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PROMO CODE: EUROS25 – 25% off your monthly subscription with the use of that Promo Code and will run for a month. We will have you covered here at RPS, not just for the Euros with Projections, Cores, Playbooks, and Discord Chat, but every sport in the RPS community which we have them all covered!

It’s a bit hard to believe that the draw for the Euros took place 18 months ago, and now we are so close to kickoff one of the greatest tournaments in the world. Much has changed in the last year, let alone the last time this spectacle was played out, when Eder took aim from outside the box and struck it past a diving Lloris to give Portugal the chance to lift the trophy and etch their names in history. This cycle’s European Football Championship will not be held by a single nation, instead a multitude of countries are given the opportunity to host matches this go-around with a whopping 11 cities – each getting to hold three group stage matches in their venues.

Some things to touch up on as most may already know, there will be five substitutes allowed from each team during the course of the tournaments, with a sixth allowed in the event that the match goes to extra time. The top two sides in their groups will move onto the knockout stage with the four best third placed countries getting to move on as well. This will lead to 16 of the 24 representatives moving on to compete after the group stage concludes. Fans will be allowed to attend every game over the course of the next month with most venues likely to host a minimum of 25% of capacity. Budapest being the one city that is aiming to allow 100% capacity for their matches which will be amazing to see after what we have taken apart in the last year.  Enough rambling, let’s get down to business, use this piece however you please. Perhaps you want to learn more about the Euros in general, want to get a good grasp on every nation leading up to the games, or want to tell me when I’m wrong, that is what this is for! Hope you enjoy and I appreciate you reading!

GROUP A

Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Italy

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 1st

Key Players: Lorenzo Insigne, Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile, Gianluigi Donnarumma

How They Got Here & What to Expect: One of the two perfect 30’s across the 10 groups in the European Qualifiers. Italy tacked on 37 goals in their 10 matches and only conceded four times to the opposition. The group wasn’t particularly strong but it was a promising sign to see from the side that had a disappointment as large as the United States when they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the second time in the nation’s history. Their dominance in the qualifiers was a resounding team effort with their leading scorer (Andreas Belotti) netting only four goals. 11 different players contributed multiple goals to the campaign with an astonishing 19 players total making their mark. Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile both coming off incredible seasons themselves for their clubs and have had a great display in their previous matches this year. These two will be Italy’s most effective forms of offensive output and will be held together with the glue that is Verratti. His presence in the midfield will be instrumental in the success of Italy and he comes into the Summer fully healthy which is critical for the Azzurri. This is a deep side who played well on both ends and have put on quite the display over the past couple of years and continuing with great form heading into the tournament. The biggest question for Italy heading into the tournament regarding their results is: Can they do it against top-tier competition? They have put on a masterclass in the last 24 months but the highest ranked team they have faced off against was Netherlands in their Nations League matchup. They have plenty of talent, just will it be enough against the likes of France, Belgium, etc. 

Set Pieces: Federico Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi

Switzerland

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 2nd

Key Players: Xherdan Shaqiri, Manuel Akanji, Haris Seferovic

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Topping Group D in the qualifiers, Switzerland was able to do just enough to fend off Denmark and Ireland from overtaking them in the table. There are legitimate concerns with their goal scoring though as they managed only 9 goals in 6 matches against teams in their group not named Gibraltar. The lack of killer instinct in front of net means that the likes of Mario Gavranovic, Breel Embolo, and Haris Seferovic will have plenty of scrutiny over the course of the tournament as none really made their mark when they had the chance. Seferovic has found some form though for his club in Portugal and will have to be able to convert the chances he does get. The Suisse have endured a brutal schedule since international competition resumed in 2020. During their Nations League matches they faced off against Spain and Germany a total of four times with games against Croatia and Belgium sandwiched between the matchups. The level of competition won’t dip drastically as the group is tough from top to bottom. Look for Switzerland to deploy 5 in the back with fullbacks like Kevin Mbabu and Steven Zuber pushing forward constantly and the team getting the ball into the box often. This will be a fun team to watch as it feels like no matter who they face off against, they always stand a chance and the same can be said for the opponents.

Set Pieces: Ricardo Rodriguez, Xherdan Shaqiri, Steven Zuber

Turkey

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 3rd

Key Players: Hakan Calhanoglu, Buruk Yilmaz, Ozan Kabak

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Pushing France to the absolute brink only to draw against Iceland to fail to capture first place in the group. Turkey put on an impressive display of defensive stability. Conceding only three times across their 10 matches in which this case against France and half-decent competition across the board. Even blanking the World Champs in style with a 2-0 thumping back in the summer of 2019. There is so much to be excited about with Turkey but the biggest part of the side is Hakan Calhanoglu. The Milan #10 has been brilliant not only for club but as well as country. He is the integral part of how this side will expect to create offensive opportunities. Leading the line is Buruk Yilmaz who is the oldest player in the squad but that has not been a detriment to the Ligue 1 Champion. Yilmaz is coming off an absolute peach of a season with 16 goals over the French side’s campaign, and he did it in only 23 starts. Yilmaz carrying this momentum into the tournament will be absolutely massive for Turkey and the 2nd leading Turkish Goalscorer of all time is proving his age is just a number. The country should be excited about the possibility of advancing to the knockout stage as they have the tools to potentially surprise a side that overlooks them.

