At first glance, it would seem that Italy can’t quite muster the star quality from previous years and tournaments. But you should never be fooled by the ‘Gli Azurri’ - a classic tournament team that always delivers on the big stage and also won all of their matches during the EURO 2020 qualification. Roberto Mancini’s troops are especially renowned for their defensive capabilities and this was proven yet again when Italy only conceded 4 goals in the qualifiers.
However, there is much more to Italy than the stereotypical (primarily foreign) association of the Italian ‘Catenaccio’ style relying heavily on a defensive structure. The tactical mastermind Mancini has certainly managed to lift the Italian team out of misery from the disastrous miss for the World Cup 2018, and he has now introduced a style of play based on attacking football, often in a more fluent 4-3-3 formation, focusing on counter-pressing and ball possession as well as flair, speed and technique.
At EURO 2020, it will definitely be exciting to watch how the backbone of the squad with experienced players such as Chiellini, Bonucci, Insigne, Jorginho, Verratti and Immobile are going to link up with the new generation of top-prospects, Nicoló Zaniolo, Sandro Tonali, Nicolò Barella and Federico Chiesa, featuring this ‘re-defined’ Italian style of play.
Key player: Ciro Immobile
The striker with a quick pace, as well as an incredible attacking movement, was absolutely dominant in Serie A last season with a goal tally of 36, and he will most likely also be among the top goalscorers in the league this season as well. At an international level, he hasn’t quite found the same success yet, but this could very well be Immobile’s time to shine.
How will Italy line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Donnarumma, RB: Di Lorenzo, CB: Acerbi, CB: Bonucci, LB: Spinazzola, CM: Verratti, CM: Jorginho, CM: Barella, RW: Chiesa, LW: Insigne, FW: Immobile
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Turkey has a proud history when it comes to international championships (who doesn’t remember the gifted Turkey-side claiming bronze in the 2002 World Cup?).
Today’s squad, managed by the experienced Şenol Güneş, definitely looks talented as well - especially due to an impressive list of young names at the back. Çağlar Söyüncü from Leicester stands out as a household name for most Premier League fans, but also Serie A-capacities such as Merih Demiral and Mert Çetin looks really interesting.
The AC Milan star, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, is expected to become the main offensive driving force from his position in midfield alongside the flamboyant Cengiz Ünder and Yusuf Yazıcı, while it’s up to the reliable and experienced target man Burak Yilmaz as well as Cenk Tosun to provide the necessary goals. It will be interesting to see if the young and talented Turkey squad is up for the task ahead!
Key player: Hakan Çalhanoğlu
Çalhanoğlu is the one to orchestrate the Turkish offensive. He is one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe at the moment due to his immense creativity, technical skills and passing game. He is also a gifted set-piece specialist, capable of bending the ball into the back of the net, whenever he sees an opportunity.
How will Turkey line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Günok, RB: Nazım Sangaré, CB: Söyüncü, CB: Demiral, LB: Erkin, CM: Tufan, CM: Yazıcı, RW: Kahveci, AM: Çalhanoğlu, LW: Ünder, FW: Tosun
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The always sturdy Swiss team has an unlucky tendency to fall short in the Round of 16, but Bosnian-Swiss head coach, Vladimir Petković, will do anything he can in order to progress further in the EURO 2020. The foundation of the team consists of a generation of players who have played together for many years and, in consequence, know each other very well on the pitch. Petković has a lot of quality available all around the team, starting off with Yann Sommer as a strong and experienced keeper in the back. In front of him is a strong generation of young defenders playing in the German Bundesliga such as Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji and Kevin Mbabu.
The Swiss midfield is guarded by captain Granit Xhaka and the powerful Gladbach-dynamo, Dennis Zakaria. Switzerland will have to look to star player Xherdan Shaqiri as well as Atalanta-man Remo Freuler regarding the creative quality when in possession of the ball. The frontline of the attack is led by experienced target man Haris Seferovic, who is still banging in goals for Benfica, and he is backed up by the fast-paced Breel Embolo as well as the solid Admir Mehmedi.
Key player: Xherdan Shaqiri
At his best, Shaqiri is almost unplayable. He is an unpredictable and dynamic player with great vision, who also has been an important joker during Liverpool’s successful campaign. Now, he has the chance to step up at international level and help secure Switzerland that coveted spot in the EURO 2020 quarterfinal.
How will Switzerland line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Sommer, CB: Elvedi, CB: Akanji, CB: Rodriquez, CM: Xhaka, CM: Zakaria,
RM: Fernandes, LM: Freuler, AM: Shaqiri, FW: Seferovic, FW: Embolo
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The semifinalists from 2016 will do anything in their power to surprise us once again. Ryan Giggs’ team boasts a lot of quality combined with an elite-mentality and willpower - as we also saw 5 years ago. Many of the players from back then, including most-capped Chris Gunter, Ben Davies and striker Hal-Robson Kanu are still featuring on the national team.
A new generation of exciting young prospects, such as Daniel James, David Brooks, Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon and Neco Williams, has now found their way onto the team. However, the team’s star players, and probably still the main key to Welsh success, are the experienced and dynamic duo of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, who peaked during the EURO 2016 campaign. Even though neither of the two is currently at the same level as they were back then, they are still top-level players able to determine the outcome of football matches. Especially Bale is experiencing somewhat of a revival these days.
Key player: Gareth Bale
The speedy Welshman has found his feet again on loan at Tottenham and he is undoubtedly the team talisman and spearhead of the Welsh offensive.
