Joe Citrone, Harry Currall and Brandon Prangell discuss this summer’s European Championship.
Who will win the tournament, how well will England do, and which player will pick up the Golden Boot as top goal scorer?
Joe Citrone, Harry Currall and Brandon Prangell discuss this summer’s European Championship.
Who will win the tournament, how well will England do, and which player will pick up the Golden Boot as top goal scorer?
The Three Lions topped Group A in the qualifiers, suffering just one loss: a 2-1 away defeat against the Czech Republic. They are among the favourites to lift the trophy next summer, but it would be their first European title.
England have reached the Euro finals on 10 occasions, their best finish being third place in 1968, when Italy hosted. They have failed to make the knockout stages on four occasions, and in 2016 were famously beaten in the last 16 by tournament minnows and debutants Iceland.
In Group D, the Three Lions will again meet their Czech opponents from qualifying. Apart from October’s loss, they have beaten them in their three other encounters. Against Croatia, England have won five out of 10 meetings, but they ended English hopes in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If Scotland qualify, they will resume the oldest rivalry in international football, having played England 114 times. England have won both of their two matches against Israel, their only game against Serbia, and defeated Norway in seven of their 12 meetings.
Coach: Gareth Southgate has now been England’s manager for three years. At the 2018 World Cup, he led them to the final four, giving young talent a chance – having been England’s Under-21s boss – and signalling that the Three Lions could become a major force again.
Key player: Tottenham’s Harry Kane will be crucial to England’s hopes next summer, To date, he has 32 goals in 45 international appearances, with 12 of those coming in eight Euro 2020 qualifiers. He also became the first English player to score in every match of a qualifying campaign. Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup with six goals, and will surely be among the favourites to be the top scorer at Euro 2020.
Croatia were runners-up to France at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and topped their Euro qualifying group with just one loss. It will be their sixth appearance in the tournament, their best finish being as quarter-finalists. At Euro 2016 in France, they were eliminated by eventual winners Portugal in the last 16, and could face them again in next summer’s second round, depending on results.
Having defeated England in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, Croatia lost to them in the Uefa Nations League group stage. Croatia has never lost to the Czechs in their three meetings, and have one victory and a draw in their two games against fierce rivals Serbia. They are unbeaten in nine against Israel, and have had three victories, a draw, and a loss against Norway. They have yet to beat the Scots in five encounters.
Coach: After guiding Croatia to their first-ever World Cup final in 2018, Zlatko Dalic is a national hero at home. Since taking the job in 2017, his team have only suffered seven losses in 30 games.
Key player: At 34, skipper Luka Modric remains Croatia’s main man. The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is his nation’s second most-capped player, with 127 appearances, only seven behind Darijo Srna. The Real Madrid and former Spurs star pulls the strings in midfield and is also a goal threat.
The Czechs have qualified for every Euro finals since 1996, when they were runners-up to Germany. The also sealed third place in 2004, but at Euro 2016 they failed to make it out of their group. They finished second behind England in qualifying Group A.
To date, they have lost two of their four meetings against the Three Lions, and have never beaten Croatia. Against their potential play-off path opponents, however, they have better records. The Czechs have only lost to Scotland twice in seven meetings, only once in seven against Norway, and have won both their games against Israel. Against the Serbs, they have a win and a defeat.
Coach: The former Czech international Jaroslav Silhavy took charge of the national team in September 2018. He also served as assistant coach from 2001 to 2009. Silhavy has won Czech league titles with Slovan Liberec and Slavia Prague, and the national team have eight victories in 14 games under him.
Key player: Forward Patrik Schick scored seven times during qualifying. Capped 19 times, the 23-year-old has nine goals in total and looks set to be his country’s main source of firepower next summer.
Norway finished behind Spain and Sweden in their qualifying group, with two wins and three draws. Their only previous appearance at a Euro finals came in 2000, when their trip ended at the group stage.
Their only match to date against Serbia ended in a draw. Against Israel, they have had a win and a loss. Scotland have proved tricky opponents down the years, with nine losses, six draws, and only three wins in their 18 meetings.
