Preview of the EM 2020: suggestions, scouting stories, video games that it’s important to see


The euros are here! Get ready for Euro 2020 with our comprehensive preview. Will England dazzle? Will France dominate? Can Ronaldo lead Portugal to their second European title in a row? ESPN illustration

The EM 2020 is finally here! 24 teams in 11 host cities promise to make the EM into a football festival – all LIVE on ESPN and ESPN + from June 11th to July 10th in the USA – but all top teams fighting for the title have problems entering the tournament. Can France make history? Can England withstand the pressure? Will Cristiano Ronaldo's supporting actor lead Portugal to the European Championship crown for the second time in a row? And which team is the next Iceland and ready to shock stronger opponents?

– Euro 2020 bracket and schedule

– Euro 2020 on ESPN: stream live games and replays (USA only)

We have all the information about the top teams, the competitive games and the big topics of the opening game on Friday between Italy and Turkey.

Jump to: France | England | Portugal | Germany | Spain | The "next Iceland" | Italy | Must-see games | Belgium | Scotland | Predictions

FRANCE: Can you make history with a second “double-double”?



Julien Laurens briefs on Karim Benzema after he left the friendly between France and Bulgaria injured.

The double double of the World and European Championships: They made it in 1998 and 2000 … but can they make it in 2018 and 2020?

France could be the first country to do this twice. None of their biggest rivals – Germany, Spain, Italy – have been able to, but France will never have a better opportunity to do so than this summer. The generation of Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps in 1998 was great, a team built on a collective mind about individual stars, and they won the World Cup without a formidable striker and incredible defensive. In 2000, however, they were at their peak, adding individual brilliance to their strength; with Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Youri Djorkaeff and David Trezeguet they finally had a wonderful line of scrimmage.

There are many similarities with the 1998/2000 team and this group anchored by Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and beyond, the Kylian Mbappe generation. Deschamps is the common thread and Les Bleus have never looked so strong.

– Euro 2020 on ESPN: stream live games and replays (USA only)
– Euro 2020: match schedules, ESPN live, match dates, times and locations
European Soccer Pick & # 39; Em: Compete against each other for $ 10,000

This team has the DNA of its head coach, as in 1998 with Aime Jacquet, one of Deschamps' mentors. Deschamps is first and foremost a pragmatic, conservative manager. His team will defend well and be well trained. He's also astute. After five years and 237 days without Karim Benzema since the dispute over the Mathieu Valbuena scandal, the French coach finally called him back in May to make this squad even stronger. At 33, the Real Madrid striker is in the best shape of his life. He's had another great season in Spain (23 goals, 9 assists in La Liga) and he's hungrier than ever after missing out on the success of 2018 and the near-success of 2016.

No other team at the EM has so much talent on the offensive. There is a bit of everything: speed, efficiency, strength, skills, strength, size, intelligence, nous. Mbappe is Henry on this team. Benzema plays like Anelka, a goalscorer who likes to go deep and organize the game. Antoine Griezmann is a little bit of everyone. Olivier Giroud, like Trezeguet, is a poacher and boxer. Ousmane Dembele, Kingsley Coman and Wissam Ben Yedder can start or come off the bench and bring speed, tight control and more goals.



Kylian Mbappe can't take his eyes off the ball as he speaks to French astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the International Space Station.

Then there is N & # 39; Golo Kante. The Champions League final Man of the Match is the best midfielder in the world on the way to the European Championship and one of the best players in every position. He brings so much to this team in terms of effort, speed of work, and intelligence in defense or attack; his partnership with Pogba will be key to keeping the French doing well, like 2018.

In 2016, France was the favorite for the European Championship, but lost to Portugal without Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2018 they were favorites again and won the World Cup. You're used to the pressures and expectations. The fact that they can make more history with the double-double will certainly not hinder them; if anything, it will spur them on even more. – Julien Laurens

ENGLAND: Can you answer the hype?

England's biggest challenge this summer could be how they deal with hope turning into expectations.

