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Euro 2020 – Everyone’s Game and Anyone’s Tournament

International football takes centre-stage this June and the covid-postponed event is the first real opportunity for countries to kick a ball in anger in front of fans in more than a year.

Who will win is anybody’s guess with the tournament regularly throwing up surprise winners and Betopin has all the betting options you can dream of! The Soviets won in 1960 and appeared in 3 of the first 4 finals. Denmark won the tournament after only being admitted as late replacements and of course Greece stunned the world lifting the trophy in Portugal in 2004. This event has more unique winners than the world cup!!

Here we are just ahead of the start of Euro 2020 in 2021, a unique event in a unique year. For the first time the tournament has no host country with games spread across the length and breadth of Europe with both semi-finals and the final being hosted at Wembley stadium in England.

Who are our 5 favourites, the dark horses and who is expected to shine in the tournament?

FRANCE

Quality and class ooze throughout the team that is spearheaded by non-other than Kylian Mbappe. Didier Deschampes has so many world class players (Kante, Greizmann, Giroud, Pavard, Pogba) at his disposal that his headaches are about who plays and who does not, with multiple players in all positions.  The truth is Deschampes will need the depth of talent as France is in the Group of Death drawn alongside Germany, Portugal and Hungary. A draw or loss is not as detrimental to teams with 2 teams guaranteed to qualify from each group and even the possibility advancing in the 3rd position, however, winning and avoiding other group winners is always first prize!  This team is final four for sure.

GERMANY

Here is a team with so much reputational damage to correct after a miserable World Cup in 2018, it is also coach Joachim Loew’s swansong and will be looking for the bang, not whimper exit.  The ever- efficient Germans will be looking to set so much right in the European summer. Underestimate this team at your peril with quality all over the park and the attacking threat is where the team stands out Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and the evergreen Thomas Muller up front while in the middle of the park Kai Havertz, Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan will be names to look out for. Sneaky money here will be on not to win the group but make it to the final four.

ENGLAND

A realistic chance of making the final four for sure with favourable group assignments and fixturing (all group stage matches at home). The truth is England to win the title have only to win one game off home soil. Gareth Southgate’s team is also stacked with talent upfront the obvious is Harry Kane’s uncanny ability to find the back of the net. His personal achievements have come almost yearly but a team win is something the Tottenham (for now) striker desperately seeks. Alongside him are some real superstars including Rakeem Sterling and Phil Foden while the English midfield brings the ever- growing reputation of Jack Grealish and the youthful exuberance of Saka, Bellingham and Sancho. Can the Three Lions handle the expectation of the nation will be the question and that expectation will only intensify as the tournament goes on! This team can go all the way but final four for sure!

BELGIUM

For this team a year changes many things, I believe this side would have been firm favourites going into the event one year ago but this year changes that, I feel the defence is lacking solidity with key defenders aging (Vertongen and Alderweireld) but I still need to consider their ability to impact the tournament with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne and the Hazard boys in the team. Roberto Martinez has done a fine job of creating a team ethic in the national side and despite the defensive shortcomings cannot be ruled out. They face Finland, Russia and Denmark in pool play so qualification out of that would be expected! I believe Quarterfinals are a given with the semi’s an outside chance!

ITALY

Now here is a team that has won the World Cup more times than the Euro’s!!!! Just one win way back in 1968. Underestimate this team in any tournament at your peril though. Grouped with Wales, Turkey and Switzerland the draw has shone favourably on the Italians. Roberto Mancini takes a team to the finals with a strong defence but no shortage of spice at the sharp end of the spear. Captain Chiellini will anchor the defence and lead on the field while the exceptional talent of Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal providing class shot stopping skills to keep opposition strikers at bay. The attacking threat will be spearheaded by the likes of Immobile and Insigne. Italy will win the group by a landslide their true tests will come later in the event. Quarters for sure, Semis maybe but 1968 will be all they leave with!

THE OUTSIDERS

SPAIN – A good team but missing real calibre players that lift teams to another level I could be mistaken but for me quarters at best.

DENMARK – a quality team with many players playing in the top European leagues, a favourable draw with Russia, Belgium and Finland a good thing but the shortage of a top-notch striker may hold them back!

PORTUGAL – Any side that can field the like of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes. Joao Cancelo and Diogo Jota in the starting XI has got to at least get a mention. Group assignment and potential last 16 opponents puts them on the outside along with whether they can come together as a team!

Besides for dealing with the human nature leading to red and yellow cards teams have a different threat to deal with and that could be dealing with Covid-19 positive cases affecting the team’s countries can put on the field making this tournament more open than usual.

There will be individual brilliance on display and here are my picks for the Player of the tournament award:

Cristiano Ronaldo                                   Bruno Fernandes

Romelu Lukako                                       Kylian Mbappe

Kevin De Bruyne                                     Serge Gnabry

Harry Kane                                              Phil Foden (Sneaky Pick)

It is not long now till kick-off and the continent of Europe will be alive to the sounds of thumping tackles, dazzling goals, screaming fans and do not forget controversy that will have hearts racing and tongues flapping. All this culminating in the final under Wembley’s Arch on the 11th of July. If your team’s in the mix, Good Luck, Bonne Chance, Buena Suerte and Buona Fortuna.

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