Serbia were in Group B in the qualifying stage and notched up four wins in eight games. They have never previously qualified for the European Championship but have unbeaten records against Israel and Scotland.
Scotland have not qualified for a Euro finals since 2000, and in their two tournaments to date have never reached the knock-out stages. They have a good record against Israel, losing just once in five previous meetings. The Scots have the incentive of matches being played on home turf at Hampden Park in Glasgow if they make it through to the finals.
Israel will make history if they can reach the Euro 2020 as it will be the first time they have qualified. Their only previous appearance at a major football tournament was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Israeli forward Eran Zahavi had 11 goals in qualifying, the same as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Norway v Serbia 26/03/2020, 17:00
Scotland v Israel 26/03/2020, 19:45
The team which tops Group D will meet one in the next round from Group F, which includes France, Germany. Whoever finishes second could play either Portugal or Spain from the Group F in the last 16.
England v Croatia 14/06/20, 14:00, Wembley Stadium
TBD v Czech R 15/06/20, 14:00, Hampden Park
Croatia v Czech R 19/06/20, 17:00, Hampden Park
England v TBD 19/06/20, 20:00, Wembley Stadium
Croatia v TBD 23/06/20, 20:00, Hampden Park
Czech R v England 23/06/20 20:00, Wembley
Hampden Park photo by Justin Green via Flickr Creative Commons under licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Next summer’s Euro 2020 will take place 60 years after the inaugural tournament, and to mark the anniversary, Uefa has decided to celebrate with “a party throughout Europe”. Matches will be played in 12 cities in a dozen countries across the continent.
For a month, beginning on 12th June, Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, Munich, Rome, St Petersburg and London will host games, culminating in the semi-finals and final at Wembley Stadium.
The last time Wembley hosted a European Championship final (at the old stadium), Germany won their first title as a unified nation, beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 thanks to a ‘golden goal’.
Group F at Euro 2020 is made up of Portugal, France, Germany and the winner from play-off path A: Iceland, Bulgaria, Hungary or Romania. Games in this group will be played in Munich at the Allianz Arena and in Budapest at Puskás Arena. If Hungary qualifies, a draw will be made to decide which venue will host Germany and Hungary’s Group F encounter.
Portugal are the defending champions, having beaten hosts France to win in 2016. They have always survived the first round of matches since 1984 and have reached the final four on five occasions. As hosts in 2004, they reached the final but lost to surprise package Greece.
France have won the European title twice, in 1984 and 2000, second only to Spain and Germany who have won three titles each. Led Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini, France won their first title on home soil in 1984, and in 2000 won their second in Belgium, led by FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane. They suffered first-round eliminations in 1992 and 2008.
Germany competed in five tournaments as West Germany and, since 1990, have played in seven as a unified nation. They will be the hosts in 2024. The Germans have three European titles, in 1972 (Belgium), 1980 (Italy) and England (1996).
They have only finished outside of the tournament’s top eight on two occasions, in 2000 and 2004, but have appeared in a record nine finals.
The forth team in the group will only be known in March 2020 after the play-offs.
Iceland only reached their first European Championship in 2016. They came second in their group, winning against Austria and drawing against Portugal. In the round of 16, they beat England 2–1 in an historic victory, but then lost 5-2 to hosts France in the quarter-finals.
Bulgaria have qualified twice, in 1996 and in 2004, but failed on both occasions to make it beyond the first round. They lost all three matches in 2004, but achieved a victory and a draw in 1996.
Hungary have appeared at three Euro finals. In 1964, they finished third, and at Euro 1972 they placed fourth. Four years ago, they reached the round of 16.
Romania have played in five European Championships and are the more experienced team in this play-off path. They have played in every tournament since 1984, with their best performance coming in 2000, when they reached the quarter-finals, only to be eliminated by eventual runners-up Italy.
In the group stage, the top two will go through automatically, plus the best four third-placed teams.