How will Wales line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Ward, CB: Mepham, CB: Rodon, CB: Davies, RWB: N. Williams, LWB: Norrington-Davies, CM: Ampadu, CM: Ramsey, FW: James, FW: Brooks, FW: Bale
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Group A fixtures:
11/6: Turkey vs Italy; Kick-off 8pm (Rome)
12/6: Wales vs Switzerland; Kick-off 2pm (Baku)
16/6: Turkey vs Wales: Kick-off 5pm (Baku)
16/6: Italy vs Switzerland; Kick-off 8pm (Rome)
20/6: Italy vs Wales; Kick-off 5pm (Rome)
20/6: Switzerland vs Turkey; Kick-off 5pm (Baku)
Which teams will advance from Group A?
The group favourites from Italy are likely to make it to the round of 16. We predict that Turkey will join them.
We are looking forward to seeing one of Europe’s major football powerhouses going all in to redeem the loss in the 2018 World Cup semifinal and instead try their best to claim the title as European Champions. The odds of this happening is also on the low-side, as the team is overflowing with quality and also went 10 for 10 in the EURO qualifiers. Head coach since 2016, Roberto Martinez, has a couple of luxury problems picking his XI, but the choice of Thibaut Courtois as starting GK is not one of them. The defence is still bolstered by the old Ajax-talents, Jan Vertongen and Toby Alderweireld. The pair will be accompanied by defenders such as Jason Denayer, Thomas Meunier and Timothy Castagne.
Regarding midfield, we will have to look at the Premier League, especially Leicester City, who can boast of having both Youri Tielemans and Dennis Praet playing for the club. The star of the midfield is, without any shred of doubt, Kevin De Bruyne, and he will probably play alongside the reliable box-to-box player Axel Witsel in the centre. The offensive line consists of Hazard-brothers, Eden and Thorgan, as well as the still going strong Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco and of course the powerful Romelu Lukaku, who is glowing at the moment. If Lukaku can’t manage to find the back of the net, then Martinez also has Crystal Palace striker Michy Batshuayi at his disposal - renowned for scoring a lot of international goals.
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
You could go for Lukaku here as the highlighted profile, but Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the best midfielder in the world at the moment and will be key for Belgium to succeed. Enough said.
How will Belgium line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Courtois, CB: Alderweireld, CB: Denayer, CB: Vertonghen, RWB: Castagne, LWB: T. Hazard, CM: Witsel, CM: De Bruyne, CM: Tielemans, AM: E. Hazard, FW: Lukaku
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The Russian team, who did well during the World Cup 2018 at home, will have to place their trust on a bunch of new players. CSKA Moscow legends such as Igor Akinfeev and Sergei Ignashevich are gone, with only the ageless Yuri Zhirkov remaining as the grand old man.
Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has had some difficulties in replacing former captain, Igor Akinfeev. It will probably be the nationalized Lokomotiv Moscow-keeper, Guilherme, who will take charge of the goalkeeper position. The defence looks decent with either Mario Fernandes, Georgi Dzhikiya, Roman Neustädter, Fyodor Kudryashov, Igor Smolnikov and Yury Zhirkov competing for a place in the starting XI. One of the key players from 2018, Roman Zobnin, are likely to control the central midfield alongside Magomed Ozdoyev, Yuri Gazinsky or Daler Kuzyayev.
Things are really starting to look interesting when we take a closer look at Russia’s offensive capabilities. One of the best Russian players 3 years ago, current Valencia-wing Denis Cherysyev, will partner up with the likes of Aleksei Ionov and Alan Dzagoev as well as the technically gifted Aleksandr Golovin, who made his breakthrough in WC 2018. Aleksei Miranchuk, who has been a fine asset to Atalanta since his move from Lokomotiv, is also going to be an interesting player to watch in action. Target man and team captain, Artem Dzyuba, completes the frontline.
Key player: Artem Dzyuba
The prolific striker is looking to use his physique and aerial abilities as a one-man attacking army for Russia ready to make use of the many crosses. He finished as top scorer in Group I with 9 goals in the qualifiers ahead of Lukaku and Eden Hazard, and he is indeed an intimidating figure for every defence standing 6 ft. 5 in. tall with a massive muscular presence.
How will Russia line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Guilherme, RB: Fernandes, CB: Dzhikiya, CB: Neustädter, LB: Zhirkov, CM: Zobnin, CM: Ozdoyev, RW: Miranchuk, AM: Golovin, LW: Cheryshev, FW: Dzyuba
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Denmark will try to achieve the impossible like back in 1992 when the national team was crowned as European Champions - much to every football fan’s huge surprise. The recently appointed head coach, Kasper Hjulmand, took over from Åge Hareide, who managed to stabilize the national team in certain areas. Now, Hjulmand will do everything in his power to develop the team further, focusing more heavily on offensive tactics as well as retaining ball possession.
If we take a look at the Danish players at Hjulmands disposal, Kasper Schmeichel is the undisputed first-choice between the sticks. A solid central defence consisting of Simon Kjær and PL-defenders Andreas Christensen or Jannik Vestergaard will try to keep the opponents at bay. The wingback-positions will be filled out by either Joakim Mæhle, Daniel Wass, Robert Skov or Jens Stryger Larsen.
The central midfield is formed by the versatile and energetic box-to-box duo, Pierre Emil-Højbjerg and Thomas Delaney, with especially the former displaying his abilities in Tottenham at the moment. In front of them is Christian Eriksen, still the star player and main offensive conductor of the team. The attacking line is a bit of a question mark to some extent, but we are most likely to see the trio of Yussuf Poulsen, Martin Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg start and hopefully succeed in changing the common conception that Denmark’s attack is the main weak spot for the team.
