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Euro 2020 preview: Everything you need to know about each group


With Euro 2020 just days away, we're taking a deep dive into all six groups, highlighting the star players to watch, examining the biggest storylines to follow, and offering up some predictions for how things may play out. Here's everything you need to know about every group at the tournament.

Group A 🇮🇹 🇨🇭 🇹🇷 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Arguably the competition's most balanced group, Italy headlines a quartet featuring four teams that will each have sights on the knockout stages. The Azzurri, who could benefit from playing all of their group games in Rome, have been fluid and exciting under Roberto Mancini, and they come into the event unbeaten in 27 matches.

Turkey, which has been slapped with the dark-horse label, can spoil Italy's party in the tournament's opening contest, while Switzerland and Wales both boast high-end talent capable of winning matches.

Players to watch 🌟

Federico Chiesa: After taking his game to the next level during a stellar debut season with Juventus, the blistering winger will be crucial in driving an attack-minded, exuberant Italy forward this summer.

Xherdan Shaqiri: Granit Xhaka will be vital, too, but for Switzerland to really thrive, Shaqiri needs to shine in a likely No. 10 role. It's a lot to ask of someone who started only five league matches this past season, though.

Burak Yilmaz: Fresh off leading Lille to a stunning Ligue 1 title, veteran striker Yilmaz will now look to carry that momentum over to his national team. The 35-year-old scored 16 league goals this past season.

Gareth Bale: Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order? The Welsh better hope so. There's some excitement for the next generation of talent, but the 31-year-old is still the guy. If Bale doesn't dominate, Robert Page's team will struggle.

Key questions 🔑

Italy: Will the defense hold up? It's an unusual question to have about Italy, of all teams, but an elderly backline is the biggest concern this time around.

Switzerland: Can the Swiss let loose? Vladimir Petkovic's team has been solid but unspectacular for some time. The philosophy may need a rethink.

Turkey: Does defense really win championships? Turkey's strength comes from a solid collection of defenders, and that unit will need to keep shining.

Wales: What does Bale have left in the tank? The veteran put up solid numbers in limited action for Tottenham, and he needs to deliver for his country.

Group B 🇧🇪 🇩🇰 🇫🇮 🇷🇺

Belgium's golden generation is facing its moment of truth. With star players Romelu Lukaku (28), Kevin De Bruyne (29), Eden Hazard (30), and Dries Mertens (34) well into the prime of their careers, anything less than a run to the final would be considered a disappointment.

But the Red Devils shouldn't take the opposition lightly. Denmark has one of its best rosters since winning Euro 1992, and Russia remains a threat with home-field advantage throughout the group stage. Who knows, even tournament rookie Finland could cause an upset along the way.

Players to watch 🌟

Romelu Lukaku: The 28-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, having made 35 goal contributions on the way to winning the Serie A title with Inter Milan. Belgium needs the same production from its target man.

Christian Eriksen: The playmaker is the brains of Denmark's operation. A threat on set pieces and in open play, the midfielder can singlehandedly decide matches. Denmark's lackluster front line depends on Eriksen's wizardry for chances.

Teemu Pukki: The 31-year-old scored 10 goals in Euro qualifying - only behind Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Eran Zahavi - and he did it with an average squad around him.

Aleksandr Golovin: The Russian dynamo inspired his country at the 2018 World Cup, kicking things off with a goal and two assists in an opening-day thrashing of Saudi Arabia.

Key questions 🔑

Belgium: Will the Red Devils overcome all their injuries? Hazard, De Bruyne, and Axel Witsel are limping into the tournament with various ailments.

Denmark: Can the Danes make a deep run? With a solid backline and a rugged midfield, Kasper Hjulmand's side could reach the knockout stage for the first time since 2004.

Finland: Will Finland record a point in its first major tournament? Despite qualifying, the Scandinavians enter Euro 2020 without a win in their last six outings.

Russia: Will the Russians gain an edge at home? The national team made the quarterfinals as the host of the 2018 World Cup, and it could again get an early boost with its first three games set in St. Petersburg.

