With the coronavirus pandemic having put paid to so many sporting events in 2020, it will be a relief for football fans to see Euro 2020 finally taking place this summer, a year later than originally planned. Anticipation is already building for the event, and although a few host cities have had to pull out due to Covid restrictions, we are set to see a fan presence throughout the tournament.
While the likes of England and France dominate the odds on the Euro 2020 winners, the European Championships is famous for throwing up shock results and surprise winners. It’s fair to say that few people expected Portugal to triumph in 2016, while victories for Greece in 2004 and Denmark in 1992 were even less predictable.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at a few teams who could spring something of a surprise this summer and walk home with the trophy.
After just losing out to France in the 2018 World Cup Final, it may surprise some that Croatia are listed at a price of 25/1 to win this summer’s European Championships. Zlatko Dalić is still the man in charge, and he may well fancy his team’s chances of going one better this season and claiming European glory.
Talented midfielder Luka Modrić is still going strong at the age of 35, and recently became the most-capped player in the history of the Croatian national team with 135. Combine that with the experience of players like Ivan Perišić and Dejan Lovren and Croatia could well be in a good position to do well at a second major tournament in a row.
Their group contains tournament favourites England, but Croatia will not fear Gareth Southgate’s side having beaten them in the semi-finals of the World Cup three years ago. If they can come through the group stage unscathed, then Croatia will be a difficult side to stop.
When you’ve got arguably the world’s greatest striker at your disposal, you can never be discounted, and the presence of Robert Lewandowski for Poland makes them a real threat. They came through qualifying with flying colours, losing just one match in topping their group, and the players may feel they have a point to prove after disappointing at the 2018 World Cup.
Of course, Poland have more to their advantage than just Lewandowski. Players like Arkadiusz Milik, Grzegorz Krychowiak and captain Kamil Glik make them a tough nut to crack, and Paulo Sousa will be keen to make his mark having taken the job in January this year.
Poland’s Euro 2020 group contains Spain, Sweden and Slovakia, but they’ll be confident of at least securing second place, having learned lessons from their ill-fated appearance at the last World Cup. If Lewandowski can find top form and Poland can build a bit of momentum, then you never know what could happen.
Another side that breezed through qualifying is Switzerland, with just one defeat in a group containing tricky opposition such as Denmark, Republic of Ireland and Georgia. The Swiss often seem to do well in qualifying and then fail to really make an impact at major tournaments, but they’ll be hoping that this year will prove to be a turn in the tide.
With a squad full of players with major tournament experience, it would be no surprise to see Switzerland cause a stir in Group A, which also contains Italy, Turkey and Wales. If they can emerge from the group stage with some confidence-boosting wins in the bank, then they may well have the belief to go all the way.
It feels as though Switzerland are due a deep run in a major tournament, and this year’s European Championships could well be the one.