In less than 24-hours from now, Europe’s best players will ditch their club’s colours to represent their countries at the rescheduled Euro 2020.
The 16th edition of the quadrennial competition takes place finally this year after it was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Euro 2020 will also feature 24 teams after UEFA decided to expand the competition in 2016, which France hosted. However, unlike the 2016 edition, there’s no designated host this time, with games taking place across different stadiums in Europe.
The 24-teams have been divided into six groups of four teams each, with the top two and the four best third-placed teams qualifying for the next round.
With the competition starting tomorrow, these are some of our picks from the opening group games.
Italy vs Turkey (Italy win): Italy missed out on the 2018 World Cup, but they’ve been able to regroup under Roberto Mancini. The Azzurris, along with Belgium, are the two teams to qualify with a 100% record.
Italy are unbeaten under Mancini and are favourites against Turkey. The four-time World Champions take on the Turks in the opening match of the competition at the Stadio Olimpico.
While Italy may not have superstars like France or Belgium, their squad is a perfect mix of youth and experience. Meanwhile, the Turks edged out Iceland to qualify for the tournament and have already beaten the Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers.
However, with a home crowd backing them- although not full capacity, the Italians should get the maximum points in their opening group game.
Denmark vs Finland (Denmark win): Denmark are seen as one of the dark horses and should have no problem seeing off a Finland side that finished second behind Italy in the qualifiers.
Finland will rely on the striking qualities of Teemu Pukki, but the Danes have players like Christian Eriksen, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Kasper Schmeichel and Yussuf Poulsen in their ranks.
The Danes have already shown they can also compete against the big boys, having beaten England in the Nations League. Finland are their Scandinavian rivals, but the Danes’ quality should see them edge this one.
Belgium vs Russia (Belgium win): Belgium are the third favourites for the trophy after England and France, so it would be a surprise if they fail to pick the three points in their opening group game against Russia.
Roberto Martinez has a star-studded team led by Eden Hazard, who is also supported by the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.
Belgium finished third at the 2018 World Cup, but they will be eager to go all the way this time. Surprisingly, Russia were also in Belgium’s group during qualifiers, and it was the Red Devils that triumphed on the two occasions they met.
A similar outcome is likely to happen when the two sides clash once again on June 12 in St. Petersburg.