Manager Gareth Southgate took over the leadership of the national team five years ago in a desperate state, humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016 and forced to part ways with Roy Hodgson's successor Sam Allardyce after that tournament, just one game in his tenure amid a newspaper crisis. As a result, little was expected of England at the 2018 World Cup, but Southgate encouraged their side to break free from historical failures and enjoy the moment. They even broke the curse of the dreaded penalty shoot-out and defeated Colombia in the round of 16 with a penalty – their first victory in this way in a World Cup game.

Three years later, many of England's younger players have developed further at this tournament and are now being complemented by exciting talent from an even younger age.

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England have one of the youngest squads here and 15 of the 26-strong squad have no senior tournament experience. The selection of Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, 17 and 19 years old respectively, embodied Southgate's commitment to youth over experience, but now more is required of the group. This summer is the closest to a home tournament in the 25 years since the Euro & # 39; 96 when a nation fell into a frenzy with England advance to the semi-finals. Southgate will be able to strategize and practice in England's usual home, St. George & # 39; s Park, a facility that recreates a full-size pitch to Wembley's exact specifications. That will come in handy as all three of England's group games are in. Should England win Group D, they would play every game up to the final up to the first at Wembley.

– In England's Eurocamp: Wembley replica ground, basketball and BBQs
– England's Henderson breaks the golden rule with a penalty shoot-out

But the preparations were not ideal. Injuries to key players, including Manchester United defender Harry Maguire and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, have created uncertainty about Southgate's starting XI in the opening game against Croatia. Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was sidelined on Thursday due to injury, while Jack Grealish has a shin problem and Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips was hampered by a shoulder problem.



Steve Nicol explains why he believes the opposition defenders won't face Marcus Rashford at Euro 2020.

On the defensive there are question marks for England – especially against the top teams – but they have an exciting offensive talent that could cause problems for any team. In addition to Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who won the Golden Boot as top scorer at the last World Cup, Southgate has an embarrassing abundance, including the duo Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling from Manchester City, Marcus Rashford from Manchester United and Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund Dortmund vie around the recording.

Perhaps the key point is this: England reached the semi-finals at Russia 2018 with a significant amount of confidence in set pieces and a keen understanding of VAR. Only three goals came from open play, while their nine set pieces were the highest in a World Cup since records began in 1966. England need to be in better possession of the ball – an eternal tournament fails – and bring a more persistent threat while making sure they tighten defensively. It feels like Southgate has more options this time around and his tactical decisions will therefore be crucial, whether he plays with a back three like in Russia or a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 form.

This is still a young squad but England has gone through a long process of rebuilding. The next phase begins now. – James Olley

PORTUGAL: Finally Ronaldo has a real supporting cast

Portugal is always about Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the many talents available to coach Fernando Santos, the discussion about the reigning European champions always begins and ends with the 36-year-old Juventus striker, and that's hardly surprising.

Ronaldo goes into Euro 2020 just six goals ahead of the international world record of 109 goals by former Iranian striker Ali Daei. With one goal in this tournament, he will replace Michel Platini (both scored nine goals) as the top scorer of all time in the European Championship finals.

– How Euros Cope With COVID-19: What You Need To Know

He has scored in more euros (four) than any other player and played more games (21) than anyone else. His catch of 40 goals in European Championship qualification is also a record, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic having a distant second with 25. But perhaps for the first time since he stepped onto the international stage at the 2004 European Championships when he scored his first international goal in the opening game. Portugal does not have to rely solely on the performance of their aging talisman against Greece.

The advent of Liverpool's Diogo Jota and Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix since Portugal's 2016 European Championship win has given them more opportunities to attack, with Eintracht Frankfurt's Andre Silva another capable threat. In midfield, Manchester City's Bernardo Silva and Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes offer creativity and goals so any opponent who thinks stopping Ronaldo is the key to victory is unlikely to get a positive result.

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The problem for coach Santos is to accommodate all of his offensive possibilities. Ronaldo adds little to the defensive, neither in terms of tracking down opposing defenders nor putting pressure on opposing defenders, but he will always play because he is, well, Ronaldo and still able to change a game with a moment of brilliance. With Ronaldo allowed to roam the striker line, the other players have to do their part of the work off the ball, but Portugal are a team with a strong work ethic performance in support of Ronaldo.