Key player: Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel has demonstrated for several years that he is a world-class keeper. Perhaps not as prolific as his father but definitely one of the greatest Danish goalkeepers in history. Denmark depends on his reflexes and leadership and he has to perform at his best in order for the team to claim further advancement into the knockout phase.
How will Denmark line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Schmeichel, RB: Mæhle, CB: Kjær, CB: Christensen, LB: Skov, CM: Delaney, CM: Højbjerg, AM: Eriksen, FW: Braithwaite, FW: Poulsen, FW: Dolberg
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The time has finally come. The former school teacher Markku Kanerva and his Finland national team fulfilled the football dreams of a nation when they managed to qualify for the EURO 2020 ahead of nations such as Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group J. Now, it will be interesting to see if the hard-working Finnish team has a chance of causing yet another surprise in their first international tournament ever.
The team definitely has a lot of interesting players. Leverkusen-keeper Lukas Hradecky is the obvious choice in goal and in front of him is a central defence consisting of Paulus Arajuuri and Jona Toivio. Jere Uronen and Jukka Raitala are likely to fill out the wingback positions. Captain Tim Sparv is set to take control of the midfield next to Rangers’ Glen Kamara with Frederik Jensen, Rasmus Schüller, Robin Lod, Joni Kauko and Robert Taylor competing for the remaining spots. Up in front is the main goal-getter Teemu Pukki assisted by Joel Pohjanpalo.
Key player: Teemu Pukki
Pukki was an absolutely vital part of the success in the qualifiers, and it is mostly due to his goalscoring exploits that Finland was able to write national football history. The former Schalke and Brøndby-poacher, who also made a name for himself in last year’s Premier League playing for Norwich, relies on his speed and clinical finishes.
How will Finland line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Hradecky, RB: Raitala, CB: Toivio, CB: Arajuuri, LB: Uronen, CM: Sparv, CM: Kamara, RM: Lod, LM: Taylor, FW: Pukki, FW: Pohjanpalo
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Group B fixtures:
12/6: Denmark vs Finland; Kick-off 5pm (Copenhagen)
12/6: Belgium vs Russia; Kick-off 9pm (St Petersburg)
16/6: Finland vs Russia: Kick-off 2pm (St Petersburg)
17/6: Denmark vs Belgium; Kick-off 5pm (Copenhagen)
21/6: Russia vs Denmark; Kick-off 8pm (Copenhagen)
21/6: Group B: Finland vs Belgium; Kick-off 8pm (St Petersburg)
Which teams will advance from Group B?
We bet that Belgium will take #1 spot in the group, while Denmark is going to edge out Russia in order to advance as runner-up.
A legendary football nation has its eyes on the prize. The 'Oranje', the team credited for re-inventing football in the 1970s, won the European Championship back in 1988. Besides this title, they have a knack of finishing as runners-up. This was also the case when the team reached the final of the Nations League last year before losing against Portugal.
The recently appointed head coach, Frank De Boer, will do all in his effort to prevent this from happening again. Similar to Italy, the Netherlands doesn’t quite have the same star quality at the moment as they had 5 or 10 years ago. However, a new ‘golden generation’ of Dutch players have burst onto the scene of European football in the last couple of years and they should be ready to step up.
Jasper Cillessen will most likely act as the experienced goalie and in front of him is a central defence out of this world, consisting of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt. The back positions are harder to pinpoint but chances are that either Daley Blind, Owen Wijndal, Hans Hateboer or Denzel Dumfries will fill out the positions. The engine room in central midfield is where Gio Wijnaldum, Marten de Roon, Donny van de Beek and Frenkie de Jong will flourish. A constellation of Memphis Depay, Steven Bergwijn and PSV-prospect Donyell Malen is likely to form the attacking line.
Key player: Virgil van Dijk
The Dutch football fans are really hoping to see a fit van Dijk feature at EURO 2020, as he is probably the best defender in world football.
How will the Netherlands line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Cillessen, RB: Dumfries, CB: van Dijk, CB: de Ligt, LB: Blind, CM: de Roon, CM: Wijnaldum, CM: de Jong, FW: Bergwijn, FW: Depay, FW: Malen
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Eight games, six wins and two draws were the results for Ukraine’s impressive qualifying campaign. The legendary player and coach, Andriy Shevchenko, has turned the Ukrainians into a strong collective unit based on a high level of creativity. Experienced goalkeeper and captain, Andriy Pyatov, is the obvious leader of the team and he played a major role in Ukraine’s almost flawless qualification. The defensive line is solid featuring players such as Oleksandr Karavayev, Eduard Sobol, Mykola Matvienko, Serhiy Kryvtsov and the young Vitaliy Mykolenko ready to seize his moment.
Besides Pyatov, the midfield seems like one of Ukraine’s strongest assets with an incredible depth. Defensive midfielder Taras Stepaneko is expected to lead the battle with his tackles, while Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Viktor Kovalenko or Viktor Tsyhankov adds a bit more offensive creativity as well as a lot of box-to-box runs. It will probably be up to the two second-most scoring Ukrainians (after Shevchenko of course), Hammers-wing Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka, to provide the assists for striker Roman Yaremchuk, who has been a solid goal-getter for Belgian side Gent for several seasons now.
Key player: Ruslan Malinovskyi
The energetic midfielder has been an important part of a well-playing Atalanta-squad with his continuous runs and huge versatility in the midfield position. He is also a set-piece specialist, producing a lot of assists as well as goals due to his immensely powerful shot.
