The world will soon see Europe’s elite teams go head-to-head in a summer to be dominated by sports. With the tournament set to begin this Friday with Turkey vs Italy as the opening act of a month-long circus, I thought it would be fitting to give you my predictions for one of sports biggest events.
Who will win Euro 2021?
The burning question everyone has been arguing about since last year’s cancelled tournament, who will be the eventual winners? For me, this question is rather easy, but one can make a valid enough argument to warrant. Realistically there are only six teams that are seen as potential winners, with France, England, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and Spain all of whom are in their own bracket.
Let us look at each team and where they stand coming into the tournament.
The reigning World champions fell short as the host nation in the previous European Championship back in 2016 with a shock defeat to Ronaldo’s injury ravaged Portugal. Since that lost France have been truly dominating. Brushing aside teams on their way to winning the World Cup in 2018. On paper Les Bleus easily have the strongest squad, with two to three high quality players in each position, and with players like N’golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe all having great ends to their respective seasons. France is the team to beat coming into this tournament.
What can be said about an England side coming into a big international tournament? The high hopes and expectations never seem to dwindle and with a squad full of youth and talent, it is hard not to get excited about what potentially lies ahead for Gareth Southgate’s side. England are the only team who can match France in terms of squad depth, being their best crop of players since the golden generation, and with the likes of Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish all showcasing their ability, Southgate is spoiled for choice that not many teams can fall back on. The only issue with England is how they set-up, how will they play against the bigger teams down the line? will the same mistakes arise like they did in 2018?
Coming into the euros, rather or not Southgate will decide to start players on form rather than merit will be scrutinised if they fail to live up to expectations.
The reigning European champions are not to be slept on coming into this tournament. Unlike in 2016, Portugal is now seen as one of the favourites. They will have to be on tip-top form to progress out of the ‘’group of death’’ alongside France and Germany. Fernando Santos will be looking to capitalise on the momentum from some of his players, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Ruben Dias all had incredible seasons. If they perform like they should, taking the burden of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoulders can lead to success.
Perhaps the curse of the reigning champions might hinder their performance and with a lack of squad depth, it is hard to see Portugal repeating their 2016 heroics.
Prediction: Round of 16
It’s hard to know what Belgium will show up, if it is the Belgium that breezed through the qualifiers, winning every game, and having a goal difference of 37. This Euro’s and the upcoming World Cup is the last chance for the present golden generation to win something. The number one ranked team in the worlds 3-4-3 system has done wonders for them since Roberto Martinez took over in 2016 with the only issue with Belgium is how some of their high-profile players perform. Romelu Lukaku had the season of his life at Inter, but with Kevin De Bruyne suffering from a fractured eye socket and the decline of Eden Hazard, they will need the latter firing on all cylinders to stand a realistic chance of challenging.
This is a strange time for an already established Germany side, after an awful World Cup campaign in 2018. Being placed in the ‘’group of death’’ will prove if this team still has the desire to compete, with some experienced players still present and some quality young players only improving, Joachim Low will hope he can prove doubters wrong with a successful swansong. While they have a very much Bayern Munich-centric squad at their disposal, how they bounce back from their 2018 escapades will make or break their tournament.
The days of exciting football, led by the infamous ‘’tiki-taka’’ style that made Spain from 2008-2012 the greatest international side in history is now over. With Luis Enrique sticking with a more pragmatic approach to a staggered Spain squad. Since their 2012 European Championship win, Spain have flopped hard at major tournaments, with many established players aging. While they had a successful qualifying campaign, staying unbeaten throughout. This Spain squad still has a lot to be desired.
Player of the Tournament
Many players have a solid chance to have a great tournament. The likelihood of it coming from a team outside the favourites as rather slim. France, England, Belgium, and Portugal have many players who can lay claim to the honour.
Latest Euro 2021 player of the tournament odds
Kylian Mbappe (France) 8/1
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) 8/1
N’Golo Kante (France) 14/1
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 16/1
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) 20/1
Eden Hazard (Belgium) 20/1
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal) 20/1
Harry Kane (England) 12/1
Prediction: Kylian Mbappe (France)
Euro 2021 will showcase some of the best strikers in the world battling it out to win the Golden Boot award, with the likes of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku the current betting favourites to take home the award. Tottenham’s marksman will be hoping to play to his limit in order to get that transfer away from Spurs and claiming another major individual award will only strengthen his claim.
Belgium powerhouse Romelu Lukaku had an incredible season for Inter Milan, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, they will all be looking to take home the prize.
Latest Euro 2021 Golden Boot odds
Harry Kane (England) 5/1
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) 6/1
Kylian Mbappe (France) 9/1
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 9/1
Karim Benzema (France) 16/1
Timo Werner (Germany) 20/1
Ciro Immobile (Italy) 20/1
Prediction: Romelu Lukaku