherlands 2nd, Austria 3rd, Macedonia 4th
No surprises with Group D: it’s quite simply…coming home, 25 years after the heart break of Euro 96 at the hands of Germany in our own backyard, the Euros has returned to English soil, and England will be considered a failure if they don’t make at least the semi finals, let’s just hope we don’t find Gareth Southgate in another penalty shootout scenario with the Germans in the semis again, cos it went so well last time…
This is likely one of the last two chances at international silverware for much of this aging Croatia side: Modric, Vida, Lovren, Perisic are all north of 30 now, and although their exist some players like Pasalic, Kovacic, and Kramaric in their prime, the Croats still rely on some of the old guard to carry them through.
Scotland have made a return to the international scene after their dramatic penalty shootout win over Serbia a few months ago. Although their strength is mainly in defence with the likes of Robertson, Tierney, McTominay and Hanley, Southampton forward Che Adams is a wonderful addition to the attack after he switched allegiances from England, and already opened his Scotland account in the games preceding the tournament.
And then there’s the Czech Republic. We were all entertained by Tomas Soucek’s goalscoring antics this past season, and Vladimir Coufal has won the hearts of West Ham fans as one of the best RBs in the Premier League. But getting the ball in the back of the net looks to have been an issue in qualifying, and their attack pales vastly in comparison to their fellow teams in Group D.
There may be some tactical results from 1st or 2nd in this Group, because much like England’s Group at the 2018 World Cup, 1st place had a harder route to the final than 2nd place: there’s a very good chance 1st place in Group D will face the runner up of Group F, and fans shouldn’t care if it’s at Wembley, that’s an incredibly tough game for the round of 16. It’s also interesting to think that the only reason Southgate is still in the England job was the 2nd place finish in their World Cup Group: England got a far easier route than 1st place Belgium, and there’s no telling if England would even have beat Japan and Brazil before inevitably falling to France in the semis.
Okay that’s enough pessimism about England’s chances for one article.
England 1st, Croatia 2nd, Scotland 3rd, Czech Republic 4th
Group E: former winners Spain clashing with Sweden, Slovakia, and Poland. Thank you Poland for not beginning with the letter S as well. It’s rather surreal that Robert Lewandowski, arguably the best player in the world (or at least best European player) may once exit an international tournament before the knockout stage.
Spain’s squad has been thrown into disarray, with Sergio Busquets testing positive has forced much of the squad into isolation, there’s only 24 squad members out of the 26 they were allowed to take (Raul Albiol and Kepa may or may not be joining the squad, ahead of Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernandez, and Mario Hermoso) and a lack of a truly clinical world class attacker puts Spain on par with the likes of the Netherlands in my eyes: a usually big name with very little chance of winning the entire competition.
Sweden have Emil Krafth, so their chances of winning drastically went down the moment he was included. Alexander Isak has been great for Sociedad this season, and he’s a favourite of mine to scoop the Golden Boot just behind Lukaku and Kane. A recent positive Covid test has ruled out star youngster Dejan Kulusevski, who had really been building up some momentum towards the end of the season for Juventus.
Slovakia are a little side who could easily snatch points off the other teams in this Group. The ever-underrated Martin Dubravka in net with the formidable Skriniar in front of him could be a difficult defence to beat. The rest of the team is lacklustre on paper, even with Napoli legend and future Trabsponzor signing Marek Hamsik in the midfield. The lack of an attacking presence will likely see them rooted to the bottom of Group E.
Spain 1st, just, Poland 2nd, Sweden 3rd, Slovakia 4th, just don’t feel Slovakia have the goals in them
And now the proverbial Group of Death: World Champions France, Euro and Nations League champions Portugal, the ever formidable Germany…and Hungary. Sorry Hungary but you were decent in the 1950s with Puskas, but it’s gonna be more than Das Miracle Von Bern if Hungary qualifies from this Group. I see this coming down to a rock/paper/scissors scenario, where the big 3 teams each exchange wins and it all comes down to who performs the best against the Szosbalai-less Hungarians.
France are the World Champions for a reason, and have the strongest squad in the entire competition. Runners up and Champions in their last two major international competitions, all logic would indicate they finish top of the Group. Remember, N’golo Kante and Kylian Mbappe need this tournament win to strengthen their Ballon D’or shouts against Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either man scoop the Golden Ball award.
Germany and Portugal are so incredibly even: at the time of writing Germany have just won 7-1 against Latvia, and it looks like the reintroduction of Hummels and Muller to the side will boost their performances. They also have arguably the best midfield trio in the world too with Gundogan, Kimmich and Goretzka. But then in comparison, Portugal are EURO and Nations League Champions for a reason. They were unlucky to lose to Uruguay at the World Cup. But a decent qualifying campaign, and the fact they have the likes of Ronaldo, Felix, Jota, and Bruno Fernandes in the attack makes them one of the favourites not only to progress, but if they were in any other Group, I would fancy them to come top of said Group and have a deep run in the competition.
France 1st, Portugal 2nd Germany 3rd, Hungary 4th.
For the sake of clarity I’ve just guessed who I feel will come where in the 3rd placed rankings based off goal difference, and I’ve gone with Germany, Sweden, Turkey, and Scotland, henceforth I feel Russia and Austria will also depart the Euros at the Group Stage.
My Other Predictions
Tournament Winner: Belgium
Golden Boot: Bruno Fernandes
Golden Ball: Romelu Lukaku
Best Young Player: Jude Bellingham
Dark Horse: Ukraine
Most Disappointing: Netherlands