How will Ukraine line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Pyatov, RB: Karavayev, CB: Matvienko, CB: Kryvtsov, LB: Sobol, DM: Stepanenko, CM: Zinchenko, CM: Malinovsky, RW: Marlos, LW: Yarmolenko, FW: Yaremchuk
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Throughout the last couple of years, Austria has developed a solid concept with an effective style of play similar to that of their Swiss neighbours. They breezed through the qualifiers for the World Cup back in 2018 but ended up with only a single point in a huge ‘golden generation’ disappointment. They were expected to have a bit of an easy ride in the EURO 2020 qualifiers, but it would soon turn out to become way more exciting than they hoped for. However, Austria achieved qualification and now stand a fair chance of further advancement from Group C.
Head coach Franco Foda has a lot of skilled players at his disposal. Heinz Lindner is the expected first choice for the GK position and the experienced defensive line consists of players such as Aleksandar Dragovic, Martin Hinteregger, Stefan Lainer and Andreas Ulmer. Star player David Alaba dominates the left side of the midfield and he is flanked by either Stefan Ilsanker or Florian Grillitsch alongside captain Julian Baumgartlinger in the central midfield positions, while the speedy Valentino Lazaro is most likely to take charge of the right wing. Up in front, we have the technically gifted duo of Marco Arnautovic and Marcel Sabitzer.
Key player: Marcel Sabitzer
Marcel Sabitzer has been one of the best players on a well-playing RB Leipzig-side. He is primarily deployed as a midfielder/wing at club level and provides a lot of assists, but he takes on a more offensive role when playing for Austria. Much like Arnautovic, he is a bit of a showman on the pitch but he is also an extremely gifted set-piece taker with a deadly strike.
How will Austria line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Lindner, RB: Lainer, CB: Hinteregger, CB: Dragovic, LB: Ulmer, RM: Lazaro, CM: Baumgartlinger, CM: Ilsanker, LM: Alaba, AM/FW: Sabitzer, FW: Arnautovic
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The EURO-newcomers, nicknamed the ‘Red Lions’, will be put to the test to see if they can cause a football sensation and claim a place in the round of 16. This would seem like an almost impossible task, but North Macedonia have already shown what they are capable of. Igor Angelovski and his team qualified due to their impressive performances in the UEFA Nations League and thanks to Goran Pandev’s late winner against Georgia in the last play-off final, the Macedonians secured a historic first major tournament qualification.
Angelovksi’s team relies on Stole Dimitrievski as the man between the sticks. There is a lot of quality to be found at the wingback-positions in Sporting-man Stefan Ristovski to the right and Leeds-dynamo Ezgjan Alioski on the left side. Either Visar Musliu, Gjoko Zajkov or Darko Velkovski are likely to take charge in the central defence.
The midfield-positions is also looking interesting with Arijan Ademi, Boban Nikolov and the more offensive-minded Napoli-star Elif Elmas or Levante’s Enis Bardhi forming the central axis. The attacking line is covered by several experienced poachers, but the main Macedonian-man is, of course, the legendary all-time top scorer Goran Pandev, who is also the most capped player ever. Alongside him, Angelovski will deploy either Ivan Thrichkovski, Aleksandar Trajkovski or Ilija Nestorovski.
Key player: Elif Elmas
Goran Pandev deserves an honourable mention here, but it is also time to focus on the future of Macedonian football. The starlet Elif Elmas is primarily used as a joker in Napoli, but there is no doubt that his football skills are extraordinary. As such, he has exceptional vision and a strong passing-game along with his splendid technical qualities. If North Macedonia is looking to surprise us, then Elmas is the answer.
How will North Macedonia line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Dimitrievski, CB: Zjakov, CB: Velkovski, CB: Musliu, RWB: Ristovski, LWB: Alioski, CM: Ademi, CM: Elmas, AM: Bardhi, FW: Pandev, FW: Nestorovski
Group C fixtures:
13/6: Austria vs North Macedonia; Kick-off 5pm (Bucharest)
13/6: Netherlands vs Ukraine; Kick-off 8pm (Amsterdam)
17/6: Ukraine vs North Macedonia; Kick-off 2pm (Bucharest)
17/6: Netherlands vs Austria; Kick-off 8pm (Amsterdam)
21/6: North Macedonia vs Netherlands; Kick-off 5pm (Amsterdam)
21/6: Ukraine vs Austria; Kick-off 5pm (Bucharest)
Which teams will advance from Group C?
Netherlands will live up to the expectations and claim a spot. We predict that a steadfast Ukrainian team will follow suit.
Could it be coming home this time? A talented England-squad surely did everything in their power to make the dream come true a couple of years ago in the World Cup 2018. The strong English-side only narrowly lost their spot in the final in extra time on behalf of the well-playing Croatians that they will have to face yet again. Now, the Brits are back in town to see if this could finally be their year, and once again the ‘Three Lions’ is surrounded by immense hype.
Popular gaffer Gareth Southgate definitely has the team to back up the boasting. Jordan Pickford has been the #1 pick in the back for a while, but he faces some harsh competition from Dean Henderson and Nick Pope. The right wingback is a major luxury problem for Southgate with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold available. Harry Maguire, John Stones, Joe Gomez and Wolves-skipper Conor Coady compete for the CB-positions and the same goes for Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell on the left side.
The central midfield positions will probably go to more defensive-minded players like Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice, while the English frontline attack will look absolutely terrifying to every opponent they will come across, as Southgate’s team has an incredible offensive depth, including the likes of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Harry Kane. Prolific names such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham, Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Mason Mount are ready to come off the bench. Absolutely deadly!
Key player: Harry Kane
You could mention the whole team but if England wants to succeed, the ‘Hurricane’ needs to perform on his usual top level. He is once again to be found among the top goalscorers in PL this season and he just continues to amaze us. As an interesting development to his game, he is now also providing a lot of assists for his teammates, underlining why every opponent should fear his offensive proficiency.
