Euro 2020 locations
Covid-19 has had a huge effect on the Euros, not only delaying it by a year, but also eliminating some cities from hosting a game. The likes of Dublin and Bilbao were taken off the list as they couldn’t guarantee the attendance of fans.
In the end, 11 cities have been selected and they will allow around 25% of the stadium to be full, with Baku and St Petersburg considering 50% and Bucharest toying with the idea of filling the 54,000 capacity, Arena National.
As for the teams, they have been allowed to name a 26-man squad, but only 23 players can be selected on match-day. Spain have opted not to pick 26 players. Coach Luis Enrique doesn’t want to take someone who will definitely not play.
I expect this to be a tough group with three of the four teams making it through. Italy will begin as favourites, and should probably just nick the group.
I will be supporting Turkey, and have a very good feeling about our chances to make the latter stages. Turkey have a more balanced squad, with a great coach. The game against Switzerland will be a tasty one, especially with the history between the two sides.
Wales are just not as good as what people think. They have quality amongst their ranks, but the semi-final in 2016 was just a freak occurrence for me. It’s why I am begrudgingly picking Switzerland to finish third and go through as one of the four, third-placed teams. Wouldn’t be shocked if Wales went through in third, though.
Belgium are one of the favourites to go all the way, and I expect them to hit the ground running. If Kevin De Bruyne is fit, then it’s an added boost. Even without him, they have way too much firepower.
Denmark are the best of the rest, so should pip Russia, with Finland – the second-lowest ranked team in the competition – finishing at the bottom.
- North Macedonia
Three average nations. The games may well be exciting, but none of these teams will be there come the end of the tournament unless they get very lucky along the way. Ukraine are the most complete side of the three, even though the Netherlands has the better players. Due to Virgil Van Dijk’s injury, the Dutch haven’t been the same side.
I can honestly say that I know nothing about the North Macedonians, apart from what anyone else can research. Personally, I don’t think we will need to know much about them.
- Czech Republic
England and Croatia are at different points of their national rotation of players, with the new generation coming in for England, and the golden generation going to an end for the Croats. Both teams are likely to dominate this group with the other two nations playing to see who finishes third.
Poland have the best player, and Spain have the best team. The two will likely advance, with Sweden joining them. Sweden could cause an upset, as they have a tendency to stifle the opposition. If they can stay tight at the back, then anything could happen.
What a group this is! Three big hitters, who will all be Hungary for success (no regrets). France are by far the best team in the world even though FIFA clearly disagrees. If they avoid in-fighting, then they will not only win the group, but the entire competition.
Portugal are a more consistent side now. Although they don’t have as good a team as back in the early 2000’s, they have Cristiano Ronaldo. Yes, he is 36 years old, but still as prolific as ever. Plus, his name on the team sheet gives the others in the side a sense of added belief.
Germany have to rebuild. They will need a draw against one of the big two if they are to qualify. Defensively they are too fragile and going forward, too wasteful. Bad combination.
As for Hungary, they have to feel aggrieved at being in such a group. They need to get three draws and hope for the best.
Round of 16
If all goes to plan, and my predictions are correct, the round of 16 would look something like this:
(Winner in BOLD)
Belgium vs Sweden – Too powerful going forward
Italy vs Netherlands – A close tie, that will be won by a late goal by someone like Ciro Immobile
France vs Switzerland – The best team in the competition
Croatia vs Poland – Better team and finals know-how will get them through
Spain vs Austria – Austria are a one-man team
England vs Portugal – This could go all the way to penalties
Ukraine vs Germany – An edgy game, but Germany should have too much
Turkey vs Denmark – Player for player, Turkey are better
(Winner in BOLD)
Belgium vs Italy – Italy will lose control of the midfield, and that will not help when trying to stop Romelu Lukaku, who knows how to play against Italian defenders.
France vs Croatia – Repeat of the 2018 World Cup final. France have improved and Croatia hasn’t.
Spain vs Portugal – These two tend to play out tight games, or a goal-fest. Let’s hope for the latter. Ronaldo will be the difference.
Germany vs Turkey – Will be a close. Either team could win, but I think Turkey just edges it thanks to a heroic performance by defenders Caglar Soyuncu and Merih Demiral.
(Winner in BOLD)
Belgium vs France – Top two teams in the world, plenty of talent, this is going to be a great game for neutrals. I just think Griezzman, Benzema and Mbappe will have too much for an ageing Belgian defence.
Portugal vs Turkey – Another tight game, with Portugal winning on penalties.
(Winner in BOLD)
France vs Portugal – A repeat of 2016 final. This time, France will not make the same mistake.
Overtime Sports Euro Special – Final – Overtime Sports Podcast Euro Special
Chloe Chadwicks Predictions
The top two teams from each group plus the four best-third teams will progress into the last 16 knockouts. My predictions for this are:
Group A: 1st – Italy 2nd – Wales
Group B: 1st – Belgium 2nd – Denmark
Group C: 1st – Netherlands 2nd – Austria
Group D: 1st – Croatia 2nd – England
Group E: 1st – Spain 2nd – Sweden
Group F: 1st – Portugal 2nd – France
Top four third-place teams: Switzerland, Russia, Poland and Germany.
Last 16 knockouts
- 2A vs 2B / Wales vs Denmark = Wales
- 1A vs 2C / Italy vs Austria = Italy
- 1C vs 3D/E/F / Netherlands vs Scotland/Poland/Germany = Germany
- 1B vs 3A/D/E/F / Belgium vs Switzerland/Scotland/Poland/Germany = Belgium
- 2D vs 2E / England vs Sweden = England
- 1F vs 3A/B/C / Portugal vs Switzerland/Russia/Ukraine = Portugal
- 1D vs 2F / Croatia vs France = France
- 1E vs 3A/B/C/D / Spain vs Switzerland/Russia/Ukraine/Scotland = Spain
The reason that I think these 8 teams will advance to the next round is that based on previous recent performances, they are the ones who have the most star talent and work collectively better together as a team.
Squads like Spain and Portugal also have a lot of attacking prowess which could prove vital when it comes to bagging goals in order to win those important games.
QF1 – Winner 6 vs Winner 5 / Portugal vs England = Portugal
QF2 – Winner 4 vs Winner 2 / Belgium vs Italy = Belgium
QF3 – Winner 3 vs Winner 1 / Germany vs Wales = Germany
QF4 – Winner 8 vs Winner 7 / Spain vs France = France
SF1 – Winner QF2 vs Winner QF1 / Belgium vs Portugal = Belgium
SF2 – Winner QF4 vs Winner QF3 / France vs Germany = France
I think that France will make it to Wembley Stadium because they will still be high on confidence after winning the World Cup against Croatia back in 2018 and compared to Germany who I feel have slightly underachieved these past few years, Didier Deschamps’ side have strength in all the key areas of the pitch and in my opinion can see out a game a lot easier.
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2 / Belgium vs France
I can’t predict who would win the final if it was between these two teams because it’s no secret that France have won the competition twice before and are fully capable of doing it again but I think that Belgium also have enough individual quality in their squad to help them reach the end.