Who are the main contenders for UEFA Euro 2020?
The countdown has begun to the UEFA Euro 2020 competition, which has been long-awaited by football fans across the continent. The event which is hoped to be a celebration of European football across multiple host nations will be a unique concept. Which nations will adapt best to playing across multiple host countries and challenge for the Henry Delaunay Trophy? We look at five of the major contenders to win the UEFA European Championship.
France: Will the world champions reign supreme in Europe too?
It’s fair to say that France will begin the Euro 2020 competition as the team to beat. After all, they are the reigning world champions. From a French perspective, little has changed from the team that won the Jules Rimet Trophy in Russia three years ago. The heartbeat of their 2018 World Cup-winning side remains but boss Didier Deschamps will be mindful of the escalating injury list which could affect ‘Les Bleus’ at both ends of the pitch. The congested domestic campaign has caused many common football injuries to rear their ugly head. Being involved in the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ with Portugal and Germany could be the only thing that prevents them from challenging for continental honours.
Belgium: Is it now or never for this generation of Belgian stars?
After eventually securing third place at the 2018 World Cup finals, Belgium will be looking to go one further and compete for the Henry Delaunay Trophy this summer. There is an argument to suggest that the Belgian squad has improved since Russia 2018, with Thorgan Hazard slotting in seamlessly to the left flank and complementing older brother Eden who plays on the opposite wing. There is however a sense that Belgium needs to really go for it this summer, given that some of their stars are not getting any younger. Star striker Romelu Lukaku will be in his prime at 28 when the Euros take place, key playmaker Kevin De Bruyne will also be 29 by the end of this summer’s competition.
England: Could home advantage count for Gareth Southgate’s men?
England have never won a European Championships, so what better way to break their duck than by winning it on home soil? Wembley Stadium will be the venue of the Euro 2020 final and for all of England’s initial group stage games. Surely this will act as an inspiration to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions? England have developed into a fast, fluid attacking force in the last couple of years, with a dynamic forward line that’s up there with the best in the world let alone the continent. The fear for England will be facing the runner-up of the ‘Group of Death’ (France, Portugal or Germany) in the last 16 if they win Group D.
The Netherlands: Will the Dutch spine prove unstoppable?
The Netherlands is also bidding to return to the top table of European football having been in the doldrums for several years now. The Dutch are unlikely to be outscoring teams at will during Euro 2020 but they do have one of the most tried and tested spines of any European nation. Central defenders Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs De Ligt and midfielders Frenkie de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum are well capable of snuffing out the best European front lines. They’ve been handed a kind group in the shape of Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia which could also enable them to build some early momentum.
Italy: Has Mancini turned the Azzurri into the ‘great entertainers’?
In tournaments gone by, the Italians would never be discounted due to their dependable defence and ability to grind out wins in knock-out football. New coach Roberto Mancini has flipped the perception of the Azzurri on its head in their qualification campaign, winning all 10 of their group games and concluding with a goal difference of +33. It won’t be plain sailing for Italy in their group stage, with Turkey, Switzerland and Wales all capable of pulling off upsets on their day.
What can we expect from a Euro 2020 betting perspective?
There is every chance that we can expect a goal-fest European Championships, particularly if the domestic leagues are anything to go by. Football without fans in the last 12 months has seen an explosion of goals. In the opening 38 games in the English Premier League (EPL), some 144 goals had been scored at an average of 3.79 goals per game. It’s a whopping 40 goals more than at this stage of the 2019/20 EPL campaign. As the season has progressed, the goals per game figure has fallen but it’s still above average at the time of writing at 2.67 goals per game after 310 of the 380 EPL fixtures.
There is a sense that without capacity crowds, games lack the tension and drama of previous leagues and tournaments. Teams therefore attack with greater fluidity and defences are less switched-on as a result. It could be a great opportunity to find value odds in the Over/Under 2.5 goals markets which historically lean towards Unders at major international tournaments.