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Top Contenders of Euro 2020

Mon 28 June 2021 | 12:00

Now with the group stage done, it’s time to take a look at the top contenders of Euro 2020 and figure out who they are:

To say that Euro 2020 has been an interesting one is an understatement. From Eriksen’s unfortunate accident on the pitch to Italy’s reemergence as a serious contender and the exciting battle for qualifying to the knockout stages in Group F, dubbed the Group of Death, all has made Euro 2020 one to be remembered for many years to come. And yet the true excitement awaits us in the knockout stages after 16 of the starting 24 teams battle it out to become European Champions.

As with many tournaments such as this, the teams that are tipped to perform before the tournament, usually end up not doing so, which makes these competitions all the more exciting. We have already seen many teams like Denmark, Czech and even Italy surprise us with their performances. So now that we have a firmer grasp on the form these teams and their circumstances, let us examine their situation and figure out who are the

top contenders of Euro 2020

.

UEFA Euro 2020: Top 5 contenders to win the tournament

We have chosen these teams based on the form that they had in the group stages as well as their history in European competitions. So we present to you

UEFA Euro 2020: Top 5 contenders to win the tournament

, and more; we mean one or two more teams that should probably win the tournament:

Denmark

It’s safe to say that a lot of us have rooted for

Denmark

to succeed in this tournament after the horrible experience they had in their first match of Euro 2020 when their star player Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch. Thankfully he has recovered since as have Denmark after they miraculously saved their Euro 2020 campaign by making into the round of 16 on the last day.

But before the start of Euro 2020 and all these dramatic events, Denmark were considered as one of the Euro 2020 contenders although certainly not a strong candidate to win the competition. This was mainly because of their great squad which boasted of some experienced players like Eriksen, Schmeichel and Hojberg alongside the young talents like

Demsgaard

and Dolberg.

Denmark is perhaps more cohesive than any other team on our list of top contenders of Euro 2020, since they work as a unit rather than relying on their best players to carry them. Perhaps the Eriksen incident has galvanized the Danish players to give their 100% and leave nothing on the field. They have shown that fighting spirit in the group stages after winning in glorious fashion against Russia in the last match despite losing out the first two matches.

Their playing style has also gone unnoticed as they were the most successful team in getting the ball into opposition’s third in the group stages which shows their desire to play beautiful football rather than grinding out results. And if that wasn’t enough for you to consider them a contender, then their consecutive 4-1 and 4-0 victories against Russia and Wales should convince you. They will face Czech Republic in the quarter-finals and could very well make it into the semi-finals, potentially meeting Germany or England there!

Germany

The most decorated team in the history of European Championships is always considered as one of the favorites to win the competition, even though they have had a rough time of it in the past couple of years. Germany started the competition knowing that their long-serving manager, Joachim Low, would be coaching his final matches for

Die Mannschaft

after Hansi Flick agreed to take his place after the Euro 2020.

So naturally Low had a lot to prove, especially since their embarrassing exit in the 2018 World Cup. although

Germany

’s form in the past couple of years and his failed experiment of a supposed squad rebuild didn’t give their fans any hope for the Euro 2020. But as Klopp has recently said, it would be crazy to write off Germany given their history as well as their talented squad. which is why we consider them as one of the UEFA EURO 2020 contenders.

Low has had to change his tactics though as he was short of manpower, especially in the fullback position so he has had to play Kimmich in the wing-back position and has switched to a more defensive formation of 3-4-3. The addition of

Muller

and Hummels, both of which has had a great season at Bayern Munich and Dortmund, was also a smart decision from Low as the pair would add considerable experience to this relatively inexperienced squad.

Despite their slow start in the tournament which saw them lose to France on home ground, their 4-2 dismantling of Portugal and their comeback against Hungary shows that this Germany team has a lot of spirit. And perhaps this team’s talent and spirit alongside Low’s experience could give them an edge, especially since they’re on the easier side of the bracket in the knockout stages, and could see them progress all the way to the finals. to do so they must first face off against England in a tough match at Wembley!

