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Chapper’s Alternative Euro 2021 Preview

As a big football fan in the office, I was tasked with writing up a summary* of the teams and players taking part in the upcoming Euro 2020(21) Championships.

I've tried to include players not everyone will be aware of, a few fun facts about the teams and players, and of course, some friendly banter with our neighbours. Let’s hope it's a good tournament for all those involved in the charity sweepstake. Odds have been taken from Skybet, as a guide to what the bookies think the outcome will be.

*All views his own, and occasionally tongue-in-cheek

Group A:

Turkey

Turkey is a team on the up, and they boast some exciting young prospects. This tournament is likely to come a little too early for them though. There will be players in the squad that are familiar to English fans, such as Leicester duo Caglar Soyuncu and Cengiz Under as well as Liverpool's Ozan Kabak.

Key Player: Hakan Calhanoglu, who recently qualified for the Champions League with AC Milan, ending a long absence from the competition. Rumours are that Calhanoglu is looking to move in the summer. This could be the tournament to put himself in the shop window.

One to Watch: Yusuf Yazici recently won Ligue 1 with Lille, ending PSG's recent dominance. Yazici was one of their key players along with Turkey teammate Burak Yilmaz. Usually plays in attacking midfield or as a second striker.

Tournament Odds: 50/1 to win.

 

Italy 

Italy, as usual, are amongst the front runners for the tournament. They're led by ex-Man City manager, Roberto Mancini, and he has a wealth of talent at his disposal. Familiar players to fans are the Chelsea duo Emerson Palmieri and playmaker Jorginho.

Key Player: Ciro Immobile. If Italy go far in the competition, then this man is likely to be amongst the goals - he's hit 20 in 35 appearances this season, as well as 7 assists.

One to Watch: Gianluigi Donnarumma. Taken over as Italy's number one from Gigi Buffon, the 22 year old is expected to be one of the best keepers in the world in the near future. The player has recently rejected a contract with AC Milan, and will likely be joining Juventus or PSG in the Summer.

Tournament Odds: 11/1 to win.

 

Wales

Wales's plans for the Euros have been disrupted with manager, Ryan Giggs, recently being charged by the police. Former Sheffield United player Robert Page will now lead the team in the Euros. This is a tough group for Wales, and they will have to be at their best to see the knockout stages.

Key Player: Gareth Bale. The on-loan Spurs attacker will likely be Wales's best hope of reaching the knockout rounds. He will need to find some consistency in his game after largely being disappointing this season. Could be the last major tournament we see him in, with rumours Bale wants to quit football for golf.

One to Watch: Dan James. Manchester United's speedy winger has got the pace to get fans off their seats - potentially a defender’s nightmare. 

Tournament Odds: 150/1 to win.

 

Switzerland

Switzerland to wrap up group A, and are likely to be a well organised and difficult opposition to break down. Granit Xhaka will be a familiar face to Arsenal fans.

Key Player: Xherdan Shaqiri hasn't played as much as the Swiss would like this season, but he is held in high esteem and will be an important attacking threat for the team.

One To Watch: Nico Elvedi. Manchester City were rumoured to be interested in the Monchengladbach defender not too long ago, so it will be interesting to see if he can showcase those abilities on the big stage.

Tournament Odds: 66/1 to win.

  

Group B:

Denmark

Denmark traditionally don't get past the group stage. However, being in a weaker group may aid their bid this time around. Fans will be familiar with FA cup winning keeper Kaspar Schmeichel, Champions League defender Andreas Christenson, and Spurs’ Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Key Player: Christian Eriksen. Serie A winner and former Spurs man, Eriksen will be looking to recapture some form in the tournament. With Inter struggling for cash, they will be hoping Eriksen will attract some interest for if they decide to sell.

One to Watch: Jonas Wind. The Kobenhavn striker has had a good campaign scoring 15 times in 28 appearances, and assisting 8 times. We may only see him from the bench if Kasper Hjulmand decides to go with Barcelona forward, Martin Braithwaite

Tournament Odds: 33/1 to win.

  

Finland 

Finland makes their debut at a major tournament this summer. Games against Russia and Denmark are likely to be crucial in their hopes of getting through the group.

Key Player: Teemu Pukki. Scoring 26 goals for Norwich in their promotion campaign as well as 10 goals in qualification for Finland, the striker will be integral to Finland’s hopes.

One to Watch: Glen Kamara, the Rangers midfielder had a good campaign and has received plenty of plaudits this season. 

Tournament Odds: 200/1 to win.

 

Belgium

England's nemesis from the last World Cup come to the Euros again as one of the favourites to lift the cup, and you don't have to look hard to see why with a wealth of players from Europe’s top clubs at their disposal.

