Football: Euro 2020 – Preview

A year later than planned, we are finally going to be able to watch Euro 2020. The competition will be spread across 11 host cities as 24 nations compete to win the Henri Delaunay trophy.

The coaches were allowed to pick 26 players as part of their squad, which they all were grateful for, apart from Spain. Coach Luis Enrique didn’t see the point in taking any more than 24, as he knew players 25 and 26 would not get any game time. Each to their own, I guess. What’s more intriguing is that no Real Madrid players are in the the Spanish squad.

In this review I will reveal my prediction for the following:

Winner
Golden Boot
Dark Horse
Disappointment of the tournament
Player of the tournament
Young Player of the tournament

With each section, the results of the survey will be revealed as well.

Let’s crack on…

Winner: FRANCE

This is an absolute no brainer. Everyone is tipping France, and rightfully so. They haven’t lost a competitive game since losing in the Nations League to the Netherlands on June 18th, 2018. They are even stronger than in the 2018 World Cup, which they won. Karim Benzema has added extra firepower to their attack, and the defenders have matured. They could win everything for the next few tournaments.

Survey says: 59% believe France will win, with the rest of the picks going to Belgium, and England, and a solitary pick each for Italy and the Netherlands.

Golden Boot: ROMELU LUKAKU

There are a few players in with a great chance, but I am stuck between Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. Both are their respective nations’ penalty taker, and thanks to VAR the number of penalties at the tournament will undoubtedly be a record.

So, why Lukaku…I believe he will have more opportunities to score, as they are in a less defensive group, also, Kane could get injured, whereas Lukaku seems to be a little more reliable when it comes to keeping himself fit.

Survey says: Harry Kane came out on top with 37%. Lukaku accumulated 24% of selections, and 21% for Mbappe.

Dark Horse: TURKEY

Obviously this is a slightly subjective pick, but there’s more to it than that. During the Euro 2020 qualification campaign, Turkey qualified in 2nd, behind France, despite getting four points from the two games against the world champions.

This is arguably Turkey’s best team since 2008, with a solid defence, and energetic young midfielders. In Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) and Merih Demiral (Juventus) the backline has two defenders who will put everything on the line for the team. The full-backs are a little iffy, but should be fine, as long as they don’t get red carded.

The team is coached by Senol Gunes who was in charge when Turkey finished 3rd in the 2002 World Cup. The experienced coach has got the team playing well, which could bode well for a nation that tends to perform above expectations once they get to the finals.

Survey says: The most striking result was that Norway, Iceland and Greece were listed for this category. If either of the three do well, it will be a miracle as none are in the finals. Turkey came out on top with 24%.

Disappointment of the tournament: The Netherlands

This was a very difficult choice between two nations, the Netherlands and Germany. I think both nations will make it through to the round of 16, even if as one of the best placed teams in third. Problem is that depending on where they finish, a tough game could await them in the knockout phase.

In the end, I went with the Netherlands because they aren’t as strong defensively, and are clearly missing the organisational skills of Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutch midfield is full of good players, but they are all pretty similar in style. Going forward, I just don’t think Depay will have the support he needs. A tough round of 16 tie awaits them, which will likely end their run.

Survey says: 31% go for Germany, 24% say England and 21% France.

Player of the tournament: Kylian Mbappe

This award usually goes to a someone who has been instrumental in their teams run to the final. Since 1996, five midfielders and one striker has won the award. Each of those winners played in the final, with only Antoine Griezmann, in 2016, winning the award despite losing in the final.

That being taken into consideration, a French player is the most likely winner, and the best of them is Kylian Mbappe. the 22-year-old is more than ready to win an individual award, and add his name to the list of winners, which include Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, Iniesta and even Theodoris Zagorakis.

Survey says: 31% for Mbappe, 24% fancy Kante, and 21% think De Bruyne. In fact, 65% of votes went to French players, none of which were Antoine Griezmann.


Young player of the tournament: Joao Felix

This award was given out for the first time, in 2016, to Portugal’s Renato Sanchez. It is likely going to be given to a player who gets to the final, which rules out the array of talented players that England possess. So, for the second tournament running, a Portuguese player may end up with it, and if that happens, it will be Joao Felix. The 20-year-old is eligible for the award given to a player who is at most 22 years old at the time of the tournament. Felix has been instrumental for Atletico Madrid this year, helping them to their first La Liga title since the 2013/14 season.

His calmness on the ball will be exactly what is needed come the knockout stages.

Survey says: There were many players mentioned, with 29% of people thinking Mbappe would win this award, as he does qualify for it. Not surprisingly, plenty of people think Phil Foden will win it, or one of his teammates. One person chose Ansu Fati, and another listed Haaland, neither of whom are at the tournament. Best answer was “no”.

Number of goals expected by survey takers.

The next month is likely to be a logistical nightmare for teams, but if navigated well, the event will likely be a success. Most important factor is going to be the safety of players and people in attendance. I still can’t believe that having a full capacity stadium, like in Bucharest, is a smart idea. It will undoubtedly lead to a surge in Covid cases. If one such case happens to occur within a nation’s squad, it is impossible to have the whole team quarantine. Such an occurrence could eliminate the team, or even cancel the tournament, as it did with the IPL earlier on in the year.

Fingers crossed!!

Note: I write for http://www.overtimesportsonline.com and we have a Euros podcast for anyone who’s interested. The podcast is co-presented by myself, and Chloe Chadwick.


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