The UEFA European Championships begin this coming weekend! This tournament is draped in history and this edition will be no different! Usually, there are one or two host cities/nations; this edition has 11! After a year of postponements, the 24 teams that qualified for Euro 2020 are ready to kick off! We at Philly Sports Network have you covered with a two-part preview! Here is all you need to know about the 2021 Euros part 1.
2021 Euros Part 1: Groups A, B, and C
Before we jump right into the teams competing. Here’s a quick breakdown of how this works. There are six groups with four teams. Each team plays the other once. The top two teams from each group after those matches advance to the knockout rounds; also, the top four third-place teams also make the knockout rounds. Since there are so many places hosting games, here’s a breakdown of what that looks like:
- Group stage, round of 16, semi-finals and final: London (England)
- Group stage and quarter-finals: Baku (Azerbaijan), Munich (Germany), Rome (Italy), Saint Petersburg (Russia)
- Group stage and round of 16: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Bucharest (Romania), Budapest (Hungary), Copenhagen (Denmark), Glasgow (Scotland), Seville (Spain)
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, we need to get on with the preview! In part one we’ll take a look at the 12 teams in Groups A, B, and C!
Group A has Turkey, Italy, Wales, and Switzerland. All four of these teams are inside the Fifa top 30 rankings. Will the teams with the better rankings make it out of the group or could a lower-ranked team pull a shocker?
Of all the teams in Group A, Turkey may seem like the least threatening team in Group A. But don’t judge this team by its ranking. Turkey beat and drew France in qualifying. They could have been ahead of France in their qualifying standings if not for poor results in other matches.
Turkey has a stout defense. They only conceded three goals all qualifying and kept eight clean sheets. Could this team that is organized defensively take points from other teams in a strong group? They play the opening match against Italy, so we’ll have to wait until then to see.
Goalkeepers: Altay Bayindir, Mert Gunok, Ugurcan Cakır
Defenders: Zeki Celik, Caglar Soyuncu, Kaan Ayhan, Merih Demiral, Mert Muldur, Ozan Kabak, Ridvan Yilmaz, Umut Meras
Midfielders: Yusuf Yazici, Dorukhan Tokoz, Irfan Can Kahveci, Okay Yokuslu, Orkun Kokcu, Ozan Tufan, Taylan Antalyali, Hakan Calhanoglu
Attackers: Burak Yilmaz, Cengiz Under, Enes Unal, Abdulkadir Omur, Kerem Akturkoglu, Halil Dervisoglu, Kenan Karaman
Italy could be seen as the front runners in Group A. They were a disgrace a few years ago as they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Since then, they changed coaches to Roberto Mancini. Since he’s come in he has won 70 percent of Italy’s matches. They won all 10 qualifying matches to get here.
This new management and organization are getting the most out of their youth and veterans. The mix of two makes Italy a strong competitor. We’ll see them in action in the first match of Euro 2020, Friday, June 11 at 3:00 pm ET.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alex Meret, Salvatore Sirigu
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Emerson Palmieri, Alessandro Florenzi, Leonardo Spinazzola, Rafael Toloi
Midfielders: Nicolo Barella, Bryan Cristante, Jorginho, Manuel Locatelli, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stefano Sensi, Marco Verratti
Forwards: Andrea Belotti, Domenico Berardi, Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Giacomo Raspadori
Wales made it to the semifinals of the 2016 Euros. A miraculous run like that might be hard to duplicate for the 2021 version of this Wales team. Gareth Bale is still the team’s leader on the field, and a youthful squad around him could make this team one hungry for more success.
They were the runners-up in their qualifying group and would love to say that they were runners-up in this Group A as well. Will they be there after their three group stage matches? They begin their quest this coming Saturday against Switzerland.
