24 Teams in 2020 Euros: Which Are The Favourites?
Since 2004, when Greece won the tournament, only Spain (twice)and Portugal have lifted the title.
After a year of waiting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 European Championships is going to kick off on 11 June in Rome with Italy playing Turkey. Since 2004, when Greece surprised everyone and won the tournament, only Spain (twice) and Portugal have lifted the title. Led by the talismanic forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal come into the tournament as the defending champions, having won in 2016 at the expense of current world champions France.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, it will be played in 11 venues with 24 teams crisscrossing the continent in the battle to be crowned Europe’s best men’s football team.
While former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes France are the outright favourites to win the title and emulate their World Cup-Euro double from 1998-2000, the likes of England, Germany and Portugal cannot be ruled out from the conversation. And of course, there’s also Belgium, the world number 1 side, who have in their ranks Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, both of whom have had fantastic domestic seasons for their clubs. Traditional powerhouses Italy and Spain might not be considered yet among the top 4 but are more than capable of springing a few surprises.
Here’s a look at the top contenders in the battle for the Henri Delaunay Trophy, which will be presented to the winners at Wembley in London in a month’s time.
World Champions for the second time in 2018, the Didier Deschamps side is stacked with quality in every department, and it is safe to say that they are spoilt for choice.
Despite the quality, France’s lack of dazzling play has been questioned, however Deschamps’ side have responded with only one defeat in 13 games since qualify for the Euros. The already formidable side has been boosted by the return of Karim Benzema, who had been out of the national team since October 2015 because of his alleged involvement in a sex-tape blackmail case, which he denies.
As an in-form Benzema adds more bite and pace to the terrifying attack which comprises Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, the team’s biggest strength is their defensive solidity, with Paul Pogba and N Golo Kante protecting the backline. France will depend on well worked transitions and pace in attack.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan, Steve Mandanda
Defenders: Lucas Digne, Leo Dubois, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Jules Kounde, Clement Lenglet, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma
Midfielders: Kingsley Coman, N’Golo Kante, Thomas Lemar, Paul Pogba , Adrien Rabiot, Moussa Sissoko, Corentin Tolisso
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder, Karim Benzema, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Marcus Thuram
Coached by Gareth Southgate, England, after quite a while had a good international tournament at the World Cup, finishing 4th.
A younger, talented and more explosive squad is at Southgate’s disposal for the Euros and much like France, they too are spoilt for choice, at least in attack. For England, striking the right balance will be as important as ensuring that their shaky defense doesn’t falter. Jordan Pickford can be erratic and Harry Maguire’s injury is a source of concern as well.
Despite all the excitement about the attacking riches in Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane, the coach’s biggest worry will be his defense as they look to win their first trophy since 1966.
Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Philips are likely to marshal the midfield which also boasts of the very influential Jack Grealish.
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford
Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ben White
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice
Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish
Defending champions and led by Ronaldo, who’s love for trophies is very well documented.
One of the newest entrants into the superpower club in European football, Portugal have produced some fabulous players and coaches, with great regularity in recent years.
Portugal, who have been drawn in a group with France, Germany and Hungary, are no more Ronaldo plus ten players. Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva are superb as attackers while they haven’t lost any of their defensive solidity which coach Fernando Santos has drilled into them. While the flair players do their thing, Portugal will bank on their midfielder William Carvalho and defenders Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo to help marshal the defensive forces with Rui Patricio under the sticks.
Portugal waited till 2016 to win their first international trophy and won the Nations League after that as well, giving their side much needed experience in winning tournaments.
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Rui Patricio, Rui Silva
Defenders: Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro, Nuno Mendes, Pepe, Nelson Semedo
Midfielders: William Carvalho, Danilo, Bruno Fernandes, Goncalo Guedes, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Sergio Oliveira, Joao Palhinha, Pote, Renato Sanches, Bernardo Silva
Forwards: Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva, Rafa Silva
After a disappointing World Cup in 2018, Germany, world champions in 2014, have left no stone unturned in ensuring that they’re in better health at the Euros.
Joachim Löw brought back Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels after announcing they would not play for Germany in the aftermath of Russia, saying that his decisions were centered around doing well at the Euros.
While Muller, back in-form adds to the attack, Hummels and Rudiger stabilize a shaky defense ahead of Manuel Neuer, still among the most important figures in the German team.
Germany’s biggest problems in Russia were in midfield as the ploy to bank on Sami Khedira’s ageing legs did not work out. The likes of Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gündogan and Kai Havertz, however will have the support of Joshua Kimmich, who has gone from strength to strength in recent years. And then there are also the likes of Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, who have a fair amount of pace to make the attack deadlier.
This is Low’s last tournament as Germany manager and he will no doubt want to go out on a high. Can the Germans do what they’re known best for – work like clockwork?
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Bernd Leno, Kevin Trapp
Defenders: Emre Can, Matthias Ginter, Robin Gosens, Christian Gunter, Marcel Halstenberg, Mats Hummels, Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Antonio Rudiger, Niklas Sule
Midfielders: Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Jonas Hofmann, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Jamal Musiala, Florian Neuhaus, Leroy Sane
Forwards: Kai Havertz, Thomas Muller, Kevin Volland, Timo Werner
Ranked 1 in the world currently, Belgium’s golden generation made qualification look like a piece of cake winning all 10 games, scoring 40 goals and conceding 3. Belgium will play the same 3-4-3 system they have been using for the past five years under Roberto Martínez with one more defensive-minded wing-back on the right and an attacking midfielder in that role on the left.
Belgium’s biggest worries coming into the tournament are Eden Hazard’s form, Kevin de Bruyne’s face injury and the recovery for Alex Witsel, who tore an achilles tendon in January. Witsel is Martinez’s go to man and extremely important to the team in this tournament in the middle of the park as he adds depth in defense and attack – especially given the ages of the three main defenders in Toby Alderweireld (32), Jan Vertonghen (34) and Thomas Vermaelen (35).
Add to that the huge presence of Romelu Lukaku, who scored 24 goals and assisted 11 times in Inter Milan’s title winning campaign in Italy, Martinez has an able squad, if fit.
In 2016, Belgium made the quarters and in the World Cup in Russia they finished 3rd, can the golden generation take it a step further?
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Timothy Castagne, Jason Denayer, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen
Midfielders: Nacer Chadli, Yannick Carrasco, Kevin De Bruyne, Leander Dendoncker, Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, Dennis Praet, Youri Tielemans, Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Jeremy Doku, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard
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