The strength of Portugal's defensive options with Manchester City's Ruben Dias, 38-year-old Porto center-back Pepe, Borussia Dortmund full-back Raphael Guerreiro and Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio allows Santos to overload his team with offensive players. Portugal is a real contender for the European title.

Despite being closer to 40 than 30 this year, Ronaldo is still the first name on the team roster. He's the main actor, but this time around he has an impressive supporting role behind him. – Mark Ogden



Gab Marcotti talks about the sensational Cristiano Ronaldo that Cristiano Ronaldo had from the sidelines during the 2016 European Championship final.

GERMANY: Low's final tournament could end either way

Germany’s election campaign promises to be extremes: Either a triumphant exit for the outgoing coach Joachim Loew, who is leaving after the EM, or a disaster. In a group with France, Portugal and Hungary (the latter, unfortunately, without the brilliant Dominik Szoboszlai), Germany must show a remarkable improvement to end up at the top of Group F.

They endured some humiliating results back in 2021 – a 6-0 defeat by Spain, along with a 2-1 loss to North Macedonia, described by Bild as Low's third major failure after the 2018 World Cup debacle – but a one A quick look at their squad shows that they are reliably packed with quality. The backbone of the team comes from FC Bayern Munich, with Niklas Sule, Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane all should start. Müller and Mats Hummels are back after being publicly banned after the 2018 World Cup. You choose yourself, but then things get a little complicated. Low will only have room for one of several brilliant midfielders in Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz, Ilkay Gundogan, Florian Neuhaus and Toni Kroos, although the smart money is on Kroos to win that place. But the defense remains their Achilles heel.

Germany is dangerous, but the most unpredictable of the big nations at the EM. Will they rise to the challenge or collapse under the pressure? Getty Images

Then comes the question of who will score. They could operate easily without a clear striker, but with Timo Werner struggling for confidence after a dismal first season at Chelsea and Sane and Gnabry out of shape, goals could be a real problem.

Low has emphasized the importance of a winning "mentality" in his pre-tournament press conferences and he wants that to be the theme of this campaign. After Hansi Flick was confirmed as Low's successor, the outgoing German coach firmly believes his focus is on a victorious end to his remarkable 15-year tenure. "I'm going into this tournament with the same focus, focus and anticipation," said Low. "There's nothing I wouldn't do differently." – Tom Hamilton

SPAIN: COVID-19 issues aren't the only stress



Alejandro Moreno examines Spain's difficult situation amid a COVID-19 outbreak on the eve of the euro.

Spain’s EM preliminary could not have turned out much worse. Captain Sergio Busquets isolates himself at home after testing positive for COVID-19, leaving the rest of the squad in quarantine and unable to train together just days before the opening game against Sweden (LIVE Stream: Monday, 3 p.m. ET, on ESPN + in the US). The team couldn't even play their last warm-up match against Lithuania due to the coronavirus precautions, instead being drafted in the U21s and being tested daily in the hopes of avoiding an outbreak, with defender Diego Llorente returning no later than positive result.

Before that, coach Luis Enrique's 24-man roster was enraged across the country as the omission of an unfit Sergio Ramos – coupled with the absence of Real Madrid players – caused outrage in the Madrid press. The coach doesn't seem to have decided on a starting XI either. There are doubts about the goalkeeping situation: Athletic Bilbao's Unai Simon was picked ahead of David de Gea and Brighton's Robert Sanchez against Portugal last Friday but looked nervous in the 0-0 draw.

That game also raises other questions about whether Alvaro Morata is the right man to lead a goal-shy attack, with Villarreal's Gerard Moreno being a tempting alternative. The formally strong Marcos Llorente was pressed into the team as a right-back, an imperfect solution for arguably the best midfielder of the La Liga last season. At least Luis Enrique seems to have opted for Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte – whose Spanish nationality became known in good time before the tournament – as an elegant, ball-playing center-back couple. The midfield is full of talent, with Rodri Hernandez, Pedri, Fabian Ruiz, Koke and Thiago Alcantara all fighting for places, even if Busquets is missing at the end, while Ferran Torres offers goals and tricks across the board.