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Adam Davies
Defenders: Chris Gunter, Ben Davies, Connor Roberts, Ethan Ampadu, Chris Mepham, Joe Rodon, James Lawrence, Neco Williams, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Ben Cabango
Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Jonny Williams, Harry Wilson, Daniel James, David Brooks, Joe Morrell, Matt Smith, Dylan Levitt, Rubin Colwill
Forwards: Gareth Bale, Kieffer Moore, Tyler Roberts
The Switzerland national team always seem to be highly ranked in Fifa’s world rankings. However, they don’t always back up that ranking with big wins. Ahead of their Euro 2020 campaign they have had spans of losing seven straight and winning six straight. Who will this team show themselves to be in this tournament?
The recent wins have been against teams that are ranked lower than Italy and Wales, so it could be a hard time for the Swiss. They get to show if they can continue their current win streak or falter in their first group game against Wales this Saturday, June 12th at 9:00 am ET.
Goalkeepers: Yann Sommer, Jonas Omlin, Yvon Mvogo, Gregor Kobel
Defenders: Fabian Schar, Ricardo Rodriguez, Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, Jordan Lotomba, Becir Omeragic, Silvan Widmer, Loris Benito, Kevin Mbabu, Eray Comert
Midfielders: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Steven Zuber, Denis Zakaria, Remo Freuler, Edimilson Fernandes, Djibril Sow
Forwards: Haris Seferovic, Admir Mehmedi, Breel Embolo, Mario Gavranovic, Ruben Vargas, Christian Fassnacht, Dan Ndoye, Andy Zeqiri.
Denmark, Finland, Belgium, and Russia make up the teams in group B. Of all four of those teams there are two that stick out, while the rest will be looking to fight for a chance to make it out of the group.
While some may think Denmark is not a threatening team, they will need to think again. Denmark is ranked 10th in the world and is a hot team entering Group B play at Euro 2020. They have won their last three games of consequence, World Cup Qualifying matches; scoring 14 and letting none in.
Denmark’s strength is its defense. It keeps them in games, and their squad is good enough to find a goal to give them a win rather than a draw. They start their Euro 2020 against Finland on Saturday, June 12th.
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Frederik Ronnow, Jonas Lossl
Defenders: Daniel Wass, Joakim Maehle, Jens Stryger, Nicolai Boilesen, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Joachim Andersen, Mathias Zanka
Midfielders: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Thomas Delaney, Mathias Jensen, Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard, Anders Christiansen
Forwards: Youssef Poulsen, Martin Braithwaite, Jonas Wind, Kasper Dolberg, Andreas Skov Olsen, Mikkel Damsgaard, Robert Skov, Andreas Cornelius
Finland is preparing for its first international tournament in some time. They went from a team that barely won any Euro qualifiers to finishing second in their qualification group for Euro 2020. 18 points from their 10 qualification matches were enough to ensure their involvement in this tournament.
Of all the teams in Group B, Finland will definitely be seen as the weakest. However they made it into the tournament, so they have a chance to pull a shocking run as Iceland did in Euro 2016. They will try to do so in their first match on Saturday, June 12th vs Denmark.
Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky, Jesse Joronen, Anssi Jaakkola
Defenders: Thomas Lam, Paulus Arajuuri, Jere Uronen, Juhani Ojala, Sauli Vaisanen, Nikolai Alho, Daniel O’Shaughnessy, Niko Hamalainen, Leo Vaisanen, Robert Ivanov
Midfielders: Jasin Assehnoun, Onni Valakari, Pyry Soiri, Fredrik Jensen, Joni Kauko, Glen Kamara, Rasmus Schuller, Tim Sparv
Forwards: Teemu Pukki, Lassi Lappalainen, Marcus Forss, Joel Pohjanpalo
Belgium is the number one ranked team in the world according to Fifa. They have been a strong side that has continually moved up amongst Europe’s elite teams. In qualification for Euro 2020, they won all 10 games; scoring 40 goals and letting only three go in against them. This team is legit and should pose a threat for a deep tournament run.
This team could be without world star Kevin De Bruyne who fractured his eye socket while playing for Manchester City in the Champions League final. Will they be able to tick with him off the field? We’ll have to wait and see what they look like in their first match this Saturday vs Russia!
