These sides have the potential to go really deep into the championship.
After being postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UEFA Euro 2020 are scheduled to begin in June 2021. What makes this edition more interesting is that it’s set to be held in 12 different countries. Former UEFA president Michel Platini has touted this as a ‘romantic one-off’ event to celebrate 60 years of the tournament.
Adding to our intrigue are North Macedonia and Finland, who will make their debuts in the tournament. On the other hand, Scotland return to the stage after a 24-year hiatus. Heavyweights like France, Portugal, Germany, England and Belgium are some of the favorites for the title. But keep an eye out for these five dark horses of the competition too.
Turkey punched above their weights in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2008, reaching the semi-finals in both. Now, following a slump in the last decade, the Crescent-Stars have revived again.
Finishing just two points behind France in Group H, they were unbeaten over two legs against the world champions. Surprisingly, they even caused a shock 2-1 upset in the home leg. Although their performance at the UEFA Nations League was disappointing, manager Şenol Güneş still has a talented squad at his disposal.
Burak Yılmaz and Yusuf Yazıcı were an instrumental part of Lille’s title-winning squad. Hakan Çalhanoğlu wrapped up another prolific campaign with AC Milan. Not to mention a host of talented youngsters such as Çağlar Söyüncü, Ozan Kabak, Merih Demiral, Cengiz Ünder, and Mert Müldür.
If the side can conjure their qualifiers form in the Euro 2020, expect Turkey to to catch everyone’s attention.
Are we seeing the renaissance of Danish football? The 1996 European champions navigated through the qualifying campaign unbeaten and then impressed in the UEFA Nations League too, finishing above England in second-place behind Belgium.
Christian Eriksen is the face of Denmark but it would be foolish of teams to discount other world-class names in the squad. The side especially has a menacing strike force with Martin Braithwaite, Yussuf Poulsen, Robert Skov, and Christian Gytkjaer all jostling for places in the XI.
Denmark share a tough Euro 2020 group with Belgium, Russia, and Finland, but have the home advantage with all three of their matches scheduled in Copenhagen. So expectations are high and now’s the chance for the Nordic country to announce their arrival.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out from the Euro 2020 with an injury. It’s a huge blow for Sweden even before the start of the competition. Yet, the Blagult have a talented enough squad that no one should take lightly.
They lost just once during the qualifiers and outscored 47 out of 55 sides participating. In Aleksander Isak, Dejan Kulusevski, and Mattias Svanberg, the Nordic outfit have some talented young players, while old guards such as Emil Forsberg, Robin Quaison, Marcus Berg, and Sebastian Larsson will bring their wealth of experience.
Janne Andersson’s squad have been drawn in a fairly competitive group alongside Spain, Poland and Slovakia. It won’t be surprising to see them finish as its winners.
The biggest surprise of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was its own host. Russia surpassed everyone’s expectations by reaching the quarter-finals, beating former champions Spain along the way, and winning plaudits for their all-out attacking style of play.
Now, the Sbornaya will be eager to prove it was no fluke. Spearheaded by menacing attackers like Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev, they have a formidable unit and look well-placed to progress from a group containing favorites Belgium, Denmark, and debutants, Finland.
Russia will again be hosting some of the games and hope to bank on their experience and success from the World Cup to repeat the trick.
You’d ask, how come a side that didn’t even qualify for the last World Cup is now a ‘dark horse’ at the Euro 2020? Get this – one of only two sides to cap off a 100% win record in the qualifiers. Most goals in the qualifying phase bar one. Second-least amount of goals conceded. Twenty-five games unbeaten.
Head coach Roberto Mancini has not only revived Italy after the calamitous run under Gian Piero Ventura but took them a few notches higher too, ushering in several talented youngsters while retaining some of the old guards.
He has employed a vibrant, attacking brand that brings out his players’ best in addition to defensive resolve. To say the former Manchester City manager has improved results is a massive understatement – he’s turned Italy into champions material again.