Besides the FIFA World Cup, UEFA’s European Championships are the next biggest prize in football at international level in Europe. Partly because until the last couple of years, they were the only two until the introduction of the Nation’s League, which most people still find incredibly confusing and hard to follow.
The Euros were meant to take place last summer, in 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and many leagues deciding to continue their seasons into the summer, the decision was made to delay the tournament until this year, 2021. Which is slightly confusing to those who aren’t fans of football because they decided to stick with the original name of Euro 2020.
But this is due to the fact the tournament happens every four years, and last year was delayed, going forwards, everything should be back on track.
The question on everyone’s lips though is who will lift the trophy at the final, which takes place on Sunday 11th July at Wembley, London.
Who is taking part?
All in all, there are 24 countries from across Europe taking part in the tournament. All there following various different routes of qualification. Some are there due to performances in the Nation’s League, some had to make it through playoffs. But everyone that has arrived has gotten there on merit. But who are the 24 teams? Let’s have a look.
- North Macedonia
- Czech Republic
Depending on who you ask, everyone has their own opinions of who will be favorites to win the tournament. Many bookmakers including Bovada Sportsbook have England as the odds on favorites to win Euro 2020 at odds of 4/1, with France second favorite at 5/1 and Belgium third at 6/1.
The problem is, it is anyone’s game really. And England don’t have the best of luck at international tournaments, although in their last one, they did make the semi-finals, losing out to Croatia 2-1, before they were beaten again by Belgium 2-0 in the third-place playoff.
So maybe a better way of looking at it is who are the favorites of each group.
Group A isn’t the overall strongest group in the competition, but any of the teams could easily qualify for the next round. But if we had to pick one to come out on top, it’d likely be Italy. They won 10 games out of 10 to qualify for the tournament, and are currently breaking records with their current run of form. In their last 8 games, they’ve won all 8 and also kept 8 clean sheets. Whilst that may not mean much for the tournament, it will certainly be a big confidence booster for the Azzurri.
Group B shouldn’t be as close a contest in all honesty, with one of the tournament favorites Belgium in there. Of the other teams remaining, it is likely Russia will finish second, but Pukki could help fire Finland through to the next round if he can capture the form that helped him send Norwich back up to the Premier League.
Group C would normally have us saying the Netherlands are the clear favorites, but they are without their talisman Virgil Van Dijk, who withdrew from international duty to focus on getting fit for the upcoming premier league campaign after nearly a whole season out of action. Not much will be expected of North Macedonia, but Austria and Ukraine could both easily challenge for a place through to the round of 16.
Group D could be a tricky one. England face the team that dumped them out of the World Cup in 2018 and also have rivals Scotland in there as well. Whilst many won’t believe Scotland will be much of a threat, Croatia definitely will be, but unlike England who are full of youth, Croatia has an ageing team, so maybe the Lions could take advantage.
Group E is another that would normally have us saying Spain are clear favourites, but the form of the team who won three international titles on the bounce not that long ago hasn’t been the same since. And with Lewandowski up top for Poland, the goal machine could potentially cause an upset there.
Group F is this year’s group of death. Three potential teams in France, Germany and Portugal could easily all win the tournament with the talent they possess. And there is a chance all three could qualify. We don’t really see Hungary causing an upset here, but never say never. If they can draw all three of their games with some solid defensive work, that could well see them through.
What will the path look like after the group stages?
It’s impossible to really tell who will finish where in each group, but we can confirm how the Euro 2020 schedule will pan out afterwards. Game 1 of the round of 16 will see the runners-up of both Group A and Group B face off. Game 2 will see Group A winners taking on the runners-up of Group C, with the winners of Group C facing a third-placed side from Group D/E/F in Game 3. Game 4 will then see the winners of Group B take on a third-placed side from Group A/D/E/F.
Group D runners-up will then take on Group E runners-up in Game 5, Group F winners against a third-placed side from Group A/B/C in Game 6, Group D winners against Group F runners up in Game 7, and finally, Group E winners taking on a third-placed side Group A/B/C/D. Pretty easy to follow.
From there, the winners of Game 5 and 6 will face off in the 1st Quarter-final, and likewise winners of Games 4 and 2 in the 2nd Quarter-final, winners of Games 3 and 1 in the 3rd Quarter-final, and winners of Games 7 and 8 in the 4th Quarter-final. The four winners will then progress to the Semi-final round, where the winners of the first two Quarter-finals and the second too will face off respectively.
Winners of both ties will then as mentioned at the start, head to Wembley to battle it out on Sunday 11th July, in a bid to become the new European champions.