With less than a week left until the start of the much-awaited Euro 2020 Championships, there is palpable excitement across the world to watch some of the best teams in the world in action. As fans across Europe wait eagerly for the postponed tournament to start, we have made multiple features focussing on groups, teams and individual players, showcasing the best talent that will be featuring in the tournament.
We now make ten bold predictions that are likely to dominate the headlines of the 2020 European Championships over the next few months:
#10: THIBAUT COURTOIS TO BE GOALKEEPER OF THE TOURNAMENT
There is no doubt that Thibaut Courtois is the best goalkeeper in Europe right now and is one of the few who can manage to keep clean sheets against top-ranked sides. Belgium’s impeccable record in the European qualifiers was partly due to Courtois’ efforts – the Real Madrid stopper conceded just two goals in ten fixtures. With Belgium being one of the favourites to win the tournament, Courtois will be crucial to their chances, especially against attacking sides.
#9: BELGIUM’S GOLDEN DAYS TO REACH A CRESCENDO
Belgium have dominated the world of football for close to a decade now, with a plethora of talent to be found deep into the squad. But their Golden Generation might be reaching its highest point, with many players moving past their prime years. Injuries come along with old age, and Belgium will already miss Kevin De Bruyne for their opening fixture. With no trophies in their cabinet to back their dominance of the game over a decade, Roberto Martinez’s men will put on the show of their lives one last time in a major tournament.
#8: KARIM BENZEMA WILL BE THE WILD CARD FOR THE BLUES
Karim Benzema was recalled to the French squad after an absence of six years from international football. He has scored 20+ goals in the past three seasons for Real Madrid, perhaps impressing Didier Deschamps enough to recall him to the squad. While he played no part in Les Bleus’ Euro and World Cup runs, he might be the wild card Deschamps might use to surprise opponents and deliver crushing blows in the Group of Death.
#7: ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI TO MAKE POLES THE DARK HORSES
If there is one team that can upset the entire continent with their performance in the tournament – it is Poland. And it is likely due to one man – Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker has won the European Golden Shoe this season with an incredible 41 goals for his club, beating a 49-year-old record. His performance could be key to the Poles’ chances to cruise past the group stage and create at least one upset in the knockout phase of the tournament.
#6: PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT – KYLIAN MBAPPE
Ever since becoming the second-youngest goal scorer in a World Cup final, Kylian Mbappe has only grown by leaps and bounds in his ability and presence of mind. The Paris Saint-Germain striker has been the top-scorer in Ligue 1 for three consecutive years and has become an integral part of the Les Bleus squad, complementing Antoine Griezmann’s experience with his dynamism. With France being our top pick to win the tournament, Kylian Mbappe is our top pick to be the player of the tournament, whose performance is key to the Les Bleus campaign.
#5: SOUTHGATE’S ENGLAND TO RECREATE THEIR 2018 MAGIC
Gareth Southgate’s men went into the 2018 World Cup with no expectations whatsoever. But the surprise run of England to the semifinals of the tournament galvanised the nation like never before, leading to a resurgence of the sporting talent in the country. With three years of experience since then, Southgate has refined his team to be world-beaters. They have won all five of their last five fixtures and will be heading into the tournament in top form. They face a relatively easy group stage, but they are likely to meet Portugal or France in the knockouts, making their quest for a title difficult to achieve.
#4: PORTUGAL WILL BE ELIMINATED IN THE SEMIS
The defending champions have a difficult path to tread in their quest for the title, but the quality of their side along with the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo will see them through to the last stages of the tournament. Fernando Santos’s side have not been at the best of their form, with some critics marking the end of the Golden Generation of the Selecao ahead of the tournament. But a side as talented as the Selecao will not bow out silently, and they are expected to fight tooth-and-nail to the last before making an exit from the title race.
#3: BELGIUM TO REACH FINALS
Belgium are going through their Golden Generation of football featuring Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard. Their route to the Euros has been impeccable with 10 wins out of 10 qualification fixtures. Roberto Martinez’s side have an easy path to the knockout stages of the tournament unlike other favourites – they are the undeniable favourites to come out on top of Group B. Belgium are the only European team apart from France to have reached the quarter-finals in each of the last three major tournaments, and both European giants are likely to meet once more in the finals.
#2: FRANCE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
While there are multiple favourites to win the tournament, none can match the sheer team depth and dynamism that Les Bleus have brought to the game in recent years. Didier Deschamps will be keen to win the European crown after winning the World Cup in 2018, and he has picked a squad laden with dynamism and experience in equal measure to accomplish the task. Boasting the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante in their prime years, Les Bleus are our pick to win the tournament.
#1: CRISTIANO RONALDO TO SEAL HIS RECORD AS GOAT OF EUROS
While predicting the top scorer in a competition full of legends and upcoming stars is a difficult task, there can be no doubt that the Portuguese striker will be among the contenders for the Golden Boot. Cristiano Ronaldo has already scored nine goals in Euros throughout his long career, the joint highest in the history of the tournament. The 36-year-old Juventus star has won the Golden Boot in Serie A this year, proving once again that his ability remains undiminished. With Portugal being one of the favourites to win the tournament, Ronaldo will likely have numerous matches to extend his record.
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