EURO 2020 Review

Adrian Holman

Soccer fans have been waiting for an entire year for the EURO 2020 tournament in Europe, but the games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, COVID-19 could not stop the Euros this time with play beginning on Friday.

Twenty-four countries will vie for the next month in order to see which team is the best team in Europe. The team that wins this competition will also become one of the favorites for the World Cup next year in Qatar.

The Group Stage is split into six groups of four teams apiece. All of the teams in each group will play each other once. After the three Group Stage games, the top two teams in each group along with the top four third-place teams with the most points will advance to the Round of 16. The tournament will then go to a win or go home format all the way to the final. Without further ado, let's take a look at all six groups for EURO 2020 even though it is 2021. The team that the player plays for professionally will be in parentheses.

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Group A

1. Italy. Italy is absolutely loaded once again for this EURO. As always, Italy is stout in defense with goalkeeper Gianlugi Donnarumma (AC Milan) and the Juventus defending duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. For a few years, Italy was not strong up front, but they have multiple options at midfield with Nico Barella (Inter Milan), Jorginho (Chelsea), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), and Marco Verratti (PSG). Up front, forward Ciro Immobile (Lazio) has a chance to become the top scorer in this tournament.

2. Turkey. Turkey has young defenders that have major experience in Zeki Celik (LOSC Lille), Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester City), and Ozan Kabak (Liverpool). The Turkish midfield has a few playmakers: Hakan Calhonoglu (AC Milan), Orkun Kokcu (Feyenoord), and Yusuf Yazici (LOSC Lille). The forwards will be led by veteran Burak Yilmaz (LOSC Lille). The ones that played at Lille surprised mostly everyone by winning French Ligue 1 this season, so they will be looking to surprise more fans at the Euros.

3. Switzerland. The Swiss has an experienced team with goalkeeper Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach) and with defenders Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Nico Elvedi (Monchengladbach), Kevin Mbabu (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schar (Newcastle), and Ricardo Rodriguez. Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) is the playmaker for Switzerland with Haris Seferovic (Benfica) and Breel Embolo (Monchengladbach) up front.

4. Wales. Wales was the surprise team in EURO 2016 by making it all the way to the semifinals. However, the other teams will be ready this time around. Forward Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) will have to put this team on his back again, but their defense has looked shaky in friendlies leading up to this tournament.

Group B

1. Belgium. Belgium is once again one of the favorites to win the Euros. However, the high standing in the eyes of the experts has not led to Belgium winning trophies in previous Euros and World Cups over the past decade. Belgium now has sights on winning the EURO with their main players being in the primes of their careers. Teams will have a tough time scoring on Belgium because they have to put the ball past goalkeeper Thibault Courtois (Real Madrid). Opposing teams will have trouble defending against Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), and Youri Tielemans (Leicester City). Belgium will also be helped by being in a relatively easy group.

2. Denmark. The Danes have a strong defense with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City) and with defenders Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Simon Kjaer (AC Miland), and Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton). The Danes are led by midfielder Christian Eriksen, who is their leading scorer. In a way, that is a good thing, but having the midfielder be their leading scorer means that their forwards are not scoring as they should.

3. Finland. The Finns will be in their games due to goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen) and the scoring up front from Teemu Pukki (Norwich City). Finland will be exposed at defense and in the midfield though.

4. Russia. Russia has a good midfield duo in Denis Cherysev (Valencia) and Aleksandr Golovin (Monaco) along with scoring threat Artem Dzyuba (Zenit). Their defense and their goalkeeping will be exposed immensely. Russia was the surprise team of the World Cup by reaching the quarterfinals in 2018. However, they will not be understimated this time around.

Group C

1. Netherlands. The Netherlands did not qualify for the Euros in 2016, but the Dutch are back strong this time around. The defense is good enough to not be outscored because this team will be looking to score plenty of goals at all times. The midfield is led by Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) and Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) with Memphis Depay (Lyon) up front. If you like scoring, then watch Netherlands games because they will score plenty of goals, but they also leave themselves open going all out for goals as well.

2. Austria. Austria has a well-balanced team with a solid defense led by David Alaba. Marcel Sabitzer (Red Bull Leipzig) runs the show in the midfield with Marko Arnautovic (Shanghai Port) and Sasa Kalajdzic (Stuttgart) up front looking to score goals. One of their strengths is their depth with most of the Austrians playing professionally in Germany.

