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Euro 2020 : France, Belgium, England… where do the favourites stand?

 

 

Before the Euro (11 June – 11 July), the favourites are in various states of form, both in terms of results and physical condition. A look at the state of play one month before the start of the tournament:

Portugal: slow but promising

The European champions have not lost in March and have made a good start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, but they have often appeared sluggish and lacking in ideas, and even worrying at times against nations that are well within their reach.

It was a great opportunity for the team to showcase their talent and to show that they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of football,” he said. The team is still too uncertain to have a clear organisation and a typical eleven, especially in midfield and when it comes to choosing Ronaldo’s partners in attack.

The only satisfactions during the March training camp were the affirmation of Ruben Dias in defence and the emergence of Diogo Jota as Portugal’s alternative striker behind ‘CR7’.

France: Almost empty infirmary, high morale

The 2018 World Cup champions will go into the Euro as favourites after three years of unchanged line-ups. The backbone of the Russian World Cup is still in place, as is the “winning” sauce Didier Deschamps.

France have only had three clean sheets since their coronation, in the Netherlands (November 2018, Nations League), in Turkey (June 2019, Euro qualification) and against Finland (November 2020, friendly), three days before a landmark victory at Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal (1-0).

Against “CR7” in the first round of the Euro, it is a complete tricolore group that should appear, from Hugo Lloris to Antoine Griezmann through Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé. The spring injury victims, Corentin Tolisso and Anthony Martial, will be hoping to recover in time for the list to be announced on 18 May.

The ‘Parisians’ in the squad will need to turn the knob quickly after a season ending that failed to meet expectations. The return to the Blues could sweep away PSG’s spleen.

Belgium: Green signals and questions for the Red Devils

The Belgian team led by Roberto Martinez has lost only twice (5-2 to Switzerland and 2-1 to England) in the almost thirty matches played since the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup lost to the French, a fine series that masks the feverishness of a defence often caught out.

It’s a great way to get to the top of the table,” he said, “but it’s not the only way to get there. The Hazard brothers should also be in the game: Thorgan (Borussia Dortmund) and his elder brother Eden, who returned to the competition at the end of April with Real Madrid after a long series of injuries. Edinho has yet to regain the form that made him one of the world’s leading players.

Benteke in 2014, Kompany in 2016 (injured), Nainggolan in 2018 (coach’s choice, a big name has been left out of every last major tournament. That role could be filled by Axel Witsel (hamstring injury) this year. The Dortmund metronome is doing everything to be ready. The expansion of the list could be beneficial to him.

It is a good thing that the team has been able to get back to full fitness,” he said, adding that the team’s new coach has been “very supportive” of the team’s efforts.

England: Dilemmas and injuries

With the possibility of taking 26 players with him, coach Gareth Southgate will have some tricky choices to make in attack, where there is a plethora of options. The concerns are more in the creative midfield with Jack Grealish injured since mid-February and James Maddison struggling to find his form with Leicester.

Jordan Henderson is also a doubt, while his Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold has a few games to make up for the Reds’ lacklustre season.

With a condensed, match-heavy season for Chelsea, Manchester City and United, and marked by a number of physical ailments, Southgate may be tempted to prioritise fresher, more versatile players.

Spain: La Roja in reconstruction mode

After their early elimination from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, La Roja have begun their rebuilding project under the leadership of Luis Enrique. It was a great opportunity for the team to showcase their talent and to showcase the best of what they have to offer,” he said, adding that the team’s new coach, Luis Enrique, was “very pleased” with the results. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it back in time, but I’m sure I will.

Since his return at the end of 2019, Enrique has launched several promising young players, such as Bryan Gil (Eibar), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pedri (Barcelona) and Ansu Fati. The 18-year-old Barça prodigy could miss the Euro because of a serious knee injury.

In the meantime, it is important to note that this is a very important tournament for the Spanish team, which has only been beaten once in two and a half years (1-0 in Ukraine in October 2020) and is expecting to get through the group stage despite the opposition of Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (whose injury at the weekend is causing concern throughout the kingdom) and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski. However, it is not necessarily a feat: this Euro will serve above all to lay the foundations for a new generation of youngsters with a view to the World Cup in Qatar in 2002.

Germany: A shaky defence, Löw on his way out

The German fans and pundits are no longer convinced that the German team is a favourite at this year’s UEFA EURO in light of the team’s inability to find its defensive footing.

I’m not sure if Joachim Low is still the right coach after 15 years in the job. Will he recall his old 2014 world champion grunts Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels for the Euros, who were ruthlessly ejected in 2019 after the humiliating first round elimination at the 2018 World Cup?

The first question was answered “no” by a majority of fans, according to polls. It is a good thing that we have a lot of people who want to see the team resign,” he said, “but we don’t want to see the team resign. It was a good thing the team was so good,” he said, “but it’s not like it was a good thing.

It was a good thing that the team had been able to win the World Cup in the first half of the year. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it without the likes of Müller. It was a very good match,” he said, “but I think it’s a good thing that we’re going to have a very good match and we’re going to have a very good match.