How will England line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Pickford, RB: Alexander-Arnold, CB: Maguire CB: Stones, LB: Shaw, DM/CM: Henderson, DM/CM: Rice, AM: Sterling, FW: Sancho, FW: Kane, FW: Rashford
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Scotland failed to qualify automatically for the EURO’s - instead they won both of their playoff matches on penalties against Israel and Serbia, respectively. Much like Wales, the Scotland tactics rely on a strong collective unit as well as an elite mentality. The Scots, however, do also have a couple of exciting individualists capable of turning the tides in the tournament. The Scottish supporters, known as the ‘Tartan Army’, are definitely looking forward to seeing if Scotland has what it takes to advance to the knockout phase.
The former Chelsea-defender, Steve Clarke, is the man at the wheel and he will look to shot-stopper David Marshall for the clean sheets. The defence will most likely consist of Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay (in a way more defensive role than at United) as well as Declan Gallagher or Scott McKenna. Captain and star player Andrew Robertson will make his dangerous runs on the left flank, while Wednesday-man Liam Palmer is deployed to the right. Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn will probably link up with Callum McGregor and Ryan Jack in the centre to form an energetic midfield, while Ryan Christie, Leigh Griffiths and Oli McBurnie will have to compete the new hope, Lyndon Dykes, for the two positions up in front.
Key player: John McGinn
Naturally, Andrew Robertson or Scott McTominay would be apparent choices. However, John McGinn’s importance to the team is also tremendous, as he is set to act as the dominant midfield-maestro for the Scots. The whirlwind McGinn has been in superb form for his Villa-side due to his huge versatility, including an extreme work-rate, determination and creativity as well as his composure. McGinn simply has it all.
How will Scotland line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Marshall, CB: McTominay, CB: Gallagher, CB: Tierney, RWB: Palmer, LWB: Robertson, CM: Jack, CM: McGinn, CM: McGregor, FW: Dykes, FW: Christie
As mentioned above, Croatia displayed their strength at the World Cup by reaching the final. It was an astonishing feat for Zlatko Dalic and his extremely gifted Croatian-side. 3 years later, Croatia is currently going through somewhat of a generational change, while still holding on to the core of dominant and experienced players.
Danijel Subasic, who was one of the key players back in the day, is now replaced, and Dominik Livakovic and Lovren Kalinic now compete for the GK spot. Sime Vrsaljko and Borna Barisic are expected to handle the wingbacks with Tin Jedvaj and Darko Bradaric as potential back-ups. Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren will try to retain their partnership in the central defence in favour of younger players such as Duje Caleta-Car and Marin Pongracic.
Dalic has an incredible depth available for the midfield positions. In the centre, winner of the Ballon d’Or 2018, Luka Modric, still reigns supreme. Mateo Kovacic will probably also start, while it is a bit uncertain whether Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Marko Rog or Mario Pasalic will claim the last spot in midfield. The Croatian offensive line is likewise overflowing with gifted players such as Nikola Vlasic, Ivan Perisic, Josip Brekalo, Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Budimir and Bruno Petkovic, making it difficult to point out the potential starters in the Croatian case.
Key player: Luka Modric
He is still the ultimate leader for Croatia, and even though he will turn 36 in September, he is a regular football phenomenon. The diminutive midfielder is the incarnation of a creative playmaker with exceptional vision and passing, who is able to change the course of a game in an instant due to his multiple abilities.
How will Croatia line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Livakovic, RB: Vrsaljko, CB: Lovren, CB: Vida, LB: Barisic, CM: Modric, CM: Kovacic, CM: Brozovic, AM: Vlasic, FW: Perisic, FW: Petkovic
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The Czech Republic
Czech football peaked more than 15 years ago at the EURO 2004 tournament with a golden generation featuring Czech legends such as Pavel Nedved, Thomas Rosicky, Jan Koller, Petr Cech and topscorer Milan Baros. National team coach Jaroslav Silhavi and co. are now hoping to repeat the impressive feat at EURO 2020.
It will, of course, be a difficult task considering the group draw, but it is safe to say that Silhavi has a lot of quality at his disposal. Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik has been a decent replacement for Petr Cech, while Vladimir Coufal from West Ham brings a lot of tenacity to the right wingback. Jakub Brabec and Tomas Kalas are likely to take care of the central defence, while Fenerbahce-man Filip Novak will attend to the left side. The midfield might be the strongest aspect of the Czech squad due to player capacities such as Vladimir Darida, Tomas Soucek, Alex Kral, Antonin Barak, Jakub Jankto, Lukas Masopust, Borek Dockal and Jan Kopic.
Powerhouses Soucek and Kral will try to dominate the centre of the midfield, while captain Darida, Jankto and Masopust are looking to provide the creative aspect to the style of play. The Leverkusen-striker Patrik Schick will provide the necessary goals if possible. Michael Krmencik, Matej Vydra and Zdenek Ondrasek are ready to replace him, if Schick should have trouble finding the net.
Key player: Tomas Soucek
The tall midfielder has a fantastic physical presence on the field as well as great distribution of the ball. As another important feature to his game, he has shown a tremendous talent for being a clinical finisher in front of goal, and his overall goal-tally is impressive considering his midfield-position. Many of his goals are due to his powerful headers, which also provides the Czech Republic with a dangerous weapon in set-piece situations for the EURO’s.