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Thomas Meunier, Jason Denayer, Dedryck Boyata, Leander Dendoncker, Timothy Castagne
Midfielders: Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli, Yannick Carrasco, Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard, Dennis Praet, Hans Vanaken
Forwards: Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Leandro Trossard
Russia over preformed in the 2018 World Cup. The hosts of that tournament made it to the quarter-finals and looked like a good underdog team. In this summer’s Euros, they may not look as good of an underdog. They were able to be the runners-up of their qualifying group. But key players retiring leaves holes to be filled on one of the biggest stages.
It will be a learning experience for many of the players in this strong group. They have their work cut out for them starting the tournament off against Belgium!
Goalkeepers: Anton Shunin, Andrey Lunyov, Yury Dyupin, Matvei Safonov
Defenders: Yuri Zhirkov, Fyodor Kudryashov, Georgi Dzhikiya, Mario Fernandes, Andrei Semyonov, Vyacheslav Karavayev, Igor Diveyev, Roman Yevgenyev, Ilya Samoshnikov
Midfielders: Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksei Ionov, Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyayev, Aleksei Miranchuk, Denis Cheryshev, Magomed Ozdoyev, Andrei Mostovoy, Dmitri Barinov, Daniil Fomin, Rifat Zhemaletdinov, Maksim Mukhin, Denis Makarov, Arsen Zakharyan
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba, Anton Zabolotny, Aleksandr Sobolev
Group C is composed of Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia. This group has three teams who are right around each other in the Fifa rankings and one who shocked many to make the field of 24. Who will make it out of this interesting group?
The Netherlands is the big team in this Group C. While they have had a very rough go over the last five years, they have returned to a major competition looking to show that they are one of the best teams in Europe. They will be without star defender Virgil Van Dijk as he still recovers from injury, but this team should be able to manage good results against the opposition in this group.
The Netherlands open play in their Euro 2020 campaign on Sunday, June 13th against a surprising dangerous Ukraine side.
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen, Maarten Stekelenburg, Tim Krul
Defenders: Daley Blind, Stefan de Vrij, Joel Veltman, Matthijs de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Denzel Dumfries, Patrick van Aanholt, Owen Wijndal, Jurrien Timber
Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, Frenkie de Jong, Davy Klaassen, Marten de Roon, Donny van de Beek, Ryan Gravenberch, Teun Koopmeiners
Forwards: Memphis Depay, Quincy Promes, Luuk de Jong, Steven Berghuis, Donyell Malen, Wout Weghorst, Cody Gakpo
After winning their qualification group, Ukraine set its sights to state their case as the team to be at in Group C. They have a plethora of technically gifted and talented younger players coming up the ranks meshing with their wily veterans.
Ukraine could just be a surprise group winner. An opening game win against the Netherlands would go a long way to that becoming a reality. That match takes place at 3:00 pm ET on Sunday, June 13th
Goalkeepers: Andriy Pyatov, Andriy Lunin, Heorhiy Bushchan, Anatoliy Trubin
Defenders: Mykola Matviyenko, Oleksandr Karavayev, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Eduard Sobol, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Bohdan Mykhaylichenko, Illya Zabarnyi, Oleksandr Tymchyk, Viktor Korniyenko, Denys Popov, Oleksandr Syrota
Midfielders: Andriy Yarmolenko, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Taras Stepanenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Viktor Kovalenko, Viktor Tsyhankov, Marlos, Yevhenii Makarenko, Mykola Shaparenko, Vitaliy Buyalskyi, Oleksandr Zubkov, Volodymyr Shepelyev, Oleksandr Andriyevskyi, Artem Bondarenko, Bohdan Lyednyev, Heorhiy Sudakov
Forwards: Roman Yaremchuk, Artem Besyedin, Artem Dovbyk
Austria is a defense-first team that rode that mentality to the runners-up spot in Euro 2020 qualification. They will look to stifle their opposition and then get a goal to take all the points. This approach doesn’t always work, but this Group C where every team has a legitimate shot to win that top spot could prove to be very useful.
