The Covid-19 pandemic played havoc with the 2020 sporting calendar and there are few bigger examples than Euro 2020. The tournament was one of the pandemic’s early casualties, but thankfully, a year later, we will be able to see Europe’s finest demonstrate their skills. With just a year to go before the 2022 World Cup, this tournament will be an interesting snapshot of the world soccer pecking order.
A unique tournament
Euro 2020 will be a unique edition of the European Championships, and not only because it will be held a year after it was scheduled! The tournament had already broken with tradition in order to celebrate what was to be its 60th anniversary. This edition will feature matches played in a number of nations around Europe, with the final scheduled to be held at Wembley on July 11th. You may get here also on How to watch Euro 2020 live streaming on TV.
The result is that home advantage will be a significant factor in this tournament, with a number of teams due to play one or more of their matches in front of their home crowd. This won’t quite make Euro 2020 the soccer equivalent of a game of roulette — for that form of entertainment, you can click here — but it will add an element of uncertainty to proceedings, with some teams getting a clear advantage, most notably, England.
England and France are the co-favorites at this stage, and while France has the better record, Gareth Southgate’s England will have the edge of playing all three of their group games at home. Indeed, if they can top their Group, which also includes Croatia, Scotland, and the Czech Republic, they would only be scheduled to play outside London once on the way to the final.
Southgate has certainly been able to assemble an exciting squad of young talent, which is considerably better on paper than the squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. However, inexperience combined with the fact that Southgate doesn’t know his best team going into the tournament could mean that England team could fall short this time.
There are no such worries for France. The World Cup holders have the strongest squad in the tournament. Packed with talent and experience, they have been drawn in a tough Group along with Portugal and Germany, so they will need to be at their best from the start.
How much longer before Belgium claims a major trophy? Under Roberto Martinez, they have become a major force in world soccer and reached the semi-finals in 2018. They won all ten games in their qualifying campaign and are blessed with a wealth of attacking riches, though they have looked a little shaky defensively in recent games.
Germany will be hoping to put their miserable 2018 World Cup campaign behind them, and manager Joachim Low has successfully refreshed the side after that experience. They are blessed with pace and skill upfront in abundance but have shown flashes of vulnerability and have been drawn in the aforementioned difficult Group along with France and Portugal.
Spain is without some significant figures after a controversial squad selection from manager Luis Enrique. However, with significant depth of talent, they are still one of the leading contenders for glory. The question remains, however, whether Enrique knows his best team.
The dark horses
If the main contenders slip up, there are a trio of dark horses who could prove dangerous. Italy has been resurgent under Roberto Mancini after their failure to qualify for the last World Cup, although this tournament may come a little too soon for them.
The Netherlands has a strong team, although they will miss Virgil van Dijk, but perhaps the likeliest of these contenders is Portugal. The reigning European champions still have the great Ronaldo, who is now supported by a host of aggressive, attack-minded teammates. If they can get out of the Group in first or second place, they cannot be written off.
Upsets are not unknown in this tournament. Denmark famously won it in 1992, after originally failing to qualify and then being called up as a last-minute replacement for Yugoslavia. There was an even bigger shock in 2004 when Greece battled its way to triumph against all the odds. Denmark is back again, with a well-organized side, while Russia, Switzerland, Austria, and Croatia will all be hopeful, and there will be plenty of interest in debutants Finland and North Macedonia.
This promises to be a wide-open tournament, and the tough draw has further leveled the playing field by opening the possibility of France, Germany, or Portugal exiting in the first round. England is likely to be a strong contender, but Belgium may finally be able to claim a major trophy.