When it clicks, like in the 6-0 victory in the Nations League over Germany in November, it can be spectacular. Too often, however, Luis Enrique's Spaniards suffered from a known lack of edge. It could be her undoing again this summer. – Alex Kirkland



Gab & Juls warn that Covid could still upset Euro 2020 after Spaniard Sergio Busquets tested positive.

The next Iceland: who will be the euro surprise in 2021?

Nothing brings life to a tournament like a run out of nowhere, and this tournament has its share of Cinderellas. In 2016, little Iceland not only finished second in Group F, but also defeated England in the round of 16. In 2004, Greece beat hosts Portugal, France and then Portugal to win the tournament. In 1992 Denmark beat France, the Netherlands and Germany to win everything.

It's impossible to predict a run like this – if you saw it coming, it wouldn't be a Cinderella run – but this tournament has some particularly fascinating candidates.

– Denmark (betting odds per Caesars: +2800). This tournament basically offers two levels of betting: the favorites (France, England, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands) … and everyone else. The former group has all odds from +450 (equivalent to a 18% chance of winning) to +1200 (8%), the latter is all at +2800 (3%) or lower.

Denmark leads the latter group and it is not difficult to see why. First of all, they can all play their group matches at home in Copenhagen. Group B favorites Belgium have to join them. In addition, the squad is equipped with robust professionals everywhere.

– RB Leipzig's Yussuf Poulsen and Barcelona's Martin Braithwaite in front
– Tottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Inters Christian Eriksen and Borussia Dortmund's Thomas Delaney in midfield
– Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, Milans Simon Kjaer, Southamptons Jannik Vestergaard and Fulhams Joachim Andersen in defense
– Leicester's loyal Kasper Schmeichel in the gate

Belgium may be the favorite in Group B, but a Danish run in the shadow of 1992 is not hard to imagine.

Austria (+8000). If you think Denmark's chances are too good and that a Danish run is too predictable to be a candidate for Next Island, let's dive a little deeper. Apart from the eight betting favorites, here are the squads with the most players in Europe's Big 5 leagues (English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Spanish Primera Division, Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1) in the past season:

1. Austria (21)
2. Switzerland (18)
3. Denmark (17)
4. Wales (14)
5T. Croatia and Turkey (12)

That may not be what you expected at the top of the list. Austria has a huge talent: Bayern's defender David Alaba, RB Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, Hoffenheim's attacking midfielder Christoph Baumgartner, Wolfsburg's midfielder Xaver Schlager etc. Alaba and Sabitzer both had a little more problems in 2020. 21 than the previous season and the overall form of the team was inconsistent. They easily qualified for the European Championship, but were recently overtaken 4-0 by Denmark in the second half of a World Cup qualifier in March.

That makes them an outsider! Among those with great opportunities, no outsider has more pure potential than the Austrians. – Bill Connelly

ITALY: Don't expect the "boring defensive" Azzurri of the past



Nedum Onuoha looks back on Mario Balotelli's performance against Germany to send Italy into the Euro 2012 final.

Forget the old stereotypes. Successful Azzurri teams of yesteryear were known for uncompromising A-list defenders (think Fabio Cannavaro, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi or Gaetano Scirea) and deadly strikers (Paolo Rossi, Roberto Baggio, Pippo Inzaghi or Francesco Totti). Not this team. It's all about midfielders, a category that – with a few notable exceptions – has not been Italy's strong point in past tournaments.

But this is exactly where coach Roberto Mancini can indulge in his strengths. From Inter Nicolo Barella to Marco Verratti from Paris Saint-Germain, Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini from Roma, this team is teeming with two-way players. All in all an old school playmaker like Chelsea's Jorginho, who won the Champions League last month.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop, and others to bring you the latest highlights and discuss the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN + (US only).

Whichever trio will end up – and Italy will almost certainly choose a 4-3-3 formation – will be tasked with implementing Mancini's current vision of football (it has evolved more than most over the years) that is based mainly on possession, passing and pressing. These "three ps" should make the team proactive and not reactive as in the past.

Part of that is the general direction of movement in the modern game: defense and counterattacking may have worked well in the past (and can still work in knockout competitions), but few top teams play this way anymore. This also includes simply playing to your strengths and hiding your weaknesses, which were traditional strengths in Italy in the past.

