Heart of Football

Euro 2020 Round Table: Winners, dark horses, flops, top scorers, fondest memories

With what will surely go down as one of the more unusual European Championships after the year-long delay due to the global pandemic, not to mention the pan-continental set-up with games played from Azerbaijan to London, we sat down to discuss the key names we expect to turn up.

Bryan Moore, Jack Wills, Andrew McAlister, James Oddy, Sam Harris and Richard Pike lay out their predictions for the tournament, with plenty of different picks. Enjoy!

Which country do you think will win the Euros, and why?

Bryan Moore – Italy. Having witnessed them dismantle and dismiss the Czech Republic in a recent game, it was clear there is an air of togetherness about them. All fighting for the one goal and running as smoothly as a club side in peak form.

Jack Wills – Italy. They’ve really turned the corner since their omission from the 2018 World Cup and have an exciting young core group with a few seasoned pros to help galvanise. Turkey is a tricky opening game, but home-field advantage should see them through. There may be more star-studded squads but I see Italy going deep in this tournament.

James Oddy – France. The squad is quality from top to bottom. Some of the players have declined from 2018 but I think they’ve still got enough about them to do it

Andrew McAlister – France. Favourites for a reason. With both a solid defence and goalscorers throughout, Les Bleus’ impressive squad (including a returning Karim Benzema) should prove too much even for the competition’s toughest group.

Sam Harris – Portugal. Arguably a better team than 2016 with Cancelo, Fernandes and Andre Silva added. Could go under the radar and Ronaldo will want to go out on a high.

Richard Pike – France. Despite the group of death draw for Didier Deschamps’ outfit, the quality all across their squad stands out: Griezmann, Mbappe, Kante, Varane, Pogba, a now returning Karim Benzema amongst several other stars Les Bleus possess

Who will be the biggest flop (player or country) and why?

Bryan – Spain. For an equal and opposite reason to Italy being my possible winners. No cohesion. No stars. Just pass, pass, Morata. No right back in the squad, no decent option up front. No hope.

Jack – Harry Kane and England. Kane has been an injury worry for several years now and after another couple of mid-season issues, could desperately do with a rest. England have an exciting squad but with a fairly one-hit wonder waistcoat in charge, if Kane goes down I think it’ll be curtains for the Three Lions.

James – Unfortunately I have to say England. Although there’s immense talent there I worry about a lack of cohesion and composure

Andrew – Germany. A significantly weaker squad than in previous tournaments, Germany are lacking in defensive options and have been in poor form ahead of the tournament – could well struggle to make it out of the Group of Death.

Sam – England unfortunately as despite all our attacking talent, it doesn’t look like we will score enough goals and our central defence won’t be good enough in the knockout stages. Don’t think the expectation will help.

Richard – Netherlands. Don’t rate Frank de Boer as a manager after his exploits with Crystal Palace & Inter Milan. Shaky recent results including a loss vs Turkey and draw vs Scotland. Tough opposition in form of Ukraine & Austria in their group too

Who will finish as top goalscorer?

Bryan – Burak Yilmaz. Going out on a limb with a left field choice here. There’s no fun picking the usual suspects. Yilmaz is a man on fire. Coming off a great year with Lille and a young squad around him this summer. Could the old guy surprise us all?

Jack – Romelu Lukaku. He’s been a predator all year in a notoriously defence-laden league in Serie A. He is in a team that feels like it should be a Harlem Globetrotter  equivalent and with guys like Kevin de Bruyne and Hazard feeding him I see Lukaku going goal-crazy.

James – Romelu Lukaku. He’s been excellent all season and has plenty of service in that team. I expect Belgium to go far

Andrew – Romelu Lukaku. Impeccable form for Inter this season, coming into a team full of playmakers. Arguably the easiest group in the competition too – three braces wouldn’t be out of the question and six goals could seal top scorer at the Euros.

Sam – Andre Silva (Portugal theme here!) Had a great season for Frankfurt with 28 goals, a season-best tally and will have Fernandes, a rejuvenated Renato Sanches creating for him.

Richard – Ciro Immobile. I’m going with Immobile as Italy look to have landed a favourable group draw. Immobile is looking a likely starter for Italy and I’m backing him to take his Lazio form of the last two seasons into the Euros.

Which country will be your dark horse and why?

Bryan – Finland. Every great tournament has a surprise team going further than expected. Finland have a group that they could do well in. Sneak 2nd place and the semi finals could beckon. You just wonder if they have peaked too soon.

Jack – Denmark. Schmeichel and Kjaer are an imposing couple of stalwarts at the back. Eriksen looks revitalised after a slow start to life in Milan and Dolberg and Poulsen can mix it up going forward. They were dull at the 2018 World Cup but should have confidence after a useful qualification campaign.

James – Turkey. They’ve got a really interesting blend of youth and experience in the team with players in form.

Andrew – Italy. Looking like the real deal once again with the perfect mix of experience and youth. A fluid attack could bring lots of goals under a tactically-astute Mancini, and a favourable group should allow them to get the ball rolling early on.

Sam – Poland, Lewandowski is in unbelievable form even by his lofty standards as is due a strong showing at a major tournament. In a favorable group with Spain, Slovakia and Sweden. Brighton’s Jakub Moder and Leeds Mateuz Klich should stand out.

Richard – Italy. Going into the Euros off the back of a 27-game unbeaten streak. A group draw which looks very favourable on paper. A good manager in Roberto Mancini who has rescued Italy from the nightmare spell of Ventura. Finally, a good mix of youth and experience in the squad.

What’s your fondest memory of the Euros and why? Tournament, match, player, goal, fan moment – anything.

Bryan – “At 3.37 on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the 12th of June in Stuttgart, West Germany. We’ll always remember that, won’t we?”

Jack – As a Scottish fan I don’t have much of a personal connection, but I remember the insane game between Turkey and the Czech Republic in 2008 just taking my breathe away. So much drama culminating in one of the best goalkeepers of that era dropping a clanger to give up the game.

James – Euro 2000 was my first as a fully formed football fan and Zidane’s masterful displays stayed with me. He was much more consistent at that tournament than France 98 and he turned me into a life long fan boy

Andrew – Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal as Wales knocked out Belgium in 2016. Pure shock as Wales marched as far as England had ever been in the Euros.

Richard – Euro 2008. Even though England embarrassingly failed to qualify, i really enjoyed this tournament. Had the lot, goals, exciting open football games, upsets, late drama in the Croatia vs Turkey game and finally a classic penalty shoot out between Italy and Spain in the Quarter Finals.



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