Racing Post - Euro 2020 - 2021-06-03




Who will win Euro 2020? An opening group game in Munich is far from ideal on paper but France look to have the quality to not only overcome that match but to go all the way and add to their 2018 World Cup success. ENGLAND have the deepest squad and potentially home advantage in all but one game were they to win their group and make it to the final. If 90,000 fans are allowed in Wembley as is hoped later in the tournament, then they should be clear favourites. There are weaknesses in every squad, but World Cup winners France have the least so I would reluctantly side with them. PORTUGAL. The reigning champions have a significantly better squad than when they won it in 2016 and if they get to the latter stages in the UK where most of their players ply their trade, they will be hard to stop. World champions France look the rightful favourites to add the European crown to their World Cup triumph of three years ago but at the current prices a resurgent Italy look the best value. ITALY. Roberto Mancini has a squad mixed with experience and youth, playing a more expansive brand of football than previous Italian teams with wise warriors at the back and plenty of goals in attack. I find it hard to look past France. They are a team with few weaknesses who have retained the core of the squad who were successful in Russia in 2018. It is worth remembering that they won the World Cup with relative ease and could be an even better side for the addition of Karim Benzema. FRANCE are worthy favourites. They have a squad packed with depth and quality and any questions over their mentality disappeared with their impressive World Cup victory. Which outsider could go well? Finishing second in Group A could be ideal for Turkey, who are managed by someone who knows how to go far in a showpiece tournament. They were defensively sound in qualifying and boast a Lille contingent who will be full of confidence after their Ligue 1 triumph. CZECH REPUBLIC went off at short prices in their World Cup qualifiers, they play an England team who may have already qualified in their last group game, and if they come second or third they could have a favourable route to the semis. I like Denmark but the price has long gone so I’ll chance Austria. They have some experienced defenders and a proper goalscorer in Sasa Kalajdzic to boot. DENMARK have a strong squad of players based mainly in the top European leagues. They drew with eventual winners France at the World Cup before going out on penalties to finalists Croatia. I think that Austria, Switzerland and Russia are all overpriced at the moment. DENMARK have been impressive over the last 12 months. Kasper Hjulmand has added goals to his squad, and with Christian Eriksen pulling the stings in midfield, they could repeat the heroics of their 1992 counterparts. Sweden look overpriced at 100-1. They will be well-organised defensively under coach Janne Andersson and have two of Europe’s most promising attacking talents in Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad and Dejan Kulusevski of Juventus. The latter stages should be fought out by those top of the market but, with a kind last-16 draw, either UKRAINE or TURKEY have the ability to reach the quarter-finals. Who is the best lay of the market leaders? Preparations for the Euros have hardly been ideal so I’m happy to oppose Germany, even with home advantage. Spain may also struggle to get past the quarter-finals. Kevin De Bruyne will struggle to fully recover from the injuries he sustained in the Champions League final before the end of the tournament and BELGIUM have a hard group in any case. They look too short in the winner and Group B betting. Spain look very short to me. Luis Enrique’s defence looks depleted in comparison to previous squads that have gone all the way. BELGIUM look short and would need a massive turnaround of form from Eden Hazard to support their price. I don’t think they are ideally balanced and are perhaps overly reliant on Romelu Lukaku up top. Given their record at major tournaments and with question marks over their goalkeeper and central defence, England look short enough to me. GERMANY have suffered some indifferent and demoralising results since qualifying and they are drawn in this year’s group of death. Joachim Low’s team could be set for a repeat of Russia 2018, where they failed to escape the group. Netherlands. Much like Liverpool in the Premier League, the loss of Virgil van Dijk is a huge blow to this team and their attacking options are not on the same level as their main rivals. They look too short to win Group C. They still possess huge quality but GERMANY have questions to answer. A terrible 2018 World Cup campaign followed by a number of worrying results makes others more appealing. Who will finish as the top goalscorer? Antoine Griezmann proved at Euro 2016 that you don’t have to fill your boots in the group stage to win this. However, Romelu Lukaku looks to have a perfect opportunity to get off to a flyer in Group B and Belgium’s goal machine can kick on from there. CIRO IMMOBILE