Sure, you can still find the big names in the back, but Giorgio Chiellini is now 36. Leo Bonucci is 34. The latter was benched during the late season Juves run and it's unlikely we'll see the two of them together. They have a hugely talented goalkeeper who is capable of taking over the baton from Gigi Buffon (and before him Walter Zenga and Dino Zoff) but Gianluigi Donnarumma is still only 22 years old and most importantly, not in the best of spirits. He turned down a contract offer from Milan, the club he'd been a regular since he was 16 and now a free agent, and is betting that the clubs will line up to sign him. They haven't done it yet and Milan have signed their replacement in the meantime.

Up front there are no A-list stars – although Federico Chiesa could get there one day and Nicolo Zaniolo could already be there if an injury hadn't robbed him of the 2020-21 season and a chance at the European Championship – but there is a core by hard working talented players with the ability to get hot and carry the team. All eyes will be on the center forward position, where Mancini will likely choose between Ciro Immobile – a goal machine for Lazio, less on the international stage – and Andrea Belotti, a worker type who has not yet scored a goal, since the beginning of February on open game at club level.

To be successful, Mancini needs one of these two (or perhaps 21-year-old Giacomo Raspadori, the budget Sergio Agüero) to take advantage of the many opportunities Italy has these days. He's going to need Donnarumma to be in the right mood (something he definitely wasn't when his future was last uncertain, in 2017 at the U21 Euro), and he needs the chain of defense to hold, not against Italy's defense of the past will be addressed.

What he probably doesn't have to worry about is his corps of young stars in the middle of the park. – Gave Marcotti

Erase your calendar! The must-see games

From an action perspective, the Euro roadmap is well drawn. You start with a few days of honeymoon vibes and excitement for new tournaments, then you come to the good things. Here are the 10 group stage games that are either the most intriguing or the most significant.

– June 13: Croatia versus England. Per Caesars, England is the favorite to win behind France. Their first game, however, is a no brainer against a Croatian squad that is advancing with age but still has a lot of talent that brought them to the World Cup finals – and to England in the semi-finals – three years ago.

– June 13: Ukraine v Netherlands. We learned a lot about the Dutch against a Ukrainian squad consisting mainly of players from Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk as well as some Premier League players (Man City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, West Ham striker Andriy Yarmolenko). for a good measure.

– June 15: France versus Germany. Group F is the group of chaos, in which both the last two world champions (France and Germany) and the reigning European champions (Portugal) are represented. Germany was the shakiest of the three, but they can all play their games in Munich's Allianz Arena.

– June 16: Switzerland versus Italy. Switzerland is crammed with talent from Europe's elite leagues. If it turns out to be a bumpy road for the Italian favorites, Group A favorites, things could go wrong now.

– June 17th: Belgium versus Denmark. Belgium may be the best team in Group B, but the home team here could be second best. Could the home advantage and strong midfield give the Danes an unexpected advantage?

– June 17th: Austria versus Netherlands. Austria's squad is crammed with talent from the best clubs in Europe. If Ukraine can't reach the Dutch, Alaba, Sabitzer, Baumgartner & Co. could still make it.

– June 18: Scotland v England. English fans know exactly how talented their team is, but the "waiting for the other shoe to fall" paranoia could be very high in this rivalry game against Robertson, Tierney and the neighbors to the north.

– June 19: Portugal versus Germany. If we assume that France will move up from Group F – not a given, but the overall favorite – this may well be the biggest game of the group stage, a play-off between two of the most talented teams in the world.

– June 23: Sweden vs. Poland. Spain drew a seemingly easy draw in Group E, but this game could be yet another knockout for second place, not to mention a flagship match for Poland's Robert Lewandowski and Sweden's up-and-coming stars (Dejan Kulusevski, Alexander Isak) in attack.

– June 23: France vs. Portugal. Few international matches are able to field more pure talent than this one among its 22 competitors. We don't yet know what's at stake – Group F might and might not be through – but this one will please the eye anyway. – Connelly

BELGIUM: Last chance for their golden generation to win something

Your stars will all be playing together this summer, if perhaps for the last time. The Belgian Golden Generation has come close to fame over the past decade but has never won anything. They've been number 1 in the FIFA World Ranking since September 2018 – technically the best team in the world, but they haven't made it in every major competition over the past 10 years.

