Ever the eternal optimists and tapping into patriotic punting, bookmakers have England as second favorites to win Euro 2020. The Three Lions finished fourth at the last World Cup and then third in the inaugural UEFA Nations League under Gareth Southgate. His policy of giving youth a chance has worked well so far, but plaudits aren’t as tangible in success terms as a trophy.
England cannot expect to have it all their own way at the Euros either, despite both the semis and final taking place on the hallowed turf of Wembley – football’s spiritual home. This isn’t a home tournament with 11 other host venues across the continent.
Who else is expected to challenge for the European Championship? Let’s take a look…
As holders of the FIFA World Cup, Les Bleus are already kings of the global game. When France were last crowned world champions, they went on to land Euro 2000 thanks to David Trezeguet and that famous Golden Goal. National coach Didier Deschamps has gone from successful captain to repeating such triumphs as a manager. Like Southgate, he has put his faith in youth to a great extent, especially in defense where his options are in their early-to-mid-twenties.
Midfield is built around Paul Pogba, a somewhat divisive figure. France do have senior players in goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, engine room operators N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi, and forwards Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann to keep their talented youngsters grounded.
It’s how Deschamps blends youth and experience together in the squad that will again be key to any potential success. Les Bleus are ahead of England in the Euro 2020 outright betting with Betway as 7/2 tournament favorites as of 9 October.
Every England fan knows about their own Golden Generation but, as with the Three Lions side of the early 2000s, time is running out for arguably the best group of Belgian players ever assembled. Some of their big hitters have made club career moves a year out from Euro 2020. Eden Hazard’s belated switch to Real Madrid hasn’t really caught fire yet.
Belgium’s record goalscorer Romelu Lukaku, meanwhile, left the Premier League for Inter Milan as reported by Sky Sports and is doing just fine under Antonio Conte. Many of the country’s established stars play or have played in English football, so they are familiar foes.
Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne can go under the radar when playing for Belgium but is every bit as classy as when he pulls on a Manchester City jersey. It is put up or shut up time for this particular Golden Generation, though, and the Belgians are 7/1 shots for the Euros.
Two of the last three European Championships were won by Spain, but La Roja continue to rebuild after a period of dominance. Things haven’t gone well on the stability front since long-serving coach Vicente del Bosque retired, but possession is nine-tenths of the law and opposition teams still find it difficult to have control over games.
They continue to produce midfield talent who are technically proficient in the well-cast mould of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso. La Roja still have one or two relics of their golden era too in skipper Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets. What Spain need to do is back a central striker or forward and regularly select him. Paco Alcacer is a diminutive but prolific talent, while the rangy Alvaro Morata offers something different.
Sometimes neither of the pair are on La Roja’s roster for games when the alternatives are far less credible. Whatever your take on tiki-taka, it has been hugely effective for Spain who are also 7/1 chances for a third European Championship crown in a dozen years.
Joachim Low has been allowed to rebuild Die Mannschaft after their defence of the World Cup ended in the group stage. He had to be ruthless with a crop of German players who ruled the globe in 2014. The Bundesliga is a hotbed for young talent at the moment, however, and that makes a revival possible. Low has dispensed with over the hill defenders, but can still call on the likes of goalie Manuel Neuer and deep-lying playmaker Toni Kroos.
International football is seemingly a young man’s game these days and Germany have Timo Werner in attack, supported by the likes of Leroy Sane – if he can win his fitness race for the Euros – and Kai Havertz among others.
Euro 2020 is one of those rare tournaments where England are more fancied than their great football rivals. Germany are almost twice the Three Lions’ price to win the tournament at 8/1. However, having the second favorites tag if England aren’t able to back this up with their performances at the tournament.