Tough draw may be the only thing able to stop world champions
By Liam Flin
POWER RANKINGS are a familiar sight for fans of American sports but not commonplace on this side of the Atlantic. Every team in a particular league or competition is ranked form best to worst in an array of categories with each score added up to get an overall total. From here, as in each category, the teams can be ranked from top of the class to worst in show. Below I have ranked all 24 nations participating at this summer’s European Championship finals in 11 different categories ranging from how deep their squad is to whether they have received a favourable path through to continental glory. A score of one is awarded to the best team and 24 to the worst in each category. And like bookmakers, world champions France come out extremely favourably. Indeed, the only area in which they score poorly is the draw as Les Bleus are housed in the same section as fellow powerhouses Germany and reigning champions Portugal. Netherlands appear to have the best draw but an average midfield – they scored 12 on that metric – and below-par keeping options could be their downfall. As for favourites England, they come out well on squad depth and talent but they too have question marks between the sticks. Few sides can match the tournament pedigree of Germany but they enter manager Joachim Low’s final tournament at the helm in poor form – they scored 17 in this category – and while Manuel Neuer is still a force to be reckoned with in goal and they boast arguably the best engine room at the finals, defensively and up front they scored inferior to some of the other big nations. At the other end of the rankings, it could be a tough few weeks for Finland, who came out bottom in over a third of the categories. Denmark are many people’s ideas of dark horses and they ranked eighth overall, above the likes of the Dutch and 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.