Group C 🇦🇹 🇳🇱 🇲🇰 🇺🇦

The Netherlands should consider itself the favorite to win Group C. Memphis Depay has recovered from a serious knee injury, he's in the form of his life, and he has a strong supporting cast in Georginio Wijnaldum, Frenkie De Jong, and young gun Donyell Malen. The Dutch have more than enough swagger to recapture the public's imagination after missing out on the last two tournaments.

But defensively stout Ukraine and sneaky-talented Austria also have the potential to take points off them. Andriy Shevchenko's men secured a respectable draw against France in Euro qualifying, and the Austrians can always bank on the shapeshifting David Alaba, as well as powerhouse midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, for moments of genius. Even North Macedonia is capable of an upset, having toppled Germany in March.

Players to watch 🌟

David Alaba: The 28-year-old is one of Europe's most versatile players. Though he usually plays somewhere along the backline, Alaba moonlights as an attacking midfielder for his country.

Memphis Depay: A player with street skills and a knack for the spectacular, Depay is the Netherlands' primary scoring threat. The 27-year-old bounced back from a serious knee injury to score 20 goals for Lyon in the 2020-21 Ligue 1 season.

Goran Pandev: At 37 years of age, Pandev is one of football's elder statesmen, a veteran of Italy's Serie A, and a celebrated icon in his native North Macedonia. He's spent 20 years with the national team, and his participation in Euro 2020 is the peak of his enduring career.

Ruslan Malinovskyi: The Ukrainian midfielder has arguably the hardest shot in the tournament. He can strike the ball with either foot, making him as unpredictable as he is lethal in possession. Malinovskyi is also excellent in dead-ball situations.

Key questions 🔑

Austria: Will Austria make the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time since 1982? It's possible in this year's Euros, which offers berths to the four best third-place finishers.

Netherlands: Can Frank de Boer restore his reputation? The 51-year-old failed in stints at Inter Milan, Crystal Palace, and Atlanta United before accepting the international job.

North Macedonia: Is there any hope for FIFA's 62nd-ranked side? Most of its players ply their trade outside of the top five leagues, and it has no previous experience at a big tournament.

Ukraine: Will Shevchenko add to his legendary status in Ukraine? The country's record scorer has rejuvenated its football program during his five years as manager.

Group D 🇭🇷 🇨🇿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

This quartet's opening match - England versus Croatia at Wembley Stadium - should be a good indicator of how Group D will shape up. Croatia triumphed when the two teams met in the 2018 World Cup semifinals, but it's still reliant on an old guard headlined by Luka Modric. England, meanwhile, is a bold pick to win the whole tournament.

Scotland's first match against the Czech Republic could be similarly decisive, as the teams will likely battle it out to become one of the best third-placed finishers. The Scots are poised for their first major tournament appearance since 1998, while the Czechs hope their strong Slavia Prague presence will lead them into the knockout rounds.

Players to watch 🌟

Luka Modric: The 2018 Ballon d'Or winner turns 36 in September, so this could be his final competition for his country. Expect the usual blend of artistry and industry from the most successful player in Croatia's history.

Tomas Soucek: The popular, lanky midfielder was a crucial cog in West Ham United's impressive 2020-21 campaign. The Czechs will look to take advantage of Soucek's aerial presence in their bid to emerge from the group.

Harry Kane: There are plenty of game-changers in the England squad, but none are more important than its captain. Kane enters the Euros after logging both the most goals and assists in the Premier League this past season.

Andy Robertson: Scotland is overstocked at left-back, but Robertson is arguably one of the world's best in his position. He never looks out of breath as he hares up and down the flank, and his delivery from out wide can unlock the most stubborn defenses.

Key questions 🔑

Croatia: How much is left in the tank? Dejan Lovren, Modric, Ivan Perisic, and Domagoj Vida are still key presences in the squad despite being in their 30s.

Czech Republic: How good are the young players? Adam Hlozek and David Zima are already drawing interest from Europe's top leagues, and they could double their price tags with strong performances.

England: Will Gareth Southgate unleash his attack? The manager regularly selects a back-three and two holding midfielders, but he must be tempted to put more emphasis on attack given his riches in that department.

Scotland: There are plenty of players willing to do the dirty work in this squad, but what about creativity? Steve Clarke may need to thrust 19-year-old playmaker Billy Gilmour into the spotlight if his team struggles to carve out chances.