could be a runner at a tasty price given that Italy have one of the easiest groups and a relatively easy route to the final compared to some of the other big nations. Memphis Depay looks a good bet. He can take advantage of a relatively easy group where the Netherlands have three home games, and he also takes the penalties. HARRY KANE is a worthy favourite. England are in a relatively soft group and, as the penalty taker, he has a massive chance to add to his recent Golden Boots in the Premier League and World Cup. Romelu Lukaku is well fancied after a tremendous season with Serie A champions Inter but is still a decent each-way price. At bigger odds, Russia striker Artem Dzyuba can be a real handful for defenders at times. Netherlands have been drawn in a favourable group and MEMPHIS DEPAY could benefit, while Italy’s Ciro Immobile should also be near the top of the scoring charts. This looks an open heat outside of Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane so I’ll take a speculative punt on Ferran Torres at 33-1 or better. Torres has an excellent goalscoring record for Spain under Luis Enrique and showed flashes of huge ability when he got the chance for Manchester City. ROMELU LUKAKU is coming off the best two seasons of his career and should get plenty of opportunities to stake his claim in what should be a routine group win for Belgium. Give us the best bets in Groups A&B? All my eggs are in the Turkey basket with Burak Yilmaz and co taken to qualify from Group A, while Belgium can overcome trips to St Petersburg and Copenhagen to land the honours in Group B. DENMARK TO WIN GROUP B. They have improved a lot and home advantage will be massive, especially given that Belgium will be based at home so will travel to St Petersburg, then Copenhagen, then St Petersburg again for their group games. In Group A, Kieffer Moore to be top Wales goalscorer is a bet. He could easily claim the spoils with one goal! In Group B, the Belgium-denmark straight forecast appeals. Denmark have been well backed but I still expect Belgium to top the group. WALES NOT TO QUALIFY from Group A. As a Spurs fan I wouldn’t want to be going into a tournament being this reliant on Gareth Bale. DENMARK TO WIN Group B. They have a decent side and I’m not convinced about the balance of this Belgian outfit. In Group A, I think the Swiss may follow Italy home so will go for the Italy-switzerland dual forecast. As for Group B, I’ll go for an upset and Belgium to finish bottom .I’m not convinced by them and it is a trickier section than it first appears. The ITALY-TURKEY STRAIGHT FORECAST looks a bet in Group A while DENMARK could surprise a few by winning Group B. Wales to qualify from Group A. I think they are a little underrated in the market especially with Gareth Bale coming off a season with the best goals-per-minute ratio in the Premier League. He should be well rested too. WALES NOT TO QUALIFY from Group A and BELGIUM TO WIN Group B are both available at 5-6 and both look overpriced. What about in C&D? Let’s throw a couple of darts at North Macedonia and Scotland to qualify. I’m yet to be convinced by Netherlands, Ukraine or Austria, while Scotland could bloody the noses of Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden in Group D. I’ve no bets for these groups, I think the markets are mostly right. Austria could spring a surprise as on paper they’ve strength in every position, but they’ve been poorly managed and are yet to live up to their potential. In Group C, Memphis Depay top Netherlands goalscorer is decent value. I just don’t see anyone getting close to him. Scotland to finish bottom of Group D – regardless of any home advantage, their squad is comfortably the worst in the group. AUSTRIA TO QUALIFY from Group C, likely at the expense of Ukraine and North Macedonia. In Group D, SCOTLAND TO WIN ZERO POINTS appeals. If they lose their opening match against the Czech Republic, they are unlikely to get anything against England or Croatia. I don’t really fancy the Dutch so I’d go Netherlands to finish bottom of Group C and Czech Republic to win Group D – they may surprise a few people over the course of the next few weeks. It’s difficult to see anything other than the NETHERLANDS TO WIN GROUP C, with Ukraine and Austria battling it out for second place. SCOTLAND TO QUALIFY looks a bet in Group D – they will have the backing of the Tartan Army against Czech Republic and Croatia. North Macedonia to qualify from Group C. There are some question marks surrounding their group rivals. The World Cup qualifying victory in Germany was an eye opener and they possess decent quality in attack spearheaded by veteran striker Goran Pandev. The NETHERLANDS-UKRAINE DUAL FORECAST should pay out in Group C at 11-10 and ENGLAND TO WIN ALL THEIR GROUP MATCHES at 9-4 is a nice play. And in Groups E&F? There will be no swansong for Marek Hamsik so I fancy Slovakia to finish bottom of Group E. France and Portugal may fight it out in Group F with Les Bleus my pick to come out on top. GERMANY TO WIN GROUP F. I think France are now the complete package with the addition