For Eden Hazard (30 years), Kevin De Bruyne (30), Dries Mertens (34), Toby Alderweireld (32), Jan Vertonghen (34), Axel Witsel (32), Thomas Vermaelen (35) and maybe even Nacer Chadli ( 32 in August), this is the last chance. Of course, some of them will travel to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup; their youngest stars like midfielder Youri Tielemans could even play until the EM 2024 in Germany after the extinction of Romelu Lukaku & Co., but this tournament will be their last hurray as a group. And there is no better way to say goodbye than to finally win it.

Belgium has been number 1 in the world for over three years, but can you finally convert that status into a trophy? Getty Images

Every time the Red Devils are favorites ahead of a major competition, they stumble. At the 2014 World Cup, their first major tournament as a unit, they lost in the quarter-finals to Argentina (1-0). In 2016, at the EM, they were too complacent in the quarter-finals against Wales and suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat after a 0-1 lead. In 2018, they were frustrated by a solid, efficient French team in the World Cup semi-finals before they rallied against England and finished third.

Belgium has clearly become a force in international football. They have improved steadily under Roberto Martinez, who replaced Marc Wilmots as coach in August 2016. They are well organized, with a 3-4-2-1 line-up making the most of their squad, but also calling out so much individual talent. Trouble is, De Bruyne is still recovering from the facial injuries he sustained in the Champions League final that could miss the first game against Russia on Saturday (stream LIVE on ESPN +, June 12, 3 p.m. ET) . Hazard is fighting for form after two years of injury-related nightmare. Witsel has not played since January and will also miss the start of the tournament.

Trotzdem glaubt das belgische Lager, dass dies an der Reihe sein könnte, dass sie endlich ihre Ente brechen könnten. Immerhin sind sie die Nr. 1 der Welt. Mit Romelu Lukaku haben sie nach zwei tollen Saisons bei Inter einen der fünf besten Stürmer der Welt. Thibaut Courtois hat Real Madrid in diesem Jahr zeitweise alleine getragen. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco war 2021 fantastisch für Atletico Madrid, einen Kupplungsbeitrag zum Titelgewinn. Abgesehen vom Champions-League-Finale war De Bruyne wieder großartig, während Tielemans in dieser Saison mit Leicester City sein Spiel auf die nächste Stufe gehoben hat.

Allerdings gibt es einige Schwächen in der Verteidigung. Ist die Dreierkette wirklich am besten für diesen Kader geeignet? Ist die Abwehr ohne einen voll fitten Witsel exponiert? Letztlich könnte der Schlüssel sein, wie viel sie aus früheren Enttäuschungen gelernt haben. Wie würden sie jetzt ein Halbfinale gegen Frankreich angehen? Wie wäre es mit einem Spiel gegen einen Außenseiter? Sicherlich werden all die Erfahrungen, die sie in all den Jahren gesammelt haben, gut, auch wenn die Zeit davonläuft.

Mit Russland, Dänemark und Finnland hat Belgien die perfekte Gruppe, um Schwung aufzubauen, um in der K.-o.-Runde ihren Höhepunkt zu erreichen. Von dort aus hofft die ganze Nation, dass ihr Traum diesmal Wirklichkeit wird. — Laurens

SCHOTTLAND: Voller Begeisterung für erstes Turnier seit 1998

Schottland macht es nie einfach. Nach einer 23-jährigen Lücke zwischen der erfolgreichen Qualifikation für ein internationales Turnier brauchten sie in den Playoffs einen Sieg im Elfmeterschießen gegen Serbien, um sich einen Platz bei der EM zu sichern. Dieser Sieg löste unvergessliche Szenen in der Umkleidekabine aus, als die Spieler unbeholfen zu Baccaras Lied "Yes Sir, I can Boogie" von 1977 tanzten – aber wenn Sie mit denen in der Nähe des schottischen Kaders sprechen, sind sie fest davon überzeugt, dass sie nicht da sind, um die Zahlen zu erfinden . Sie werden für die Euros in Middlesbrough stationiert sein (die Tschechische Republik hat ihre übliche Basis in Edinburgh, und Kroatien ist in St. Andrews), so dass sie sich vom Hype fernhalten, aber zweifellos die öffentliche Erwartung spüren. Mit Spielen gegen Tschechien und Kroatien sowie einer Reise nach Wembley gegen England wird Schottland in der Gruppe D alles werfen.