Group E 🇵🇱 🇸🇰 🇪🇸 🇸🇪

Luis Enrique caused controversy by failing to name a single Real Madrid player in his squad - including defender Sergio Ramos, Spain's record appearance holder with 180 caps. Instead, there's a youthful look to the Iberian nation, with the likes of Dani Olmo, Pedri, and Ferran Torres all possessing the quality to propel themselves to superstardom.

Slovakia is the rank outsider to advance to the knockout rounds, so Sweden and Poland (positioned 18th and 21st in FIFA's rankings, respectively) are expected to squabble over a runner-up spot. Poland boasts the best striker on the planet in Robert Lewandowski, while Sweden's attackers will need to step up in the absence of injured showman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Players to watch 🌟

Robert Lewandowski: Who else? The Bayern Munich star recently collected the European Golden Shoe after breaking the all-time record for most goals in a single Bundesliga season with 41 strikes.

Martin Dubravka: With many writing off Slovakia's chances of getting out of Group E, there will be a lot of pressure on Dubravka to be in peak form between the sticks.

Gerard Moreno: The Villarreal frontman scored or assisted a combined 40 goals across La Liga and Europa League play last season, and he's undoubtedly the most intelligent attacker in Enrique's squad.

Emil Forsberg: The excitement around the RB Leipzig star has died away in recent years, but Forsberg enters Sweden's campaign after a much-improved Bundesliga season.

Key questions 🔑

Poland: Was sacking Jerzy Brzeczek a good idea? Brzeczek was dismissed despite overseeing the side's Euro qualification. His replacement, Paulo Sousa, has been underwhelming so far.

Slovakia: Is Marek Hamsik fit enough? Despite the promising crop of young Slovakian midfielders coming through, the national team is still built around the mohawked veteran. Hamsik, 33, has dealt with injuries in 2021.

Spain: Should Ramos be in the squad? Pau Torres is a calming presence in the backline, but he and his potential central defensive partners - Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, or Diego Llorente - only have 25 Spain caps between them.

Sweden: Can Sebastian Larsson roll back the years? Larsson left England in 2018, but the 36-year-old midfielder hasn't lost his doggedness and is still a serious threat when standing over a dead ball.

Group F 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 🇭🇺 🇵🇹

The proverbial Group of Death. There's always one, and this time around it's perhaps the most vaunted in recent tournament history. The defending World Cup champion, the reigning Euro titleholder, and a decorated perennial contender. Spare a thought for Hungary, which did extremely well to reach Euro 2020, but will need a minor miracle to see the knockout stages.

France, the tournament favorite, will battle with Portugal and Germany for Group F supremacy. Don't take your eyes off this quartet.

Players to watch 🌟

Kylian Mbappe: You could pick anyone from France's starting XI - and several players from its bench - to highlight here. However, you can't go wrong with Mbappe, who, at 22, is already in the conversation as the world's best player.

Timo Werner: Germany, unsurprisingly, is well-balanced across the pitch, but it lacks a prototypical No. 9 to lead the attack. Werner, after a horribly unlucky debut season at Chelsea, needs to revert to his RB Leipzig scoring form.

Willi Orban: In a group so loaded with attacking superstars, Orban is going to have a lot of work to do. The RB Leipzig center-back, along with defensive peer Attila Szalai, will be busy over the next couple of weeks.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Now 36, there's a very real argument to be made that Portugal shouldn't still be built around Ronaldo. That said, he is coming off a prolific season with Juventus, and he'll be flanked by some serious talent with the Selecao as he chases down Ali Daei's scoring record.

Key questions 🔑

France: How will Karim Benzema fit in? Adding the Real Madrid striker to this squad is unfair, but is there such a thing as too much star power? (No, there isn't.)

Germany: Win one for the Gipper? Joachim Low will (finally) relinquish coaching duties after the tournament. Perhaps he can bow out in style.

Hungary: How badly will Dominik Szoboszlai be missed? The star midfielder was one of the team's lone creative sparks. His injury-induced absence looms large.

Portugal: Is a defense-first approach the best fit? Fernando Santos' conservative style seems at odds with the attacking talent at his disposal.

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