Key Player: Kevin De Bruyne. Belgian fans will be hoping KDB gets over Champions League heartache and can lead their team to glory. On his day he is simply untouchable. 

One to Watch: The whole team. Should be one of the best teams to watch as a neutral with their ability to rack up high scores easily.

Tournament Odds: 6/1 to win.

 

Russia

Russia often flops at major tournaments. However, with this relatively easy group, they will fancy their chances much like the others to make it to the knockout rounds, and they do have a few exciting players this time around.

Key Player: Alexander Golovin. If the Monaco midfielder remains injury free then he has the potential to open up games and really excite.

One to Watch: Alexei Miranchuk has had a good campaign for Atalanta this season, much like Golovin has the ability to score and unlock defences.

Tournament Odds: 66/1 to win.

  

Group C: 

Netherlands

Netherlands have had some of the most exciting players ever over the years. This team is again stacked with talent. However, getting the best out of them still proves elusive and Frank De Boer is tasked with finding that formula.

Key Player: Memphis Depay. The former Manchester United player has gone from strength to strength since leaving the club, and has been attracting the interest of Barcelona recently.

One to Watch: Teun Koopmeiners. The AZ midfielder has had an excellent campaign this season, scoring 15 and assisting a further 5. Hopefully he will be given game time to showcase his talents. 

Tournament Odds: 11/1 to win.

 

Ukraine

Ukraine has a large contingent of players still playing in their own country. They will be competing with Austria to get through to the group stage.

Key Player: Ruslan Malinovkyi. Another selection from the entertaining Atalanta team. Malinovkyi has stepped into the departing Gomez's shoes comfortably this season. 

One To Watch: Oleksandr Zinchenko. The Manchester City man can play a number of roles and is likely to be an important player this year and going in the future for Ukraine.

Tournament Odds: 50/1 to win.

  

Austria

One of England's warm up games for the Euros, a solid but unexciting team.

Key Player: David Alaba. Newly signed for Real Madrid, Alaba has been a solid performer for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for a number of years.

One to Watch: If the friendly with England is anything to go by then they're probably one not to watch. 

Tournament Odds: 100/1 to win.

 

North Macedonia

Even the most avid football fan could be forgiven for a lack of knowledge of the rank outsiders, North Macedonia team. There are a couple of players people will be familiar with, including Leeds' Ezdzdan Alioski and former Champions League winner, Goran Pandev.

Key Player: Eljif Elmas, the Napoli midfielder, is likely to be the main threat in the team.

Tournament Odds: 500/1 to win.

  

Group D:

England

Everyone has their favourites, who they think should/shouldn't be in the team, but Gareth has made his selection and we need to get behind him. It's been a terrible couple of years for everyone so hopefully we can all enjoy it.

Key Player: Harry Kane, England's talisman. If he can stay fit, then we have goals in the team. 

One to Watch: Get behind all the team!

Tournament Odds: 5/1 to win.

 

Croatia

Croatia will likely be our toughest test in the group stage, boasting a strong side in all departments and with plenty of familiar faces. Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic, and ex Liverpool man Dejan Lovren amongst them. 

Key Player: Luka Modric. Although ageing, the Real Madrid man still has bags of ability and will be a thorn in the opposition’s side. 

One to Watch: Bruno Petkovic. The 6ft 4in Dinamo Zagreb striker can be a focal point of the attack. He has 6 goals in 14 games for his country so far and will be looking to add to it.

Tournament Odds: 28/1 to win.

 

Scotland

A rare appearance on the world stage for our old foes north of the border. They will turn up in London for their cup final on the 18th of June and then procede to back whoever England play in the knockout rounds. They will be better remembered for their fancy dress than footballing ability.

Key Player: Andy Robertson. Had a good campaign despite Liverpool’s mid-season struggles.

One to Watch: Kevin Nisbet. Been in fine form for Hibs which has attracted attention from other clubs. Could use this as a springboard for his career.

Tournament Odds: 250/1 to win.

 

Czech Republic 

The 96 runners up will prove tricky opposition for Group D teams. There are familiar names such as Vladimir Coufal of West Ham, and Matej Bydra from Burnley in the team.

Key Player: Tomas Soucek. West Ham’s other entrant in the Czech side has been integral to West Ham's excellent campaign. 

One to Watch: Adam Hlozek. The 18 year old has scored 15 times in 19 matches for Sparta Prague this season. Not expected to start games but he's an exciting prospect, and he's already linked with joining up with his teammates at West Ham. 

Tournament Odds: 150/1 to win.

 

Group E:

Spain

Former Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique, made the controversial decision not to include any Real Madrid players in his selection, but also the inclusion of French born Aymeric Laporte got the nod. The 2012 winners have a favourable draw this year as well, as they are playing all their group games in Spain.

