The upcoming Euro 2020 tournament will not be short of contenders capable of winning it all. At least eight teams have a very realistic shot at lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup at Wembley.
However, five sides stand apart as the most likely European Championship winners. They possess some of the best players and managers in the entire tournament, which should help them reach the latter stages.
Let’s break down these five teams’ championship credentials and find out exactly why they are the very top contenders to win Euro 2020.
The Three Lions possess some of the most promising young attacking talents in all of Europe in their squad.
Manager Gareth Southgate has a host of attacking options to choose from, with Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford, as well as right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has emerged as the main creative force for Liverpool this season.
Captain and top scorer Harry Kane might not be 100 per cent for the tournament after undergoing hamstring surgery, but the emergence of Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham will provide a much-needed alternative for that lead striker role.
Admittedly, there are some rather significant question marks. There’s a particularly big one at starting centre-back now that John Stones has fallen out of favour at Manchester City. It also remains to be seen how Southgate will deploy his midfield, especially against top opposition.
But still, the tools are there for Southgate to bring the Euros home for the very first time. And if they can make it to the semi-finals and final, they will possess home advantage, which could prove crucial.
Belgium may have beaten England in the third-place game in the 2018 World Cup, but they are only second-favourites to them in the Euros.
Roberto Martinez remains at the helm, and he led the Red Devils to one of the most dominant qualification campaigns in recent memory. They won all 10 matches, scoring a whopping 40 goals with just three conceded.
Belgium’s squad remains as good as ever, with most of its golden generation in the prime of their careers. Kevin De Bruyne remains one of the best midfielders in the world. Romelu Lukaku keeps banging in the goals in Inter. And Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen form arguably the best centre-back partnership in all of Europe.
Captain Eden Hazard hasn’t had the best season for Real Madrid, but with brother Thorgan and Dries Mertens in reserve, the Belgians are clearly not short of attacking weapons.
The Belgians have fallen short in each of the last three major tournaments, but they have as good a chance as any to make it all the way this year.
But not if France have anything to say about it. The reigning world champions knocked Belgium out in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and have made the final in each of the last two major tournaments.
Their squad also remains as talented as ever, with world-class quality at just about every position.
Of course, the fact that they were drawn in the Group of Death along with Portugal and Germany played a significant part. Qualification to the knockout round is far from automatic.
Paul Pogba has also missed most of the season with Manchester United, while Antoine Griezmann has not been at his best with Barcelona.
But there are also a number of positives. Kylian Mbappe remains among the best players in all of Europe, and Didier Deschamps is a proven top-quality manager. And their squad is as deep as any in the tournament.
Deschamps’ cautious playing style during the World Cup was annoying to some, especially given all of France’s remarkable attacking talents, but it got the job done.
With a defence that is as good as any in Europe — Raphael Varane and N’Golo Kante are absolute rocks up the middle — and Mbappe always a threat to spring a lightning-quick counterattack, France have the perfect formula for winning tournament football.
Germany were finally knocked off their perch as one of the top sides in the world after their disastrous group-stage exit in the 2018 World Cup. And after a fine Euro 2020 qualification campaign where they edged out a resurgent Netherlands side to finish top of their group, they still haven’t looked like true world-beaters.
Manager Jogi Low has brought in a new generation to replace the heroes of their 2014 World Cup triumph. The likes of Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich are now the side’s stalwarts, with Manuel Neuer, Marco Reus and Toni Kroos offering veteran support.
Their current odds to win the Euros are telling of the fact that the Germans aren’t quite as great as they once were. But it’s never a good idea to underestimate the Germans, and they could yet prove everyone wrong and perform well as they often do in tournaments.
This final spot in the top five was down to Spain and the Netherlands. But despite the Dutch having better Euro 2020 odds than Spain, the major Euro 2020 news that top striker Memphis Depay will miss the tournament due to a knee injury knocks them out as truly top contenders.
Granted, Spain have a major question mark up front as well. The likes of Rodrigo, Alvaro Morata, and Iago Aspas will be tasked to the line, and none of them has proven to be particularly reliable at the top level.
But still, there’s a great deal of quality within the squad, especially in midfield. And with the return of Luis Enrique to manage the side, there’s a decent chance he can maximise all that talent at his disposal.
The days of Spain dominating international football appear to be long gone. But they are more than capable of making some noise in Euro 2020 and with a few breaks, they might end up lifting the cup once again.
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