Teams: Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales
Italy is definitely the headline team in this group, and they will also be playing the first match of the tournament, against Turkey. The team cruised through qualifying winning all ten matches along the way and it will be hoping to continue this perfect record throughout the tournament. However, the squad has far less tournament experience than many of the other teams.
Switzerland has a very experienced side that reached the Round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup and the previous Euro tournament. Furthermore, last time around the Welsh team surprised many by reaching the semi-finals before losing to Portugal, the eventual champions. Turkey could also pose a challenge; they were highly impressive in qualifying and finished just two points behind the French. Therefore, this group could be far more competitive than expected.
There are a number of players to watch out for here in all of the teams. Italy’s Nicolo Barella was one of the top players in Serie A this season and won the league’s award for best midfielder. Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka has been linked with a move to Roma and he is ranked in the top 90 percentile in Europe’s five big leagues this season in passes attempted, completion percentage, and progressive passes while playing for Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Hakan Çalhanoğlu has been one of the most dangerous creative players in Europe over the last year. At Milan, he showed he can take an excellent free kick and he had 5.76 shot-creating actions per 90. All eyes will of course be on Wales’ Gareth Bale. He has performed well since returning to Tottenham Hotspur and scored better than a goal per 90 minutes in just 920 minutes of playing time for the team.
Teams: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Russia
Belgium is the team that everyone will be watching in this group. They are the only team, besides Italy, to win all of their qualifying matches. The team has a number of big name players and they will be hoping to do better than last time, when they lost 3-1 to Wales in the quarterfinals. Belgium finished third in the last World Cup and they will be determined to lift their first trophy.
From the remaining teams, Russia was most impressive in qualifying, losing just once (to Belgium). The team reached the quarterfinals in the last World Cup and they will be looking to build on that success. Denmark made it through qualifying unbeaten, but they drew four games. The team failed to qualify for the last Euro tournament but they did reach the World Cup quarterfinals. As for Finland, this is their first ever major tournament, and they are sure to find this group a challenge.
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku is a player to watch throughout this tournament. He recently won the Serie A MVP after scoring 24 goals and providing 11 assists at Inter Milan. He is also a candidate to pick up the Golden Boot award. Denmark’s Simon Kjær is another to watch, and it will be up to him to try to slow down Lukaku.
Russia’s Aleksei Miranchuk recently moved to Atalanta from Lokomotiv Moscow where he has been one of the team’s best attacking midfielders. Finland’s best-known player is Jesse Joronen who put in a number of good performances in Serie A last season, and if the team are to have any chance of progressing, then he will likely have to perform in a similar manner.
Teams: Austria, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Ukraine
While on the face of it the Netherlands may be the clear favourites in this group, the squad has very little tournament experience after the team failed to qualify for the last World Cup or Euro competition. Furthermore, captain Virgil Van Dijk will be absent due to injury.
Nonetheless, the relative weakness of the group will give the Dutch a chance to find their footing. However, the Ukraine has potential to pose a serious challenge after they won a qualifying group that included the defending champions Portugal. Austria and North Macedonia were in the same qualifying group and they finished second and third respectively behind Poland. Austria played in the last Euro tournament, their first since 2008, and this tournament is the first that North Macedonia has played in since becoming an independent nation ahead of the 1994 World Cup.
With Van Dijk absent, the Dutch’s defence will largely fall to Stefan De Vrij and he is likely to be tested when facing the Ukraine. There are a number of players to watch out for on the Ukrainian squad, in particular Ruslan Malinovsky. He was highly impressive at Atalanta this season; his eight goals were excellent, but it was his ability to use passing to contribute 12 assists that really stood out.
Austria’s Marcel Sabitzer will be under pressure to perform after his excellent performance against Tottenham in the 2019/20 Champions League. When it comes to North Macedonia, Genoa’s Goran Pandev is probably the best known player, and while he is 37, he still scored seven league goals last season.
Teams: Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Scotland
This could be a highly competitive group with the 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia and the semi-finalists England. England are one of the favourites to win the tournament with their best team in quite some time. In qualifying, England came top of its group losing just one game along the way, 2-1 to the Czech Republic.
However, it is Croatia that will pose the biggest challenge to England. There is a great deal of talent on the squad, including Luka Modric. As noted, the Czechs defeated England in qualifying, so they too cannot be easily dismissed. Finally, Scotland appears to be the weakest in the group, having won five games in qualifying and lost five. They only reached the tournament after defeating Israel and Serbia on penalties.
All eyes are sure to be on England’s Harry Kane. He is by far the biggest name on the team and has just had an excellent season for Tottenham in which he scored 23 goals and provided 14 assists in the Premier League. As such, it is no surprise that he is considered a serious contender for the Golden Boot. Croatia’s Modric is also one to watch, and despite having played more than 2,700 league minutes for Real Madrid this season the 35 year old shows no sign of slowing down.
The Czech Republic will be looking to Patrik Schick, who scored 9 goals for Bayer Leverkusen last season. Scotland’s biggest talent is probably Scott McTominay. The Manchester United player will have his work cut out against the big names in the group, and it may prove to be too much for him.
Teams: Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
Spain qualified for the tournament without losing a single game in a group that also included Sweden. While the team may no longer have big name from its golden generation, they showed just how dangerous they can be when they defeated Germany 6-0 in a Nations League match last November.
Sweden secured 21 points in qualifying while Poland is coming to the competition having won their group, ahead of Austria. In the meantime, Slovakia defeated both Northern Ireland and Ireland in qualifying, but this group may prove too tough for them to progress from.
The star player in this group is undoubtedly Robert Lewandowski. He is one of the world’s leading goal scorers having scored 41 for Bayern Munich in just 29 Bundesliga appearances last season. Slovakia will be looking to former Napoli captain Marek Hamšík to hold of Lewandowski, together with Alvaro Morata.
Spain is sure to be helped by Ferran Torres who scored seven goals for Manchester City this season. He has already scored six goals in 10 appearances for the national side and will be looking to build on this. Meanwhile, Sweden will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to a knee injury. Therefore, the team may be looking to Mattias Svanberg, who scored five goals and provided two assists for Bologna this season.
Teams: France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal
This has been labelled the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’, with the defending World Cup champions France, the defending Euro champion Portugal, and the 2014 World Cup winner Germany. The French are favourites to win the tournament, but there is no guarantee that they will top the group. Germany are sure to pose a real challenge, even after a few disappointing performances in recent months.
In the last tournament, Portugal actually finished third in a group with Hungary and Iceland. However, they then improved to survive the knockout stages, defeating Germany and France on the way to the title. The final team in the group, Hungary, surprised many by reaching the knockout stage in the last tournament, topping their group. However, they were then thoroughly defeated by Belgium. In qualifying, the team struggled and only made it to the tournament by defeating Bulgaria and Iceland in the play-offs.
Having scored four goals for France in the World Cup, all eyes will once again be on Kylian Mbappe. Since moving to PSG, he has gone from strength to strength and he is sure to be a huge asset for the team. Germany’s Joshua Kimmich has shown himself to be a key part of Bayern Munich in recent years and he will have to be at his best to help the team navigate this difficult group.
Hungary’s Willi Orban has performed well in recent years for RB Leipzig and last season he scored four goals and provided one assist in 29 starts. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo will be Portugal’s biggest name player. He currently has the joint record for most Euro goals, with nine, and he will be determined to not only break that record, but also help his team defend their title.