Key Player: Alvaro Morata. Expect high rotation amongst the squad, so if the Spaniard fails to fire then Europa League winner Gerard Moreno will be waiting in the wings.

One to Watch: Marcos Llorente. The highly versatile La Liga champion has been in excellent form for his club side, scoring 12 goals in 37 games this season. 

Tournament Odds: 8/1 to win.

 

Sweden

Sweden suffered a setback after the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic had to pull out of the squad due to injury. Sweden has a number of recognisable faces, such as Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof, and newly promoted Premier League man, Pontus Jansson.

Key Player: Alexander Isak. Trying to fill Zlatan's boots falls to the Real Sociedad man who fired his team to Spanish cup success against Real Madrid, scoring 2 goals twice.

One to Watch: Dejan Kulusevski. The 21 year old Juventus forward can play a number of positions across the front line and is expected to do big things in the future. 

Tournament Odds: 80/1 to win.

 

Poland 

Poland has a fairly strong team available to them this tournament. There are plenty of familiar names amongst their selection, including West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, Southampton defender Jan Bednarek, and Leeds midfield man Mateusz Klich.

Key Player: Robert Lewendowski. Scored 41 goals in 29 games for the Bundesliga winners - any team with this kind of threat has to be taken seriously.

One to Watch: Kacper Kozlowski. At 17 years old, Kacper will be one of the youngest players at the tournament. He recently won his first cap for Poland so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Tournament Odds: 80/1 to win.

 

Slovakia

Slovakia reached the finals by beating Northern Ireland in the play offs. This is their second appearance in the competition after first making the finals in 2016.

Key Player: Milan Skriniar. The Serie A winning centre back Skriniar will be responsible for organising the backline at the Euros. 

One to Watch: Stan Lobotka. The Napoli man should be a key figure to look out for in the middle of the park for Slovakia.

Tournament Odds: 250/1 to win.

 

Group F:

Hungary

Hungary faces the group of death - against 3 of the last 6 winners of the tournament. To add to the already monumental challenge, Dominik Szoboszlai (arguably the country’s best player) looks set to miss out through injury.

Key player: Peter Gulacsi. The Hungarian goalkeeper is likely to be the busiest man on the field when Hungary plays.

One to Watch: Apologies Hungary, it's difficult to find anything to shout about for you.

Tournament Odds: 250/1 to win.

  

Portugal

Portugal are the defending champions of this competition, after uniquely winning the last tournament, beating only 1 team in normal time, a 2-0 win against Wales. They will face off against the 2016 runners up, France, in the group stage. They are more than capable of retaining their title this time around.

Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo. Not much needs to be said about CR7, one of the greatest to ever play the game. After picking up an injury in the final last time around, the ‘winker’ was on the touchline encouraging his team all the way through. This could be his last Euros.

One to Watch: Pedro Goncalves. Stepping into Bruno Fernandes' shoes, the Sporting Lisbon player scored 23 in 32 en route to helping his team win the Primeira Liga for the first time since 01-02. He is heavily linked with a transfer away this summer, with Manchester Utd and Liverpool amongst the parties apparently interested.

Tournament Odds: 8/1 to win.

  

France

France are rightly the favourites to win the competition for a third time. With the depth of talent available to manager Didier Deschamps, you could make a case for even their third string going far into the tournament - something that was highlighted when the uncapped Aymeric Laporte was able to switch allegiance.

Key Player: Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe helped Les Bleus bring back the World Cup in 2018, and will be aiming to chase down Thierry Henry's 51 goals. He currently stands on 17 at the age of 22.

One to Watch: N'Golo Kante. Neither a young player, nor an unknown, but Kante is a player every team would love to have. Traditionally plays the Makelele role, but has evolved it to cover every blade of grass. 70% of the Earth is covered by water, the rest by N'golo Kante.

Tournament Odds: 9/2 to win.

  

Germany

3 times winners Germany, with their last win coming in the English-hosted 96 finals, round up a strong group F. Manager Joachim Low has already announced he will be departing the job at the end of the tournament, bringing an end to his 15 years in charge. Let’s hope he doesn't end on a high.

Key Player: Joshua Kimmich. Difficult choice with the talent available to the Germans, but the Bayern man is highly versatile and could play a key role for Germany.

One to Watch: Timo Werner. Very quick so he keeps defenders on their toes, however, his shots also keep the crowd on theirs.

Tournament Odds: 17/2 to win.

It will be an exciting competition this June & July, and it will be interesting to see which team comes out on top! Keep in mind that this sweepstake is to raise money for charity, and to have a bit of fun after lockdown. You can follow the tournament here. Make sure to also follow us over on Twitter, so you can keep up to date with the latest developments and updates. For any enquiries, please get in touch with our team via phone or email.

Written by Chris Chapman, Web Developer