After winning their Nations League fixture against World Champion Belgium this week, hopes are high in the England camp for Euro 2020. A solid team selection by Manager Gareth Southgate, avoiding the many 1-cap wonders he is wont to bring onboard, bore fruit during the 2-1 defeat of the Belgium national side.
Bear in mind, however, that the Belgium team – ranked the number 1 national team in the world – was missing its dazzling captain, Eden Hazard, and Dries Mertens who was stuck in Italy due to travel restrictions. The win was solid but England performance was patchy and there remains room for improvement, However, as the Euro tournament has been moved to 11 June – 11 July 2021 due to the pandemic, time is on Southgate’s side and the bookmakers make England favourite to win Euro 2020 with odds of 11/2 from 888Sport. The fact that the semi-finals and the final will be played on home turf, at Wembley Stadium, will be a huge motivator for Captain Harry Kane and his team-mates.
Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne, who played in the defeated Belgium side, has sportingly acknowledged England’s changes, recently saying “I think they should be very excited. It is a very young team with a lot of potential and I think they should aim to win the next Euros and World Cup – I think they have that potential”. He added “There are always a lot of teams who want to win it, but I think the team they have, the players who play in top clubs, they should do that”.
England have been drawn in Group C, along with Croatia, the Czech Republic and a play-off winner still to be determined. Not an easy start to the tournament, so the players will need to be performing at their top level from the off.
France will also be hungry to win the prestigious tournament, played only every four years, particularly as they lost 2-0 to Portugal in the 2016 Final. The 2018 World Cup holders have every reason to be confident of their chances of achieving a back-to-back victory and bookie Betway agrees, offering odds of 6/1 that they will lift the trophy, just a smidge away from the odds for England. French footballing legend, Thierry Henry, acknowledges the talent in the national side but strikes a note of caution. He recently commented “You know what I think about that team – they are my team, my country – I always want them to do well. Can they do it? I think so, but a lot of teams can win this tournament. Obviously people are tipping them to win this time, but a lot of teams are in with a chance of winning it”.
Belgium beat England twice at the 2018 World Cup and remain a huge threat to England’s chances, with bookie 888Sport giving odds of 7/1 that the Belgians will win Euro2020. Despite the world number 1 ranking, Belgium has never won a major tournament, coming third in the 2016 World Cup for example, and we expect that fact will drive the talented team deep into the latter stages of the Euro 2020 tournament. Their Group B opponents – Denmark, Finland and Russia – certainly represent a good opportunity for the Belgians to progress to the later stages.
Germany’s last major international win was the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup three years ago and the side remains a threat to England’s chances, with bookie Betway offering odds of 8/1. They are in a tough group – with France, Portugal and one further team (still to be decided) in Group F – but cannot be discounted as future winners of the tournament.
The Netherlands, too, are tipped to do well with identical odds of 8/1 from Spreadex and we expect them to perform well in Group C, against Ukraine, Austria and a play-off winner still to be established.
Italy and Portugal are the remaining teams in the top 8 of bookies’ favourites, leaving Croatia – losing finalists in the 2018 World Cup – out in the cold with odds of 33/1 from William Hill. Spain, the dominant force in European football until recently (winning the 2012 and 2016 Euros), are tipped at 8/1 with bookmaker William Hill. The postponement of the tournament will have been a blow for the veteran players – including captain Sergio Ramas, 34 years-old next year – of which there are a disproportionately high number in the side. The return of Manager Luis Enrique will re-energise the team and we expect Spain to perform well at the tournament with a draw in Group E, against Sweden, Poland and a third team still to be determined.
Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, a huge blow for the nation’s pride at the time, but have now put that disaster behind them with a decisive qualification campaign for Euro 2020. The team won all ten qualifying matches to top their group and will be pleased with the draw for Group A with Wales, Switzerland and Turkey being their opponents. None of the games will be easy but Italy are favourites to win the group and the talented young team may yet upset the apple-cart in the later stages of the tournament. Bookmaker 888Sport offers odds of 14/1 that Roberto Mancini’s side will cause a major upset and win the Final on 11 July.
Despite winning Euro 2016, defeating France 1-0 in the Final, Portugal are not fancied to win the tournament this time round, with odds of 16/1 from Bet365. Being drawn in the group stages with France and Germany is a blow for Manager Fernando Santos, making the challenge that bit harder, but captain Cristiano Ronaldo remains a potent force on the pitch despite his advancing years, and Portuguese fans will be hoping that his goal striking will prove decisive.
The Euro 2020 tournament will start on 11 June, promising a wonderful month of top-flight football for fans across the world. It will be hosted by 12 cities in 12 European countries, and matches will be played in Glasgow, London and Dublin. The twenty national sides already chosen will be joined by four play-off winners and the full line-up of countries will be available by completion of the play-offs in mid-November.