How will the Czech Republic line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Vaclik, RB: Coufal, CB: Brabec, CB: Kalas, LB: Novak, CM: Kral, CM: Soucek, AM: Darida, RW: Masopust, LW: Jankto, FW: Schick
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Group D fixtures:
13/6: England vs Croatia; Kick-off 2pm (London)
14/6: Scotland vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 2pm (Glasgow)
18/6: Croatia vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 5pm (Glasgow)
18/6: England vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (London)
22/6: Czech Republic vs England; Kick-off 8pm (London)
22/6: Croatia vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (Glasgow)
Which teams will advance from Group D?
We predict that England and Croatia will proceed to the knockout stage from Group D.
The supreme international football force a decade ago, and the only national football team to win 3 consecutive major titles, is still undergoing somewhat of a generational change. Gone are the days when absolute legends of the game such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and David Silva roamed the pitch. Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and Jesus Navas still remain as the leaders of the team, but Luis Enrique will have to put faith in a new group of Spanish players in order to go far in the tournament.
With his many accolades, Luis Enrique is certainly the right man to lead the Spaniards into a new and bright football future, and if we take the Nations League clash against Germany in November into consideration, the Spanish team certainly shows promise. They thrashed the Germans 6-0 and made fans reminisce about the good old days with tactical dispositions based on ball possession as well as offensive qualities.
In goal, David de Gea has managed to fend off the poor performing Kepa, while the warrior Ramos is likely to partner up with Villarreal-man Pau Torres in central defence. Enrique will then have to choose among players such as Jordi Alba, Jose Gaya, Sergio Reguillon, Dani Carvajal and Sergio Roberto for the wingback positions.
Rodri, Saul, Koke, Busquets, Marcos Llorente, Thiago, Sergio Canales and Fabian Ruiz compete for the central midfield, while the young prospects Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres, Mikel Oyarzabal, Dani Olmo, as well as the beast Adama Traore, will do all in their effort to start as one of the wingers. The lone striker up in front will probably be either the steady Gerard Moreno or top club journeyman Alvaro Morata.
Key player: Thiago
Sergio Ramos is one of the best defenders in football history and he is the undisputed leader of the Spanish national team. However, the man in charge of organizing the midfield and Spanish offensive is Thiago, who was nothing less than phenomenal at Bayern last year. To be fair, he hasn’t had the best start in Liverpool, but his qualities as a world-class playmaker are unquestionable.
How will Spain line up for EURO 2020?
GK: De Gea, RB: Navas, CB: Ramos, CB: Torres, LB: Alba, DM: Rodri, CM: Thiago, CM: Koke, RW: Torres, LW: Oyarzabal FW: Moreno
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Sweden had a quite successful World Cup campaign 3 years ago reaching the quarter-finals, and coach Janne Andersson has managed to keep much of his team intact. The Blue and Yellow’s generally rely on a well-built collective unit which also saw them excel at the EURO 2020 qualifiers. A new generation of gifted Swedish players have arrived, providing Sweden with the opportunity to claim yet another spot in the knockout stage of a major tournament.
Obviously, the big question regarding the Swedish team is: will Zlatan Ibrahimovic play? The controversial target man, turning 40 this year, is once again a dominating force in his beloved Serie A, banging goals in for AC Milan. Zlatan is an absolutely incredible player and individualist, who never ceases to amaze us. But is he a valuable contribution to a collective-minded Swedish team? It is a difficult question to answer.
Robin Olsen is set to be the man between the sticks behind an experienced backline consisting of players such as Mikael Lustig, Marcus Danielsson, Victor Lindelöf and Pierre Bengtsson (former skipper Andreas Granqvist is not likely to feature any longer). Albin Ekdal, Kristoffer Olsson and the ageless Sebastian Larsson are looking to take charge of the central midfield, while the likes of Emil Forsberg, Viktor Claesson, Ken Sema and Dejan Kulusevski are the offensive driving forces. Marcus Berg will claim one of the positions up in front with Sociedad-star Alexander Isak and Robin Quaison competing for the remaining opening. That is unless Zlatan joins, of course.
Key player: Dejan Kulusevski
Even though he is mainly used as a sub for Juve, the former Brommapojkarna-talent has developed into one of the most exciting young attacking midfielders in European football - especially due to his quick pace and athleticism as well as his excellent technique, clinical finishes and distribution of the ball. Kulusevski will definitely be an interesting player to watch during the tournament.
How will Sweden line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Olsen, RB: Lustig, CB: Danielsson, CB: Lindelöf, LB: Bengtsson, RM: Kulusevski, CM: Ekdal, CM: Olsson, LM: Forsberg, FW: Berg, FW: Isak (Zlatan)
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Surprisingly, Poland finished at the bottom of their group 3 years ago. Jerzy Brzeczek replaced former coach Adam Nawalka after their failure at the World Cup 2018, and he has so far succeeded in rebuilding a strong foundation while also integrating a group of new Polish prospects - a bunch of them plying their trade in England.
Brzecek is pretty much covered at the goalkeeper positions as he has two solid shot-stoppers in Wojciech Szczęsny and Lukasz Fabiański at his disposal. The defence is also looking quite strong with CB’s Kamil Glik and Jan Bednarek alongside reliable wingbacks Tomasz Kędziora, Bartosz Bereszyński, Maciej Rybus and Arkadiusz Reca. The central axis in midfield is quite capable as well, starring players such as Grzegorz Krychowiak, Karol Linetty, Mateusz Klich and Napoli-star Piotr Zieliński.
The Polish offensive has one name written all over it: Robert Lewandowski. It is absolutely vital for the Polish team that he is at his best during EURO 2020 in order for them to advance to the round of 16 and beyond. Arek Milik, Kamil Grosicki, Krzysztof Piatek and the new Dynamo Moscow starlet Sebastian Szymański are important offensive players as well, but it mostly depends on Lewandowski. Unfortunately, he has a slight tendency to fall out of the big tournaments. However, his skills and talent for scoring insane amounts of goals are undeniable.