Spain

Despite being one of the genuine Euro 2020 contenders, especially after beating Germany 6-0 earlier this year, it’s safe to say that Spain started Euro 2020 not the way they wanted to. Their problems started even before a ball was kicked in the competition since one of their most important players, Sergio Bosquets, tested positive for COVID-19 and his involvement in the Euros was in doubt. But Luis Enrique found a way around it somehow, only to find that their biggest problem was on the pitch.

That problem being scoring goals. despite having a talented squad filled with creative players who could create dozens of chances every game, Spain wasn’t finding the net. Their first two matches ended up in a draw, with critics zooming in on their match against Sweden especially as

Spain

had the ball for nearly the entirety of the match but failed to convert any of their chances. Alvaro Morata ended up being the one who took all this heat from critics and fans. which was unfortunate because he does so much more to help Spain in attack other than scoring but he doesn’t get the recognition for it.

However, Spain finally arrived at the tournament in the final match of the group stage as they thrashed Slovakia 5-0. Bosquets was finally able to play, with Koke and Pedri alongside him in midfield. Moreno, Morata and

Sarabia

started in attack and their impressive backline of Alba and Azplicueta on either side of the Garcia-Laporte center-back pairing suddenly made everyone realize why Spain is one of the

top contenders of Euro 2020.

With a balanced squad both in terms of experience as well as talented players in every position and with a great bench that has the likes of Thiago, Ferran Torres and Adama Traore, Spain is bound to give any team problems starting with Croatia whom they’ll face in the round of 16. With shifting to creating more chances from set-pieces in their last group match, Enrique has solved their goal scoring problems by going around it. Now if he can manage Morata and Moreno to perform a bit better, his team will go far in the tournament. Even as it is, Enrique’s team has a lot going for it and we won’t be surprised at all to see them challenge for the title, especially given their history in Euros.

England

Prior to the Euro 2020, England were one of the most hyped teams as well as one of the heavy favorites to win the competition. By having one of the most talented squads in Euro 2020 with players like Harry Kane, Grealish, Sancho, Mount and many others,

England

was rightfully considered as one of the

Euro 2020 contenders

but that hype has waned a little after their lackluster performances in the group stages.

While there are many reasons that a team with so many great individual players isn’t able to perform in international competitions, England’s woes are mostly to Gareth Southgate’s tactics and his seemingly safe approach when picking his team. Southgate naming 4 right-backs and overall 8 defenders in his 26-man squad was one of the first signs of his defensive tactics. His reluctance to use on-form attackers like Sancho and Grealish is another sign of his safe approach which has baffled everyone.

On top of all this, Harry Kane who was deemed to be one of the biggest stars of the tournament, seemed to be missing in the group stage and failed to find the net in all three games. But despite all that, England is still one of the top contenders of Euro 2020 since Southgate’s team knows how to grind out results and not concede any goals.

They may also find their mojo in attack as well, after seeing how the addition of Saka and

Grealish

seemed to liven up their game going forward. Southgate knows all too well that beautiful football doesn’t necessarily win competitions, especially the international ones. But he is leaning too much into that and must see his squad’s strengths as well, which seems to mostly reside in his great attacking players. If he could successfully combine the two, then there isn’t any doubt that they could go all the way to the final. But that is a big if!

Belgium

Belgium’s Golden Generation perhaps gets its last chance to win a piece of silverware and they seem more than ready for it. With players like

Lukaku

, De Bruyne, Dries Mertens and Thorgan Hazard all at the top of their game, Martinez’ men will look to remedy their 2018 World Cup disappointment when they finished only third, after losing to eventual champions France in the semi-finals.

Now they’re one of the top contenders of Euro 2020 and have more than proven it by winning all four of their games in the competition so far.

