After…a year delay…the Euro 2020 finally starts today.
The tournament has had some unexpected winners throughout the years (Portugal, Greece, Denmark within the last 30). The truncated fixture list of the past year along with randomness of the knockout format lends itself to unexpected results.
Having said that, some squads are just too utterly loaded this year for any David-slaying-Goliath title results.
Here’s a look at the five teams who realistically can in the Euro 2020.
Euro 2020 title odds
First, a quick recap of Euro 2020 title odds.
|France +480||England +540||Belgium +750||Portugal +800||Germany +900|
|Italy +900||Spain +900||Netherlands +1500||Denmark +2500||Croatia +4000|
|Turkey +5000||Switzerland +6000||Sweden +7500||Poland +8000||Austria +10000|
|Russia +10000||Ukraine +10000||Czech Republic +12500||Wales +20000||Scotland +20000|
|Slovakia +40000||Finland +50000||Hungary +50000||North Macedonia +50000|
Who will win the Euro 2020?
Ultimately, the Euro 2020 winner will be one of these five countries: France, England, Belgium, Germany and Portugal.
Why only these five? Here are four reasons:
- Elite goal scorer(s) – Captain Obvious statement of the week: to make it through a tournament like the Euros, you need elite goal scorers. In 2016 and 2012, the finalists all had the tournament’s top scorer.
- Squad depth – The post-pandemic shortened fixture list has taxed player’s bodies. To survive and thrive at the Euros, country managers will need to rotate. A stable of fresh, injury-free legs is critical.
- Elite defending – Soccer is simple: score more and give up less than your opponent. The squads need serviceable goalkeepers and defenders who will limit big chances. Bend without breaking…or don’t break at all.
- Key players in their prime – The best squads always have the right mix of “been there before” veterans, emerging superstars, and players hitting or in the middle of their prime.
Now let’s look at how these countries line up with the above criteria.
- Elite goal scorers: France has an embarrassment of riches here. Kylian Mbappe defines elite. Antoine Griezmann has proven himself on the biggest international stages. Karim Benzema is coming off an incredible season at Real Madrid (though he picked up a knock last week). Didier Deschamps can lean on the likes of Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, or Olivier Giroud as fresh subs as well. This squad is loaded.
- Depth: Just look at the above names. Those are just the attacking options. And we didn’t mention N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, or Wissam Ben Yedder. Also importantly, some of the key contributors are “fresh” from either relatively light loads of playing time from the season (Kante, 4,200 minute played this season) or players with no European finals the past month (Mbappe, 4,650 minutes played).
- Elite defending: Adrien Rabiot, Clement Lenglet, Raphael Varane, and Lucas Digne are all high-level performers. Supposed weaker link Hugo Lloris still kept 12 Premier League clean sheets.
- Key players in their prime: If we cast a wide enough net and say primer years are around 24-29, most of France’s key roster land in that range. Players like Kante (30), Griezmann (30), and Mbappe (22) are not–but not by much.
The 2018 World Cup winners have the best roster in the Euro 2020 tournament. They know how to win. They should be favorites.
- Elite goal scorers: Harry Kane had the most goals AND assists in the Premier League this season. Just damn. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden, and Jack Grealish all had career years. Marcus Rashford knows how to fall down in the penalty box. Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho are young superstars capable of netting at any time. And we didn’t even mention Raheem Sterling (cause he is not in form).
- Depth: Uh, just look at those attacking options. However, midfield depth is a concern.
- Elite defending: A fit Harry Maguire paired with in form Luke Shaw is a promising start. Kyle Walker has the speed to keep pace with elite wings. However, the backline could’ve used Aaron Wan-Basaka to solidify the flanks. Big miss.
- Key players in their prime: Of the likely key contributors, many on England are just before or coming out of their primes. However, it shouldn’t matter much. England is loaded.
- Elite goal scorers: Romelu Lukaku is finally getting the respect he deserves. And Dries Mertens is always a threat. Eden Hazard is also always threat… to eat a Nutella crepe. Midfielders Kevin de Bruyne and Youri Tielemans are also capable of brilliance at any moment.
- Depth: While not as loaded as France or England, there are enough quality rotation options to rest their star starters.
- Elite defending: Things get dicey here. The backline is getting long in the tooth. Thibaut Courtois though is still a monster between the sticks.
- Key players in their prime: See above. This group is starting to age out some. Fitness concerns with KdB and Eden Hazard give pause to Belgium’s chances as well.
- Elite goal scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo’s ability to produce at the highest level in the biggest moments is without peer, even at 36. Diogo Jota, Joao Felix, and Bernando Silva are all elite scorers. Their attacking options are scary.
- Depth: This roster is loaded with elite talent. Better than their 2016 title winner.
- Elite defending: Ruben Dias winning PFA Player of the Year was a total joke, but he’s still a devastating defensive option. Same for Joao Cancelo. And Rui Silva gives them a solid option between the poles.
- Key players in their prime: Ronaldo is old af, but most of their other key contributors are in their prime years. Portugal should be second favorites along with England.
- Elite goal scorers: Germany is interesting here. While they don’t have a Harry Kane or Robert Lewandowski type, they have more players capable of scoring than just about any one. Timo Werner couldn’t finish a sentence for Chelsea this year, but he’s able to explode at any moment. Kai Havertz ended his first Chelsea campaign essentially as their striker and was in incredible form. [deep breath] Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, İlkay Gundogan, Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, even “defender” Emre Can are all threats. It’s an absurd amount of goal scoring talent.
- Depth: Uh, see above. That’s just offensive options.
- Elite defending: Manuel Neuer might be the best goalkeeper in the tournament. Antonio Rüdiger is a beast. Mats Hummels provides real leadership and savvy.
- Key players in their prime: Germany loses some points here, as many of their likely key starters are just hitting or just leaving their prime. But they’re in better shape than Belgium.
Who wins the Euro 2020?
Reread this post. ONE OF THESE FIVE TEAMS.
France is as loaded of a squad you’ll ever see. But if you’re looking for relative value, Portugal and Germany are both fully capable of pulling this off.
Expect this to be an absolutely thrilling tournament. Enjoy.