Key player: Robert Lewandowski
Probably the best #9 in the world right now.
How will Poland line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Fabiański, RB: Kędziora, CB: Bednarek, CB: Glik, LB: Rybus, RM: Grosicki CM: Krychowiak, CM: Zieliński, LM: Szymański, FW: Lewandowski, FW: Milik
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Slovakia beat Northern Ireland in extra time in a dramatic playoff-final and now the Slovakians are ready to put up a fight once again in a fairly difficult group. The man at the wheel is Štefan Tarkovič, who has been a part of the national team since 2013 and thus knows his team very well. Slovakia definitely has a lot of experience all around, but is that going to be sufficient?
Fulham-keeper Marek Rodak is the first choice in goal. Chances are that the two Slovakian evergreens, Peter Pekarík and Tomáš Hubočan, will take charge of the wingbacks in favour of David Hancko and Róbert Mazáň. The centre back position is harder to pinpoint, but top class defender Milan Škriniar is obviously a vital part of the defence. Either Norbert Gyömbér, Ľubomír Šatka or perhaps Denis Vavro will take command of the last CB.
The skilled distributor from Napoli FC, Stanislav Lobotka, will try to dictate the play from his position as a deep-lying playmaker, while a dynamic duo of Juraj Kucka and still going strong Marek ‘Mohawk’ Hamšík will take the center stage even though Patrik Hrošovský is also opting for a spot. The wingers Robert Mak, Vladimir Weiss, Lukáš Haraslín and Albert Rusnák will grant Slovakia the necessary speed and cross-quality as one of the primary tactical weapons. The Slovakian strikers, however, does not possess quite the same quality, which is why Tarkovič could consider deploying Ondrej Duda, instead of qualifier hero Michal Ďuriš, as the lone striker.
Key player: Milan Škriniar
As the successor of Liverpool icon Martin Škrtel in central defence, Škriniar is undoubtedly the star player for Slovakia. He is a natural centre-back due to his excellent tackles, strong clearances as well as his superb physique. Being a natural leader both on and off the pitch, Slovakia will rally around Škriniar and depend on him to keep the opponents from scoring.
How will Slovakia line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Rodak, RB: Peter Pekarík, CB: Šatka, CB: Škriniar, LB: Tomáš Hubočan, DM: Lobotka CM: Kucka, CM: Hamšík, LW: Mak, RW: Rusnák, FW: Duda
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Group E fixtures:
14/6: Poland vs Slovakia; Kick-off 5pm (St Petersburg)
14/6: Spain vs Sweden; Kick-off 8pm (Seville)
18/6: Sweden vs Slovakia; Kick-off 2pm (St Petersburg)
19/6: Spain vs Poland; Kick-off 8pm (Seville)
23/6: Slovakia vs Spain; Kick-off 5pm (Seville)
23/6: Sweden vs Poland; Kick-off 5pm (St Petersburg)
Which teams will advance from Group E?
We are betting on Spain to advance, while we have Sweden as small favourites to claim the 2nd spot in favour of Poland.
Portugal is the first team in the strongest of the EURO 2020 groups. The titleholders will do anything in their power to reclaim the trophy and the title as European Champions. Along with the World Cup next year, this will be one of the last opportunities for ageing, but still phenomenal, Cristiano Ronaldo to clinch another major international title. The performances during the EURO qualifiers were not always the most convincing with Fernando Santos in charge. However, Portugal emerged victorious in the UEFA Nations League after beating the Netherlands in the final - thus proving once again that they have a special knack for winning the big tournaments.
Santos is in charge of an immensely talented team, starting with Rui Patricio as the undisputed #1 goalkeeper for the Portuguese. City-ace Ruben Dias and the everlasting José Fonte will probably partner up alongside João Cancelo and Raphael Guerreiro to form a strong defensive line. A dynamic 3-man midfield consisting of William Carvalho, Danilo and Bruno Fernandes gives them an edge, while an attacking line of capacities such as Bernardo Silva, João Félix and Cristiano Ronaldo is close to being out of this world. Portuguese subs like Diogo Jota, André Silva, Gonçalo Guedes and Trincão, as well as the two agile Wolves-wingers Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence, only adds further to this image.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
The predictable choice, but who else? CR7 is, and will probably always be, one of the best players to ever walk this planet. Yes, Bruno Fernandes has been incredible for United and João Félix is starting to look like a world-class player. But Cristiano is just... Cristiano.
How will Portugal line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Patricio, RB: Cancelo, CB: Fonté, CB: Dias, LB: Guerreiro, CM: Fernandes, CM: Carvalho, CM: Danilo, RW: Silva, LW: Félix, FW: Ronaldo
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The current World Champions and possibly the most consistent team in the tournament on paper, but also the one surrounded by the biggest expectations. Even though Didier Deschamps made use of a long list of players during the EURO 2020 qualification, he has managed to keep almost the entire squad from the successful campaign 3 years ago intact. And it is indeed still a team filled to the brim with quality.
'Les Bleus’ strongest line-up still features captain Hugo Lloris in goal with Steve Mandanda as the understudy. Like in Barcelona, Clément Lenglet has edged out Samuel Umtiti and we will probably see him feature alongside Raphael Varane in the central defence. Bayern-backs, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard are expected to handle the opponents' wingers like in 2018. The well-performing Paul Pogba and everybody’s favourite Frenchman, N’golo Kanté, will probably claim ⅔ of the midfield positions. The question is whether Adrien Rabiot, Corentin Tolisso, Mohammed Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele, Houssem Aouar, or perhaps the exciting Rennes-talent Eduardo Camavinga, will star next to them.
