As everyone knows, this competition will only take place in 2021, due to 2020 being washed out by Covid19. The EURO 2020 Championship will now run from 11 June to 11 July 2021. 24 teams have qualified and matches will be played across 12 countries and 12 cities. Fans will still be allowed to attend matches at 25% of the various stadiums’ capacities, although attendance will probably will be restricted to local fans, as international travel bans may still be in place.
Some EURO facts:
The first European Nations' Cup kicked off in1960 (and held every four years thereafter). Hosted by France, the debut Championship was won by the Soviet Union in Paris, beating Yugoslavia 2–1 after extra time. The 15 European Championship tournaments have been won by 10 teams: Germany and Spain have each won three titles, France has won twice, and the Soviet Union, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and Portugal have each won one title.
Below, we look at some of the main contenders for the 2020 title.
Despite qualifying for every Euro tournament, England have never quite lived up to their fans’ expectations, only once coming close to reaching their first final back in 1996. However, Manager Gareth Southgate's squad for this year’s Cup is in top form and hungry for a win. The most challenging game in their group stage is against Croatia, who beat them in the 2018 World Cup semifinals.
Key to their success is team captain Harry Kane, their main goal scorer. The Tottenham striker is dangerous in front of the goal and the focal point of England’s youthful but formidable attack. Another promising player to look out for is Manchester City forward, Raheem Sterling, who has grown in leaps and bounds, with great composure in front of the goal and a threat when running at the opposition.
Bookies’ odds: 11/2 for an England win
Joachim Löw has a wealth of both extraordinarily talented young players plus tried and tested experienced players to send onto the pitch. However, Germany is in the “group of death” together with Portugal, Germany and Hungary, and will have to successfully battle it out against France and Portugal to make it into the next round.
With Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gündogan, Germany have incredible strength and depth in the midfield. Kroos had a 93% pass completion rate for Real Madrid this past season, while Gündogan is the top scorer for Premier League leaders Manchester City, netting 12 goals. Team captain Manuel Neuer, arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game, shows no sign of slowing down at age 34.
Bookies’ odds: 8/1 for a Germany win
France has won two EURO Championship titles so they are definitely in with a chance. They are fielding a team brimming with talent, being the World Cup reigning champions. However, they will have to fight hard to advance in the tournament as they are also in the “group of death”. Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann leads the Les Bleu’s attacking line, but as well as contributing goals he brings creativity to the game. Despite France's loss to Portugal in the final of EURO 2016, he was named Player of the Tournament.
Another player to watch is wunderkind Kylian Mbappe who, at such a young age, has established himself as a world-class player. He was in the winning World Cup 2018 team, and this is his debut in the EUROs.
Bookies’ odds: 11/2 for a France win
Despite having a long history in the competition, the Netherlands team is yet to gain their first win in a European Championship game since 2008.
The Oranje lost all three of their group games at the 2012 competition and failed to qualify at all for France 2016, and subsequently missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With manager Frank de Boer’s patchy record of leading teams to a win, a question mark hangs above Netherland’s head as to whether they can rally in EURO 2020. They have a relatively easy group to compete in, and only Austria will tax them.
With the team struggling to score goals, a lot lies in the more than capable hands of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, whose form will dictate the fine line between the team’s success or failure. Forward Memphis Depay is the one to watch as he is their undisputed MVP, scoring six goals in the qualifiers, plus creating a further eight.
Bookies’ odds: 14/1 for a Netherlands win
The Spanish team are favourites to win their group but will have a few tough games against Poland and Sweden. Having already won three EURO titles, they are definitely in the stakes to take the Championship.
Sergio Ramos remains as captain of the team for Euro 2020, but will probably retire in the not too distant future. Under his captaincy, Spain have drawn two matches and won eight matches out of ten in Euro 2020 qualifiers. He, alongside David de Gea, is the key player in the defense.
Bookies’ odds: 9/1 for a Spain win
This team has also drawn the “group of death” which means one of the favoured teams to win the Championship will be eliminated in this round. They will have to get the better of France or Germany to make it to the next round. However, they are the reigning EURO champions, having won the 2016 tournament, so they enter the competition in a position of strength.
While it takes a whole team to win a match, undoubtedly their MVP is Cristiano Ronaldo, considered the current and possibly all-time best player of the ‘beautiful game’. He holds the record for most international goals scored over a playing career, notching up a remarkable score of 103 (and over 700 goals in total, together with Lionel Messi).
Bookies’ odds: 9/1 for a Portugal win
Sweden hosted and played in their first EURO tournament in 1992. In the semi-finals following the group stage, Sweden was eliminated by Germany 2–3, and this remains Sweden's best result ever in a European Championship.
When Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from international football back in 2016, many expected it would be the end for Sweden as he was their superstar player, scoring 62 goals in 112 appearances for Sweden. Aware of his side’s limitations, coach Janne Andersson focused instead on building a strong defensive side. Luckily for Sweden, the controversial 39-year-old has come out of retirement to play for Sweden, and we can expect to see his flambouyant playing style on the pitch.
Bookies’ odds: 100/1 for a Sweden win
The Welsh team is in Group A along with Italy, Switzerland and Turkey. They will have to fight hard against all three teams if they want a chance to progress to the next round. Wales were surprise semifinalists in EURO 2016, losing the title to Portugal. No doubt they are looking for a repeat performance this year.
The player to look out for is Gareth Bale, who returned to the Premier League at the beginning of the season wearing a Tottenham Hotspurs jersey as a winger. Bale began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left-back and earning recognition as a free kick specialist. He has recently found great form in his club and is Wales’ best player.
Bookies’ odds: 150/1 for a Wales win
Croatia is in the first group stage with England, Scotland and the Czech Republic, which is a tough group to compete in, but comes in with a sterling reputation, having been runners-up in the 2018 World Cup Russia.
Undoubtedly, Croatia’s MVP is captain Luka Modric, who recently earned his record-breaking 135th international cap. He is widely regarded as Croatia’s best player of all time, and affirmed by Robert Prosinecki, who himself held that honour. The 35-year-old also was named FIFA’s Best Men’s Player in 2018.
Bookies’ odds: 40/1 for a Croatia win
The Italians are in a group with Turkey, Switzerland and Wales. They are expected to come out on top of the group, but will have to outplay their opponents who are no pushovers. Italy were runners-up in EURO 2012, and quarterfinalists in 2016; however they didn’t even qualify for the World Cup 2018, so are looking to make a comeback in this tournament.
The player to watch is Gianluigi Donnarumma who, after the international retirement of Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon, is expected to fill big boots. He is regarded as the best young goalkeeper in the world, and in time just the best.
Bookies’ odds: 12/1 for an Italy win
There you have it, our top picks for the EURO 2020 Championship. Expect some great European style football, and fierce competition for this prestigious title.