of Benzema but, even so, Germany’s home advantage could swing things in their favour. A Spain-poland dual forecast .I wanted to take on Spain but Group E is poor and they could end up falling over the line. In Group F, Hungary are the likely whipping boys and, while two home games do help, the other teams should be up to beating them. Back Hungary to win zero points. SLOVAKIA TO QUALIFY from Group E. If Spain defeat Poland and Sweden in their opening two games they may opt to rotate for the final match, which gives the Slovaks a chance. PORTUGAL look the value in Group F. They are a strong side who should have a big tournament. Spain are not the force they once were and I can see them being pipped to the top two spots in Group E by Sweden and Poland .Reigning champions have made a bit of a habit of falling at the group stage in recent years and Portugal may follow suit in a stacked Group F. SWEDEN OR DRAW DOUBLE CHANCE makes plenty of appeal when they face Spain in the first round of Group E matches. In Group F, the FRANCE-PORTUGAL DUAL FORECAST can land with Germany weaker than their two main rivals. The Spain-sweden dual forecast looks a bet in Group E. Slovakia are arguably the worst team in the tournament and Poland look a limited side outside of Robert Lewandowski. It’s the obvious pick but a double on SLOVAKIA AND HUNGARY TO FINISH BOTTOM of their groups pays 6-5. Both teams are comfortably the worst teams in their sections. How far will the home nations go? England have a great chance of topping their group and the prospect of knockout games at Wembley is also a huge plus but they may run into an old foe in the semi-finals. I can see Wales and Scotland both making the last 16 but that may be the end of their adventures. Scotland have some huge talents but also some very mediocre players so I expect them to exit after the group stage. Wales are overreliant on Gareth Bale and may suffer the same fate but if England get past the round of 16 then I expect to see them in the final. England have got the players to go far, but don’t seem to have a style that gets the best out of their talent. They can reach the semi-finals. Scotland do not look good enough, home advantage helps but I can’t see them getting out the group. Wales have a better chance but may also fall early. England can reach the final. They have a great squad who aren’t too overhyped but are likely to find one team too good. Wales have had a disrupted preparation and may not escape the group while Scotland could also be heading for an early exit for reasons already mentioned. This has to be the best opportunity for England to win a big tournament in my lifetime but it may be semi-final shootout heartache again. Wales have a kind group on paper and should reach the knockouts and while I’d love to see Scotland join them, it looks a tough ask. Wembley will play a part. However, defensive frailties will see England exit at the semi-final stage. A lot of travelling could be Wales’ downfall and they may not get out the group. Scotland should progress from their group before heading home after a round-of-16 defeat. If Wales can finish second in Group A, the quarter-finals are possible while Scotland look the worst of the four teams in a strong Group D. This is England’s best squad in many a year and they have a huge chance of going all the way but a last-16 tie with Germany or Portugal could be tough. It would take a miracle for Wales to repeat their Euro 2016 heroics. A group-stage exit is likely. England should win their group with ease but another semi-final heartbreak looms. Home advantage should see Scotland reach the knockout stages, but anything else would be a bonus. What’s your best bet of the tournament? N’Golo Kante to be named Player of the Tournament. DENMARK TO WIN GROUP B. I backed this before Kevin De Bruyne’s injury and have since gone in again. My best bet is the Belgium-denmark straight forecast in Group B. They are the two best teams in the group and I’d take Belgium to edge out the Danes. RUBEN DIAS TO BE NAMED PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT. The Manchester City man is the standout player in a strong Portugal defence. If they get to the latter stages of the competition he will be high on the list of candidates. Czech Republic to reach the semifinals. They have fond memories of the last major tournament to be held in England and could surprise a few teams 25 years on. WALES TO BE THE LOWEST-SCORING TEAM. They will rely heavily on Gareth Bale but they are in a group with a number of well-organised teams and goals could prove few and far between. Ferran Torres to be named Young Player of the Tournament. It looks a relatively weak field and Torres will be in pole position should England be knocked out before the semi-finals. Torres should also be fresher than many of his rivals having featured sparingly for Man City this season. WALES TO BE ELIMINATED IN THE GROUP STAGE. It’s hard to see where a win could come in a tough group with three of the most underrated teams in the tournament.



Euro 2020

© PressReader. All rights reserved.