The ageing Olivier Giroud is still an option to go for as the lone attacking wolf, but Deschamps will probably base his tactics and style of play more on speed and agility. Thus, superstar Kylian Mbappé is an obvious choice and so is Antoine Griezmann. Either Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembélé or Gladbach’s Marcus Thuram are likely to fill out the remaining position in the attacking line-up. It is a top-class list of forwards and they should be more than able to tackle the pressure.
Key player: Kylian Mbappé
Mbappé has been touted by many fans and pundits as the prime Ballon d’Or winner for years to come, once Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo hang up their boots. With a blistering pace, exceptional dribbling skills and composure in front of goal, Mbappé has everything he needs in order to reign supreme as the best player in world football in a not too distant future.
How will France line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Lloris, RB: Pavard, CB: Varane, CB: Lenglet, LB: Hernandez, CM: Pogba, CM: Kanté, CM: Rabiot, FW: Mbappé, FW: Griezmann, FW: Martial
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‘Die Mannschaft’ displayed a poor performance at the World Cup, but Joachim Löw still sits firmly in his seat while he has given the German team an overhaul. Former key players like Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng and Thomas Müller were all ‘retired’ in order to make way for a new generation of German players. They managed to qualify ahead of The Netherlands in qualification Group C and should always be considered among the field of favourites in major tournaments.
Captain Manuel Neuer still retains the GK spot in favour of Barcelona’s Marc-André Ter Stegen, while Lukas Klostermann and Atalanta’s Robin Gosens are likely to take charge of the defensive flanks. Matthias Ginter and Niklas Süle will handle the central defence. A balanced 3-man midfield embodied by either the solid Toni Kroos, the versatile Joshua Kimmich, the well-performing distributor Ilkay Gündogan or the powerful Leon Goretzka is one of the best in the tournament.
Serge Gnabry, who has an incredible goal pr. game ratio on an international level will claim one of the attacking positions. The Chelsea-duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are looking to fill out the remaining slots, but their lack of performance in the PL could easily see Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Marco Reus or Leroy Sané in the starting line-up instead.
Key player: Serge Gnabry
The former Arsenal-prospect has been absolutely revitalized since his move to Germany. He has been nothing less than tremendous since his move to Bayern, where he has developed into one of the deadliest wingers in Europe. With an immense pace, technique and agility, he tores defences apart before he strikes at goal and celebrates with his trademark cooking celebration.
How will Germany line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Neuer, RB: Klostermann, CB: Ginter, CB: Süle, LB: Gosens, CM: Kimmich, CM: Kroos, CM: Gündogan, FW: Gnabry, FW: Werner, FW: Sané
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What the Netherlands did for football in the 1970s, Hungary did 20 years prior. The once glorious football nation revolutionized the foundation and tactics of the game with players such as the legendary Ferenc Puskás, the top goalscorer of the 20th century. Hungary will play their EURO matches at the newly built Puskás Aréna in Budapest to the excitement of the Hungarian fans. However, in Group F, the ‘Magyars’ find themselves in the worst possible situation regarding further advancement.
Marco Rossi is in charge of the team and it’s fair to say that his experience in coaching at the highest level of football is quite limited. The same goes for the Hungarian squad which lacks the same level of experience as the EURO 2016 team, featuring the likes of Gabor Kiraly (with the iconic pants), Zoltan Gera and Roland Juhasz. In addition, most-capped player Balázs Dzsudzsák is now plying his trade in the second tier of Hungarian football making him unlikely to lead the team during the tournament.
A core consisting of solid Leipzig-goalie Peter Gulacsi, defenders Adam Lang, Attila Szalai and Willi Orban as well as the talented midfielders Adam Nagy, Dominik Szoboszlai, Zsolt Kalmár and Filip Holender, will have to do most of the job. Adam Szalai, Rolland Sallai and Nemanja Nikolic are the forwards in charge of providing the necessary goals if Hungary should stand a chance of advancing further in the tournament.
Key player: Dominik Szoboszlai
The most prolific player in the Hungarian line-up is also the youngest, and it was thanks to Szoboszlai’s late winner in the play-off final against Iceland that Hungary qualified for the EURO’s. The promising youngster became the most expensive Hungarian player in history when he recently moved to RB Leipzig from Austrian RB Salzburg. However, even bigger clubs were looking to procure his impressive skill set, including his work-rate, movement, brilliant vision and deadly passes into the box.
How will Hungary line up for EURO 2020?
GK: Gulacsi, CB: Orban, CB: Lang, CB: Szalai, RM: Fiolla, CM: Nagy, CM: Szoboszlai, CM: Kalmar, LM: Holender, FW: A. Szalai, FW: R. Sallai
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Group F fixtures:
15/6: Hungary vs Portugal; Kick-off 5pm (Budapest)
15/6: France vs Germany; Kick-off 8pm (Munich)
19/6: Hungary vs France; Kick-off 2pm (Budapest)
19/6: Portugal vs Germany; Kick-off 5pm (Munich)
23/6: Germany vs Hungary; Kick-off 8pm (Munich)
23/6: Portugal vs France; Kick-off 8pm (Budapest)
Which teams will advance from Group F?
It is indeed tough to predict the outcome from this year’s dynamite group. However, we believe that France will move on to the round of 16, while Portugal and Germany will compete for the last opening.
All in all, it seems fair to establish that we definitely have some exciting EURO 2020 groups and a lot of extraordinary football matches to look forward to in the summer. We are counting down the days!
If you are looking for more information on the tournament, check out our EURO 2020 guide.
You can also visit Unisport’s EURO 2020 page right here