16/6/20 17:00 X v Portugal
16/6/20 20:00 France v Germany
20/6/20 14:00 X v France
20/6/20 17:00 Portugal v Germany
24/6/20 20:00 Germany v X
26/6/20 20:00 Portugal v France
Round of 16:27/6/20 – 30/6/20
Quarter finals: 3/7/20 – 4/7/20
Semi finals: 7/7/20 – 8/7/20
Allianz Arena photo by Werner Kuntz via Flickr Creative Commons, licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
After failing to qualify for the 2016 Euros, the Danes will be looking to impress this time around. All three of their group stage matches will be played at the 38,000 capacity Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, giving them an extra advantage.
Denmark went unbeaten during qualification, finishing second in their group behind Switzerland. Their star player is undoubtedly Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen. The midfielder has scored 31 goals in 95 appearances for his country so far and his form will play a major part in determining how successful their campaign will be.
Captain Simon Kjær is also a vital player for the Scandinavians. The Sevilla centre-back has spent the season so-far on loan at Atalanta, and is likely to reach the 100 cap milestone during the championships next summer.
One of Denmark’s most underrated squad members is 28-year-old midfielder Thomas Delaney, who has been one of the Bundesliga’s stand-out players in recent seasons. He joined Borussia Dortmund from Werder Bremen in 2018 and is a regular in Die Schwarzgelben’s midfield.
As well as being packed with experience, Denmark also have plenty of youth to call upon. Kasper Dolberg joined Nice from Ajax in the summer and the 22-year-old has already amassed 17 appearances for the Danes. 21-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward Jacob Bruun Larsen made his debut last summer and will be pushing for a place in the squad, as will young Bournemouth midfielder Philip Billing, who is yet to win his maiden cap.
While Denmark’s recent record in the competition is not great, they famously won the Euros in 1992, despite failing to qualify. After Yugoslavia were kicked out, the Danes were selected to replace them, going on to beat Germany 2-0 in the final to create one of the most famous shocks in international football history.
Finland will compete at their first ever major tournament next summer, after finishing second behind Italy in their qualifying group. Considered the weakest side in the group, they will need to get off to a good start in their opening fixture, the Nordic derby against Denmark, to give themselves a chance of reaching the knockout stages.
Whilst their squad doesn’t contain many household names, one is Norwich striker Teemu Pukki. The 29-year-old was top scorer in the Championship last season as the Canaries won the title, and got off to a superb start in the Premier League, winning August’s Player of the Month award in a month which included him netting a hat-trick.
The Fins will be pinning much of their hopes upon Pukki to score the goals to bring them success at the tournament, but he is not the only talented player within their ranks. Former Arsenal midfielder Glen Kamara has impressed in Scotland since joining Rangers and will be a key part of their plans next summer.
Captain Tim Sparv is amongst their most experienced players, and the midfielder will face the country where he plays in their opening game, with the 32-year-old currently at Danish side Midtjylland. Goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký is another of their more accomplished players; he joined Bayer Leverkusen from Eintracht Frankfurt in 2018.
Undoubtedly favourites to finish top of the group, and arguably to win the competition outright, Belgium have a squad stacked full of talent which they hope will help them improve on their previous European Championship performances.
Belgium reached the semi-finals in 1972 and the final in 1980, where they lost 2-1 to West Germany, but have only qualified for three tournaments between then and next summer’s competition. They will be looking to build upon both their performance in France 2016, where they reached the quarter-finals, and the 2018 World Cup where they secured a third placed finish.
Among the star names manager Roberto Martinez has to call upon are Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard.
De Bruyne has been nothing short of sensational since joining City from Wolfsburg in 2015 and will be looking to continue that form at Euro 2020. He has already featured in three major tournaments for the Red Devils and was named in the 2018 World Cup team of the tournament.
Real Madrid’s Hazard is another big name certain to be included in their squad. The captain, who moved to Madrid last summer following seven seasons at Chelsea, has also featured in three major tournaments and won the World Cup Silver Ball in 2018. He has won over 100 caps for his country, scoring 32 goals in the process.
Romelu Lukaku is arguably Belgium’s third most influential player. The striker, who left Manchester United to join Inter Milan last summer, boasts an incredible goal record in international football, scoring 52 goals in just 84 games. He has similarly played in the last three major tournaments for Belgium and scored four goals at the 2018 World Cup.
