An Early Look Ahead To Euro 2021

ALMERE, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 8: Players of Norway gather during the UEFA Euro Under 21 Qualifing match between The Netherlands and Norway on September 8, 2020 in Almere, The Netherlands. (Photo by Marcel ter Bals/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Euro 2021 was delayed due to coronavirus but it promises to be as exciting as ever. The tournament is being staged across multiple European cities for the first time. This variety of venues and cities could make for a summer of unpredictable and enthralling soccer. Despite not kicking off until June I’m going to have a way too early look at which countries are in contention for the title.

Euro 2021 Favorites:

France:

I start by looking at the reigning World Cup winners, France. The French side is rightly one of the favorites to win Euro 2021. They have a squad of impressive depth and one of the most talented teams in soccer. Some of their star players include Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Antoine Griezmann, and Kylian Mbappe. If these players play at their best then France will be a tough match for anyone.

The one thing making it tough for France is their group draw. They have been handed a horrible draw, finding themselves in the same group as Germany and Portugal. This makes it an extremely tough start to their tournament. But, if they can get through the group then don’t be surprised to see them lifting the trophy which they last won in 2000.

England:

England is amongst the top contenders for the trophy. They have never won the Euro’s before, the closest they have come is semi-final defeats in 1968 and 1996. However, there is reason to believe that this year is their best chance yet. They are fresh off reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.

This was their best World Cup performance since 1990. This improvement in performance and the emergence of an exciting young team points towards a potential trophy this June. Their team is likely to include talented forwards Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, and Jadon Sancho. If these players can combine effectively then we can expect lots of goals from this England team and a deep run in the tournament.

Belgium:

Belgium has long been regarded as one of the best teams in world soccer with high tournament expectations. However, they have never lived up to these lofty expectations, often crashing out early in major competitions. Having said this, they did finish third in the 2018 World Cup which was a significant improvement.

As well as this, Belgium is currently ranked first in the world soccer rankings which suggests they are hitting form at the right time. They also have some of the best forwards in soccer in their ranks, including Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Kevin De Bruyne. This is a deadly trio that could carry the team past any team they face in the tournament.

Euro 2021 Contenders:

Spain:

Spain boasts an impressive record in the Euro’s having won three titles, the joint-most in history. They have also won two of the last three tournaments. However, they have since seen a drop-off and crashed out in the last 16 in Euro 2016, losing to Italy.

Their old guard of experienced players have moved on and they now have a younger less experienced side heading into the tournament. With youth comes energy and excitement and so a young Spanish side should not be overlooked this summer.

Portugal:

Portugal is the defending champions and appears to have a great chance of winning back-to-back titles. They are led by talisman and arguably the best player of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite his excellence, Portugal is far from a one-man team. Amongst their ranks are Bruno Fernandes, Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva, and exciting youngster Joao Felix.

The only thing which may stop this exciting squad is their tough draw. Facing France and Germany in their group means that if they don’t start well they could be heading home early. But if they can get through the group then watch out for the Portuguese.

Germany:

Germany is tied with Spain as the most successful team in European Championship history. The three-time winners seem likely to make a strong push for title number 4. As noted earlier, Germany shares a group with France and Portugal. This will make it an extremely tough start for the German’s.

Their team is built on experience with world-class players Manuel Neuer, Antonio Rudiger, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, and Ilkay Gundogan providing the squad’s spine. Between them, they have represented Germany an incredible 326 times. Add to this the youth of Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane, Timo Werner, and Serge Gnabry and it appears that Germany has a perfect blend in their side. You can expect the Germans to put together another solid tournament performance this summer.

Euro 2021 Dark Horse:

Croatia:

Croatia will come into the tournament as one of the less fancied teams. However, they are a team that can definitely upset some of the bigger nations. This was highlighted in their run to the final at the 2018 World Cup. On their way to the final, they beat hosts Russia and England. These wins show their appetite for the big occasion.

If they perform like this again then they definitely could be the surprise package. The thing which may count against them is the age of their most important players. Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, and Dejan Lovren are now all aged over 30 and this could prove one tournament too far for them. But, you would be a fool to count them out completely.

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