Belgium

was one of the only 3 teams to finish the group stages with a perfect record of 3 wins after they beat Russia 3-0 in the opening match, came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against Denmark and finally win their last match against Finland 2-0. They followed it with a close 1-0 victory over the defending champions, Portugal, last night and are already looking to face Italy in the quarter-finals.

Despite always performing their best, Martinez’ men have always been besotted by bad luck as they always seem to get the worst draws in the tournaments and if that wasn’t enough, injuries seem to haunt them as well. With them being on the tougher side of bracket with the likes of France, Italy and Spain and with injuries to key players like De Bruyne and Hazard, Belgium has their work cut out for them going into the match against Italy.

But if they ever want to win anything, they should know that no matter how powerful your opponents are, you must be better than all of them to be champions. Which is exactly the spirit that Martinez’ men have adapted in this tournament. Will they overcome Italy in the next round after knocking out Ronaldo’s Portugal and prove to everyone why they’re one of the top contenders of Euro 2020 or will Belgium’s Golden Generation fizzle out, having never won anything?! We’ll just have to wait and see.  

Italy

Despite their great unbeaten run prior to the tournament, Italy was not considered as one of the heavy favorites to win the Euros, on the count of their disappointing absence from the 2018 World Cup. they had to earn people’s respect through their performances in the big European stage and they went and did exactly that, blowing every team of the Group A out of the water. Italy alongside Netherlands and Belgium were the only three teams in the group stage that had a perfect record of winning every game.

With a rejuvenated squad that also boasted some experienced players like Chiellini and Bonucci, Mancini was able to slowly build a momentum for this Italy side to the point that they were unbeaten in their last 27 games prior to the start of the competition. They have since extended that record to 31 games by beating Austria in the round of 16 as well as all the teams in Group A.

What surprised everyone about Mancini’s

Italy

and excited all the Italy fans around the world was the football they were playing, which was unlike the catenaccio that Italy is famous for. Perhaps with the great attacking talent that Mancini had in his squad, he wisely decided to play more open football and this has led to Italy creating loads of chances every game, like they did against Austria. Italy made 27 attempts against Austria, 19 of which was from open play!

With a squad boasting of world-class players like

Donnarumma

, Bonucci, Verratti, Barella, Insigne and Immobile, Italy is certainly one of the top contenders of Euro 2020. They certainly have been playing the most exciting football in the tournament so far and were the only team to book their ticket to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 and now have a big test ahead of them as they will face either Belgium or Portugal in the next round.

France

The World Cup champions started the competition at the top of the

UEFA EURO 2020 contenders

list. They not only had 14 World Cup winners in their squad but were also boosted by the return of Karim Benzema. Kylian Mbappe and N’Golo Kante are at the top of their game and players like Pogba, Kimpembe and Griezmann compliment them to make France one of the most powerful teams in the world.

However, their less than impressive performances in the group stage and the tension in France’s camp has worried their fans but Deschamps men have enough experience and talent to still dominate the Euro 2020. As they have shown against Germany in the first match where despit not having the ball for the majority of the match they still managed to win score 3 goals, although two were later deemed offside after a VAR review.

France seems to once again favor their 4-2-3-1 formation that turns into a 4-3-3 when Rabiot is involved instead of Corentin Tolisso. Pogba seems on fire bossing France’s midfield and filling the role of a playmaker alongside his defensive partner-in-crime N’Golo Kante. Mbappe like always is a thorn in any defender’s side as he showed against Germany’s Joshua Kimmich as the Bayern defender failed to contain him in the entirety of the match.

France managed to top the so-called Group of Death with 5 points above the likes of Portugal and Germany but their lackluster performance and draw against Hungary has shown that they are not the all-powerful team that everyone thought they were prior to the tournament. Still the sheer power of this squad and their experience makes them one of the

top contenders of Euro 2020

. Their relative easy draw of the round of 16 against Switzerland will perhaps smooth the way for France. We’ll have to see if France could make history and win the Euros on the back of the World Cup victory like Deschamps himself did 21 years ago!

 

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