Belgium also boast an impressive crop of young talent, with perhaps none as impressive as Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans. He earned a permanent move to the Foxes for £40m last summer having impressed on a six-month loan spell from Monaco, and will surely have a big part to play in next summer’s tournament.
Belgium will open with a clash against Russia in St Petersburg; they also met in qualifying where Belgium won both their meetings en route to topping the group.
Russia, who qualified for the tournament after finishing second behind Belgium, will play two of their three group games at home in the 68,000 capacity Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg.
Competing as the Soviet Union, they won the first ever European Championships in France in 1960, which was followed by two final appearances and a semi-final. However, since competing as Russia, they have failed to get out of the group stage all bar once, when they reached the semi-finals in 2008.
Almost their entire squad play at home in the Russian Premier League, with just a few notable exceptions. One of these is Monaco midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, who joined the French side from CSKA Moscow in 2018. The 23-year-old is arguably Russia’s most talented player, and much of his nations hopes will rest upon his shoulders.
Golovin is not the only talent within the Russian squad, however. Valencia winger Denis Cheryshev was one of the stars of the 2018 World Cup, scoring four goals as Russia reached the quarter-final stages. The former Real Madrid player will be hoping to play another starring role and his goals will be crucial to determining how far they can go.
Russia’s main threat up front however will be 31-year-old striker Artem Dzyuba. The Zenit St Petersburg frontman has 24 goals in 42 appearances for his country, including three at the last World Cup and eight in qualification. While he might be getting on a bit, his physical presence will be no less of a threat next summer.
June 13 – Denmark vs Finland – Copenhagen
June 13 – Belgium vs Russia – St Petersburg
June 17 – Denmark vs Belgium – Copenhagen
June 18 – Finland vs Russia – St Petersburg
June 22 – Russia vs Denmark – Copenhagen
June 22 – Finland vs Belgium – St Petersburg
Copenhagen Stadium image by Валерий Дед for Creative Commons
Eriksen image by Дмитрий Неймырок/Dmitriy Neymyrok/Dmitrij Nejmyrok for Creative Commons
Sparv image by Petteri Lehtonen for Creative Commons
Belgium image by Эдгар Брещанов for Creative Commons
Russia image by Кирилл Венедиктов for Creative Commons
Group C consists of Austria, the Netherlands, Ukraine plus one team from the play-offs.
Ranking: 26th (Fifa); 16th (Uefa)
Against the Netherlands: W-6 D-4 L-9 S-24 C-36
Against Ukraine: W-1 D-0 L-1 S-4 C-4
Key Player – Marcel Sabitzer: The attacking midfielder is one of several key contributors for Das Team, getting two goals and five assists in nine games for his country as they finished behind winners Poland in Euro qualifying Group G.
Next summer’s European Championship will only be the third time that Austria have made it to the Euros, the first being in 2008 when they co-hosted with Switzerland. The team, currently managed by Franco Foda, have never gone beyond the group stage.
In fact, they have only ever got one point from each of the other two Euros for which they have qualified. This time round, they sealed their spot at next summer’s tournament by beating Macedonia 2-1 in a must-win game, courtesy of goals from David Alaba and Stefan Lainer.
Ranking: 14th (Fifa); 9th (Uefa)
Against Ukraine: W-1 D-1 L-0 S-4 C-1
Against Austria: W-9 D-4 L-6 S-36 C-24
Key Player – Virgil Van Dijk: The Dutch skipper is one of three defenders to make the Ballon D’Or shortlist. He has been an important cog for club side Liverpool, helping them to win the Champions League last season, following a runners-up finish the year before.
Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands are favourites to win Group C, having been reinvigorated following their failure to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This will be the 10th time they have featured in the Euro finals, with the Dutch winning the trophy in West Germany in 1988.
The one criticism of the Oranje is that they lack a top-level recognised striker, with the majority of their goals being supplied by Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay. The pair scored 24 in qualifying, including scoring six in the two matches against Germany, who topped the group.