Austria finished qualification in the spot just above the team they are going to face in their opener North Macedonia. They won both matches against this newer nation, can they do it again on Sunday?
Goalkeepers: Daniel Bachmann, Pavao Pervan, Alexander Schlager
Defenders: David Alaba, Aleksandar Dragovic, Marco Friedl, Martin Hinteregger, Stefan Lainer, Philipp Lienhart, Stefan Posch, Christopher Trimmel, Andreas Ulmer
Midfielders: Julian Baumgartlinger, Christoph Baumgartner, Florian Grillitsch, Stefan Ilsanker, Konrad Laimer, Valentino Lazaro, Marcel Sabitzer, Louis Schaub, Xaver Schlager, Alessandro Schopf
Forwards: Marko Arnautovic, Michael Gregoritsch, Sasa Kalajdzic, Karim Onisiwo
After taking 14 points from the 10 Euro 2020 qualifying matches, North Macedonia needed to win a playoff to make it to this point. They took on Georgia and won to make it here. This side is not to be looked down on. They are unbeaten in their last four matches, one of which was a victory over Germany in 2022 World Cup Qualifying.
This is an opportunity to put this new nation on the map. If they can make it out of Group C it will be a miraculous achievement that shows this team is for real. They take on Austria on Sunday to kick-off their first-ever Euros match!
Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski, Damjan Siskovski, Riste Jankov
Defenders: Stefan Ristovski, Visar Musliu, Egzon Bejtulai, Kire Ristevski, Gjoko Zajkov, Darko Velkovski, Ezdzan Alioski
Midfielders: Arijan Ademi, Enis Bardhi, Stefan Spirovski, Boban Nikolov, Tihomir Kostadinov, Ferhan Hasani, Eljif Elmas, Daniel Avramovski, Darko Curlinov, Marjan Radeski
Forwards: Goran Pandev, Aleksandar Trajkovski, Ivan Trickovski, Vlatko Stojanovski, Krste Velkovski, Milan Ristovski
Who advances to the Knockout Rounds?
It’s prediction time! Who do I think will make the jump from these groups to the knockout rounds? Here’s the answer to that question!
I think Italy is the front runner from the group and they will want to show that to the world. Italy win the group!
Wales and Turkey will be fighting for that coveted runners-up place in the group. It will likely come down to who gets the better of who when those two square off. I see this as being a bit of a shock, but Turkey will take second place.
Wales finishes third and has to hope that they can be in the top half of the third-place finishers to move on to the knockouts.
Out of the four teams from this group, I really only see one team that won’t live up to the hype and that is Switzerland. They finish last.
Belgium is the class of Group B. They should have no problem beating Finland and Russia. Denmark may give them a few problems, but it’s nothing they shouldn’t be able to handle and get three points from. Belgium win Group B.
Denmark and its strong defense are a true dark-horse in this tournament. While they may struggle to keep the ball out of their net against Belgium, they’ll be able to best Russia and Finland. Denmark takes the runners-up spot.
Russia will finish in third place. They will have to hope for a good result against Denmark, and a lot of goals scored against Finland. This could propel them to be one of the four third-placed teams to make it to the knockouts.
Finland will finish last in the group. It will be a true learning experience for a side that is not used to being in these types of competitions. Finishing last won’t stop this experience from being a building block for them for the future.
All of the teams in this group could win it, however, it’s Ukraine’s turn to show they are trending up amongst Europe’s nations. They win Group C.
The Netherlands make it back to the knockout rounds by finishing second in this group. They are just too talented to fall short of the runners-up spot.
Austria finishes third in this group, a lone win over North Macedonia seals that spot for them.
North Macedonia comes in last. They will be in the majority of their matches but will fall short when it matters most in their first-ever Euros.
Part 2 Coming Tomorrow!
Well, there you have it the first look at half of the teams of Euro 2020. While our 2021 Euros Part 1 showcases some great teams, matches, and who we think will advance from groups A, B, and C, just wait until you see Part 2 tomorrow!
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Mandatory Credit: SportsLogos.net via UEFA.com