3. Ukraine. Ukraine will be strong in goal with Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk). The defense is led by Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City). Key players up front will be midfielders Ruslan Malinovskyi (Atalanta) and Viktor Tsygankov (Dynamo Kyiv) and forwards Roman Yaremchuk (Gent) and Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham). Ukraine has the capability to pull an upset or two in this group.

4. North Macedonia. Congratulations to North Macedonia for qualifying for the Euros for the first time in their history. North Macedonia goes for goals as they look to get the ball to forward Goran Pandev (Genoa). This team will be forced to remain on the attack, but they could find themselves extremely exposed on defense.

Group D

1. England. England is one of the favorites to win because their team is stacked. Their attack will be one of the best in this tournament with forwards Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), and Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) along with midfielders Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Buyako Saka (Arsenal), and Jude Bellingham (Dortmund).

2. Croatia. Croatia will look to maintain their success after ending up in second place in the 2018 World Cup. They are still led by the stalwart midfielder Luka Modric (Real Madrid). The rest of the midfield is pretty strong as well with Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), and Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan). Croatia also has depth at forward with Ante Rebic (AC Milan), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), and Ante Budimir (Osasuna). The defense is solid, but weak link will be at goalkeeper.

3. Czech Republic. If you love sleeper teams, then root for Czech Republic. Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik (Sevilla) is outstanding in goal. The West Ham duo of defender Vladimir Coufal and midfielder Tomas Soucek lead at their positions with Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen) at forward looking to score goals. When a team has a pretty good player at all four positions on the pitch like the Czech Republic does, then expect for them to pull some upsets.

4. Scotland. Scotland's strengths will be at defense with Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), and Liam Cooper (Leeds) and at midfield with John McGinn (Aston Villa), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), and Billy Gilmour (Chelsea). Che Adams (Southampton) will have to put away all of the chances Scotland will create.

Group E

1. Sweden. Sweden's defense is OK, but their attack is outstanding. The midfield will remain in attack mode with depth galore with Jens-Lyn Cajuste (Midtjylland), Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar), Albin Ekdal (Sampdoria), Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus), Emil Forsberg (Red Bull Leipzig), Sebastian Larsson (AIK), Kristoffer Olsson (Krasnodar), Robin Quaison (Mainz), and Mattias Svanberg (Bologna). They will be setting up forwards Marcus Berg (Krasnodar) and Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad).

2. Poland. Poland appears to be an average team, but they have Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich). He is capable of outscoring teams on his own.

3. Slovakia. Slovakia have a good goalkeeper in Martin Dubravka (Newcastle) and a solid defense led by Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan). The key to this team is midfielder Marek Hamsik (IFK Goteborg), who is the team's playmaker.

4. Spain. You may be thinking, "Why do you have Spain in last place when they are always considered to be a favorite?" Well, you have not heard the news yet. Two players on Spain's team have contracted COVID-19 over the past week. Although the rest of the team has tested negative at this time, they all could test positive soon because they have been practicing together for the past few weeks. If they are disqualified, then Spain will end up in last place due to forfeiture because of the coronavirus. If the tests continue to come back negative for the rest of the team, then you can move Spain back to first in the group.

Group F

1. France. The World Cup champions are back with an even loaded team this time around to the point that they could legitimately field two teams. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) is finally back on the French squad up front with Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Marcus Thuram (Monchengladbach), and Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona). Paul Pogba (Manchester United) is back to set up all of these players while N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) ensures that the opposition will not be able to counterattack.

2. Portugal. The EURO defending champs are back with an even better team than in 2016 with Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), and Diogo Jota (Liverpool) up front. The midfield is outstanding with Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Sergio Oliveira (Porto), Renato Sanches (LOSC Lille), and William Carvalho (Real Betis). Plus, they have outstanding defense with Rui Patricio (Wolves) in goal with Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Pepe (Porto), and Raphael Guerreiro (Dortmund).

3. Germany. Germany is absolutely loaded as well with Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) in goal with Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea) and Mats Hummels (Dortmund) leading the defense. Scorers are all over the place up front with strikers Kai Havertz (Chelsea), Timo Werner (Chelsea), Kevin Volland (Monaco), and Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich). The midfield is absolutely stacked with Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), and Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City).

4. Hungary. When this group was announced, then everyone had compassion towards Hungary because they are going to be clobbered in all three games.

All of the rosters are listed at UEFA.com.

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