Das schöne Spiel lebt hier. Schalte erstklassige Berichterstattung über Top-Ligen, Turniere und Teams frei. Melde dich jetzt an, um Fußball auf ESPN+ zu streamen

• Portugal – Israel (14:35 Uhr ET)

• Melbourne C gegen Newcastle (5 Uhr ET)
• Estland – Lettland (11:50 Uhr ET)

• Türkei vs. Italien (14:50 Uhr ET)

Im Team gibt es hochkarätige Talente. Trainer Steve Clarke wird seine Mannschaft wahrscheinlich in einer Formation aufstellen, die es ihnen ermöglicht, zwei ihrer besten Spieler in die Mannschaft zu holen: Kieran Tierney von Arsenal als Innenverteidiger und Kapitän Andrew Robertson auf dem linken Außenverteidiger. Scott McTominay von Manchester United wurde als provisorischer Innenverteidiger eingesetzt, während Billy Gilmour von Chelsea, Ryan Christie von Celtic, John McGinn von Aston Villa und Stuart Armstrong von Southampton das Mittelfeld übernehmen können.

Sie werden einen guten Start brauchen und eine Gruppe von 15 oder 16 Spielern haben, die die Besten in Europa bedrängen können. Was die Dinge zu ihren Gunsten verändern könnte, ist ihr Teamgeist. Don Hutchison won 27 caps for Scotland from 1999 to 2003, and he feels the togetherness is stronger than the Scotland teams of old. "I look at them now and think that's a dressing room I'd love to be part of," Hutchison told ESPN.

Scotland's prep has been disrupted by a COVID-19 outbreak that saw seven players ruled out of their 2-2 draw against the Netherlands, and with Glasgow in lockdown, their opener against the Czech Republic could be played in front of empty stands at Hampden Park. That first game against Jaroslav Silhavy's high-pressing Czech Republic will set the tone. "It's a huge game for us," goalkeeper Craig Gordon told ESPN. "We really have to go in there and get off to the best possible start. It's a tough one, but especially at Hampden, hopefully with some fans in, I think it gives us a chance to get off to a great start." — Hamilton

PREDICTIONS: So who's winning this thing?

Belgium. The window is closing for the Golden Generation, but Euro history is filled with guys who didn't play much or perform during the season, only to excel for four weeks in the summer. I'm counting on you, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel… — Marcotti

Deschamps' squad is head and shoulders above every other nation in the tournament. France have so much quality and depth that it's virtually impossible to see the world champions failing to win this. – Ogden

Engl… I'm only kidding. France, France and France. Deschamps could have fielded two 23-man squads, and they'd end up meeting in the final. The strongest XI has everything, and Benzema now, which will be too tough for any opponent. – Laurens

France. The World Cup winners boast the strongest squad, and teams are able to make five substitutions in each game. Only a relatively tough draw has stopped France being shorter in the betting markets. – Olley

It's France's to lose. When you can sleep easy after losing Aymeric Laporte to Spain, you know they've got incredible strength in depth. If you're after a surprise package, though, keep an eye on Denmark. – Hamilton

France. Generally speaking, it seems pretty smart to bet on whichever team has a healthy Kante in it, especially when you can team him with Pogba and Mbappe. — Connelly

Portugal: They're good from front to back and are stacked with players who are coming off impressive seasons with their clubs. If they can get through their group, they'll fancy their chances against anyone. – Rob Dawson

I think it's going to be a France vs. Turkey final, but whether that's right or not, there will need to be a stewards' enquiry if France don't win this tournament. Blessed with abundant talent, they also demonstrably possess a tough 'winning' mentality. Plus ça change… – Graham Hunter

Runners-up in 2016 and winners in 2018, they already had Griezmann, Mbappe, Pogba and Kante and the rest. Now they've got Benzema, too, which is just cheating. France, of course. – Sid Lowe


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