Fresh off an exhilarating season of club football in a cramped and compressed fashion, football returns back with its International ventures. Europe’s most coveted prize is up for grabs after 5 long years and it is filled with possibilities spawned across 24 participating nations and 11 host countries.
The concept of the European Championship was introduced over 60 years ago and the maiden edition culminated with the Soviet Union being crowned as winners. Since then, it has emerged to be one of the most competitive events in the footballing world due to the immense talent pool and neck-to-neck action present in the continent.
After decades, the sixteenth edition, which will go down in history books as one of the most widely-anticipated tournaments, will kick off with the match-up between Italy and Turkey at the Stadio Olympico in Rome.
Initially slated to take place in 2020, the event was postponed due to the coronavirus that had taken over the continent during the middle of the year.
With the situation currently under control with the emergence of vaccines to combat the virus, the tournament was given the green light to be conducted following the end of the current footballing season calender.
24 teams that have made it through after the strenuous qualifying rounds are divided into six groups, out of which 16 are slated to qualify. Naturally, the top 2 members from each group will qualify into the knockout stages. Out of the six third-placed teams, the four teams with the most points and a higher goal difference will also qualify into the next round.
With some of the best footballers on the planet taking the center stage for their national teams, the tournament is expected to be a closely contested one. Let’s have a look at the top five teams that have a chance of getting their hands on the coveted prize.
The world champions are the favourites to win the Euro 2020 as well and will attempt to complete the rare double much like their counterparts Spain did, at the start of the decade.
The Les Bleus have more or less the same pool of players that won them the World Cup three years ago. Karim Benzema’s addition certainly makes the attack more potent which already constitutes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Oliver Giroud. While the attack is more than enough to make any defence fret, the team also comes with a well-oiled midfield.
Having played an instrumental role for Chelsea in their recent Champions League glory, N’Golo Kante will look to add the Euros to his trophy cabinet alongside Paul Pogba as his partner in the middle of the park. France have never lost a game when Kante and Pogba have started together and that is a comforting statistic for the team.
The Frenchmen are currently placed at 5.50, meaning if you bet ₹100 on them and if they win the tournament, you’ll be making ₹550.
The defending champions head into the tournament with a solid squad, and arguably much improved from their last outing in the Euros.
Portugal will be led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who would want to mark his final Euros appearance with an encore. While the team were massive underdogs in the previous edition, they head into this one as one of the stronger teams.
The reason behind their supremacy is due to the emergence of players like Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, and Ruben Dias. These players add massive quality to the side which is rich in experience in the form of Joao Moutinho, Pepe, Rui Patricio and Ronaldo himself.
Another chip that the Eastern European nation have on their shoulder is their triumph in the Nations League.
Portugal are currently placed at 9.50, meaning if you bet ₹100 on them and if they win the tournament, you’ll be making ₹950.
With the scars of their World Cup still unhealed, England are desperate for an International trophy with their only triumph being the 1966 World Cup.
England have finished the competition as the third-placed twice and as a result, are yet to make it to the finals.
The team are heading into the tournament with a scintillating squad which is illuminated by young stars who have starred for their respective clubs. The immesne talented pool has resulted in some controversial selection calls, but the final cut of players are more than enough to inflict serious damage.
Despite being relatively strong on paper, the Three Lions will have a tricky time deciding their best playing eleven and the chemistry on the pitch. Moreover, with rivals Scotland, WC runner-ups Croatia, and the Czech Republic in the group, it could be a tricky one to handle. The prospect of qualifying won’t be much of a relief for them as they could be up against a major side from the group of death in the Round Of 16 itself.
The absence of Harry Maguire in the group stages could also potentially play a factor in England’s fate in the competition.
England are currently placed at 6.50, meaning if you bet ₹100 on them and if they win the tournament, you’ll be making ₹650.
Belgium’s golden generation had a splendid outing three years ago in the World Cup with a third placed finish. The nation is expected to make a deep run yet again with their group being a relatively easy one.
Winning the individual accolades in the Premier League and Serie A, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku will spearhead the attack which will be supported by the misfiring Eden Hazard and the experienced Dries Mertens.
Coming off a stellar campaign for Leicester City, 24-year-old Youri Tielemans will have a major responsibility while controlling the midfield.
The ageing defence is a minor area of concern for the Red Devils, while the goalposts will be guarded by Thibaut Courtois.
Belgium are currently placed at 8.00, meaning if you bet ₹100 on them and if they win the tournament, you’ll be making ₹800.
Emerging as the dark horses, the Italian side have emerged as a solid unit under Roberto Mancini.
The 2012 Euro finalists have endured a rough time in International competitions as of late. However, with a solid blend of experience and youth combined with depth across each department, Italy could surprise many with their exploits in this event.
Much as tradition goes, Italy’s biggest strength lies in their defence due to the presence of the long lasting formidable unit of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. The backline will protect the sticks, which in turn will be guarded by one of the top goalkeepers in the world, Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The team also boasts a much better midfield than the last edition comprising Jorginho, Marco Verratti and young starlets such as Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Pellegrini. Led by Ciro Immobile, the attack is also a touch improved from the last edition.
Italy are currently placed at 9.00, meaning if you bet ₹100 on them and if they win the tournament, you’ll be making ₹900.