Ranking: 24th (Fifa); 15th (Uefa)
Against Austria: W-1 D-0 L-1 S-4 C-4
Against the Netherlands: W-0 D-1 L-1 S-1 C-4
Key Player – Andriy Pyatov: The 93-cap international is currently Ukraine’s captain. In their 2-2 draw with Serbia, he became the most-capped goalkeeper for his team. Pyatov is a legend of the game in Ukraine and has made 443 appearances for Shakhtar Donetsk, conceding just 370 goals and winning nine league titles with them.
Ukraine’s form was lifted when their most famous former player, Andriy Shevchenko, finally took the manager’s role after refusing it several times previously. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, though only finished three points off of Croatia.
This time out in qualifying, Shevchenko’s men topped Group B with two games to spare after beating favourites Portugal 2-1. Roman Yaremchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko scored, before a late scare from Cristiano Ronaldo, ensuring a place in a major tournament for the third time.
In terms of who makes the knockout stages, it is likely to be a scrap between Ukraine and Austria for second place behind the Dutch. Both could make it through as one of the best third-placed teams, but both would be in the knockout phase for the first time.
The final team will be the Winner of Path D in the play-offs (Georgia; Belarus; North Macedonia; Kosovo) – unless Romania win Path A containing Iceland, Bulgaria and Hungary.
Georgia: 91st (Fifa), 38th (Uefa); Belarus 87th (Fifa), 37th (Uefa); North Macedonia: 68th (Fifa), 36th (Uefa); Kosovo: 115th (Fifa), 46th (Uefa); Romania: 37th (Fifa), 22nd (Uefa).
Georgia – Jaba Kankava: Captain of his national team, the experienced defensive midfielder is currently is playing for Tobol in the Kazakhstan Premier League. He has played over 80 times for his country and he featured in Ligue 1 for Stade de Reims a couple of years ago.
Belarus – Syarhey Palitsevich: He is one of many experienced faces in the Belarusian camp, having been capped 31 times. Currently, the centre-back is playing for Kairat Almaty, recent runners-up in Kazakhstan Premier League.
North Macedonia – Goran Pandev: Pandev is a legend in his home country – not only is he the most-capped player with 108, he is also their all-time top scorer with 34 goals. Despite having turned 36, if his country made it through, he would likely be selected for one final hurrah.
Kosovo – Milot Rashica: The Werder Bremen star made the switch to featuring for Kosovo after playing twice for Albania. His debut for them came in August 2016 against Finland.
Romania – Ciprian Tătărușanu: The experienced ‘keeper is his team’s most capped star and has experience from featuring in 2016 European Championships in France. He has spent the last couple of years in the top flights of Italy and France.
Sunday 14 June (all kick-offs Central European Time):
Austria v Play-off winner D or A (18:00, Bucharest)
Netherlands v Ukraine (21:00, Amsterdam)
Thursday 18 June:
Ukraine v Play-off winner D or A (15:00, Bucharest)
Netherlands v Austria (21:00, Amsterdam)
Monday 22 June:
Play-off winner D or A v Netherlands (18:00, Amsterdam)
Ukraine v Austria (18:00, Bucharest)
Round of 16:
Saturday 27 June: 1A v 2C (21:00, London)
Sunday 28 June: 1C v 3D/E/F (18:00, Budapest)
Monday 29 June: 1F v 3A/B/C (21:00, Bucharest)
Tuesday 30 June: 1E v 3A/B/C/D (21:00, Glasgow)
Friday 3 July: Winner 6 v Winner 5 (18:00, Saint Petersburg); Winner 4 v Winner 2 (21:00, Munich)
Saturday 4 July: Winner 3 v Winner 1 (18:00, Baku); Winner 8 v Winner 7 (21:00, Rome)
Tuesday 7 July: Winner QF2 v Winner QF1 (21:00, London)
Wednesday 8 July: Winner QF4 v Winner QF3 (21:00, London)
Sunday 12 July- Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (21:00, London)
Key:W= Won; D= Draw; L= Lost; S= Scored; C= Conceded
National Arena, Bucharest, main photo by Carpathianland via Flickr Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC 2.0.Amsterdam Arena photo by Javier Novo Rodriguez via Flickr Creative Commons, licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0