The wait is over! The UEFA Euro 2020 finally kicks off this Friday. 24 teams, 51 matches all in 11 cities across Europe. As former UEFA president, Michel Platini put it in 2012, “It is a Euros Of Everywhere.”
It has been a long year of consistent football all over the continent. Hence, most of the players will prosecute matches at this tournament on reserve tanks.
Nevertheless, the competition is looking sure to produce plenty of excitement and talking points.
Matches from group A and B will be played this weekend. Having previewed the groups, here is what to expect from the ties.
Preview Of Group A
Turkey vs Italy
Italy takes on Turkey in the first match of the competition. Roberto Mancini, since his appointment as coach, has transformed the team from a directionless one to an effective machine capable of plenty.
La Nazionale has scored 70 goals and conceded 14 in 3 years under the current manager. Italy’s blend of experience and youth helps to give the right balance.
Turkey, on the other hand, has made remarkable improvements in the past few years. Senol Gunes is back with the team, having led them to a third-place finish in 2002.
They have the youngest squad of this tournament with an average age of 25. Their defensive solidity continues to become their greatest asset. Gunes’ men kept eight clean sheets during the qualifiers.
This encounter will definitely produce plenty of fireworks as well as a few goals.
Prediction: Over 1.5 goals
Wales vs Switzerland
Wales will continue to remind itself of its success at the 2016 edition. With just eight members left of that squad, the team is currently on a re-building process.
They will also miss their manager, Ryan Giggs who is facing trials for assault. However, Rob Page has shown competence with the team in the last seven months.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey will be the key men for the Welsh.
Switzerland has not been impeccable in recent major competitions. However, they remain 13th on the FIFA rankings and will be hoping to push as far as possible.
La Nati’s form have picked up with six wins picked in their last six matches. Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka will be the men to look out for.
Denmark vs Finland
Having failed to qualify for the last edition of the Euro, Denmark will be eager to get its first match to a flying start with a win over newcomers, Finland.
In preparation for this tournament, the Danes held Germany to a 1-1 draw and defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0.
Kasper Hjulmand will be counting on Eriksen and Martin Braithwaite to get his side over the line.
The entire population of Finland will be on their seats to cheer their team on, being their first-ever appearance at the European Championship.
Makku Kernerva’s side will hope to make a mark and not just the numbers. Teemu Pukki is the biggest star and will hope to supply the goals.
Belgium vs Russia
Belgium is one of the favourites to win this year’s Euro. Roberto Martinez’s men were flawless in the qualifiers, winning 10 of 10 matches.
They are on a 9-game unbeaten run across all competitions and with the depth of talent in the squad, they will be quick to lay down a marker.
Romelu Lukaku, who was one of the best players in the Serie A last will be keen to replicate his performance on the international front. This will be same for Kevin De Bruyne.
Russia has had a topsy turvy last few months. They were abysmal in the UEFA Nations League but won two out of three matches in the World Cup qualifiers.
The Russians lost twice to Belgium in the qualifying round for this competition. Therefore, they will be desperate to avoid a repeat.
Stanislav Cherchesov will be counting on his old head in Artem Dzyuba for the goals.