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  • Euro 2020 – Making the Case for Each of the 3 Favourites

    Euro 2020 – Making the Case for Each of the 3 Favourites

    If you have watched the recent round of internationals for World Cup 2022 qualifying, you will have noticed that plenty of big teams have struggled. Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands all dropped points against ‘lesser’ opposition, and some of the other leading nations laboured despite victories. It’s pointedly clear that fatigue has played a role, a fact not helped by FIFA/UEFA’s insistence on playing three matches during the international break.

    Nevertheless, the players will limp on through the club season and then join their international teams for Euro 2020 (UEFA insists on calling it that despite the postponement of a year) in early June. For those betting on sports with 888sport, there is a three-way tie for the status of favourites, with England, Belgium and France all available at 5/1. Below we want to set out arguments for why they deserve that tag and then make the case why they don’t. We’ll start with England

    England

    Why they deserve the favourites tag

    Two reasons. The first is that England, more or less, have home advantage throughout the tournament. There is still talk of moving the entire competition to England. But even if UEFA doesn’t, England will play the Group Stage, Semi-Finals and Final at Wembley. That’s a reasonable advantage. Secondly, there is relatively weak opposition in Group D – Scotland, Czech Republic and Croatia. Compare that to the ‘group of death’, featuring Germany, France, Portugal and Hungary. In addition, we know that England have one of the best squads in a generation. Strong enough that players like Jadon Sancho might not even make the squad.

    Why they don’t deserve the favourites tag

    There is a sense that Gareth Southgate does not know his best team, or even the type of formation best suited to England. In addition, there may be a willingness to shoehorn players like Jack Grealish or Phil Foden into the line-up to the detriment of the team’s fluidity. Much of this is reminiscent of England’s previous golden generation when England struggled to get a balanced midfield with players like Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.

    Belgium

    Why they deserve the favourites tag

    Quite simply, because they are widely considered the best team on the planet. Moreover, the core of this team developed through the same youth system. Whereas England will try to forge a cohesive team in the coming weeks, Roberto Martinez and his players know each other inside out. Experience is also key – four players in the Belgium squad have over 100 caps, and another six have over 50.

    Why they don’t deserve the favourites tag

    It is hard to make a case against Belgium. However, there are clearly worries over the form and fitness of captain Eden Hazard. The former Chelsea star has struggled to establish himself at Real Madrid, and there are even rumours that he will return to Chelsea in a cut-price deal. Also, there are questions over the ageing defence, and perhaps a sense of over-reliance on Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne.

    France

    Why they deserve the favourites tag

    Still the deepest and most talented squad in world football. It’s worth remembering that Les Bleus were considered quite a young team when winning the World Cup in 2018, and many of those players are only now approaching their peak. Kylian Mbappé is one of the keys to success, and the PSG man seems to be hotting up at the right time after a slow (by his standards) start to the club season.

    Why they don’t deserve the favourites tag

    We mentioned the group of death earlier, and we guess that France would be the sole favourites had they not been drawn against Portugal and Germany. Would it be a surprise to see the French finish third behind that duo? Maybe, but only a small one. Another issue is the striker. Players like Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann like to drop deep, a fact that has left Didier Deschamps experimenting with either Anthony Martial or Olivier Giroud as the central striker. The former is having a poor season, and Giroud divides opinion as to his calibre at the highest level.


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