Set Pieces: Hakan Calhanoglu, Yusuf Yazici, Caner Erkin

Wales

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 4th

Key Players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Neco Williams

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Wales rounds off the group as one of the stronger sides projected to finish last in their group. They have star power, they have defensive formidability, and they have an impressive resume over the past 5 years with their advancement to the Semi-Finals in the 2016 Euros. They also held off two good nations in Slovakia and Hungary to secure their spot in this tournament during qualification. Wales was able to do it off the back of their defense. In their eight games, Wales only surrendered six goals with half the goals being scored by Croatia. Their offense was a bit worrying at times with not much goals being scored in qualification but as well as the past year. They have only scored more than one goal once in their last 11 games. With a full strength squad and a Gareth Bale who has rounded into form, an increase will be expected. Wales matches won’t be the most entertaining, but they will be competitive no matter the competition. 

Set Pieces: Gareth Bale, Harry Wilson, Daniel James

GROUP B

Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Belgium

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 1st

Key Players: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazrd, Toby Alderweield

How They Got Here & What to Expect: The only other perfect record in the qualifiers, Belgium looked every part of the FIFA World Number One side. Led by Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. The dynamic pairing combined a hand in 20 goal contributions with 11 goals and nine assists between them. Eden Hazard also played a very good role but this year has been one of the toughest of the Madridsta’s career. An oft-injured campaign, Hazard failed to contribute for Real Madrid with only seven starts in the league. Near the end of the season, Hazard was able to appear in five matches in the month of May and if he comes in able to be himself, there is every reason to believe their attack has enough capability of lifting the trophy. Lukaku has been clinical for Inter and is one of the best strikers in the world without a doubt, just will he get the sublime service from Kevin De Bruyne after his Champions League clash with Antonio Rudiger led to facial injuries that will leave him out beyond the first group stage match. There will be many question marks surrounding the golden generation as they have been so dominant but are coming into Euros with a few more questions than answers at the moment.  Set Pieces: Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco

Denmark

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 2nd

Key Players: Christian Eriksen, Youssef Poulsen, Andreas Christensen, Kasper Schmeichel

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Getting through qualifiers without losing a game is an accomplishment. They did however draw four times which shows that by no means were the Danes breezing through the group. Star-man Christian Eriksen continues to show out for country and will be the most crucial player for his side as usual as he led the team in goals and assists in qualifying and has been in great form whenever he steps onto the pitch for Denmark. He has a great striking rotation ahead of him with the likes of Kasper Dolberg, Youssef Poulsen, and Martin Braithwaite up front providing the attacking punch that they need. The group isn’t that strong outside Belgium so Denmark should have a very good shot at advancing. Their defense is very stout of late with eight clean sheets in the last 10 matches and have silverware from their backbone of their side boasting a pair of major trophies with the FA Cup (Schmeichel) in hand as well as the UCL Final (Christensen). All-in-all Denmark with the benefit of a weak group and a strong set of players from top to bottom should lead to success and will be interesting to keep an eye on.

Set Pieces: Christian Eriksen

Finland

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 4th

Key Players: Glen Kamara, Teemu Pukki, Robin Lod

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Surprising many, Finland managed to top the table in a particularly tough group in qualifiers. Finishing only behind Italy in the group against the likes of Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Armenia. Finland managed to notch six wins, with 10 of their 16 goals being scored by Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki. Tying for fourth most goals in qualifiers and leading Finland to their first major tournament ever. He’s not their only stud though as Robin Lod and Glen Kamara both played key parts as each played every minute possible during qualifiers and are staples in their club’s sides. The Fins come into the summer with their worst form in years. They have managed to not win a match in six tries and have been leaking goals with 12 goals conceded in those six matches. Finland may have the second worst odds to win the tournament, but the nations that take them on will not have it easy, just will they be able to pull off some magic?

Set Pieces: Robin Lod, Onni Valakari

Russia

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 3rd

Key Players: Artem Dzyuba, Aleksandr Golovin, Andrey Semenov

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Russia breezed through an easy group with eight wins in 10 matches during qualifying. The only team to defeat them was Belgium who blasted seven goals against them in their two matches against each other. Now they’re still in the same group. Russia was able to demolish smaller nations like San Marino, Cyprus, and Kazakhstan. Dzyuba turned back the clock this season and arguably comes in as one of the top forwards of the tournament. He put 20 goals past the keeper in league play this season and has provided amazing hold up play and creating chances for others with several assists for club and country showing his versatility. He is oft supplied by Monaco star Aleksandr Golovin who has been instrumental to Russia’s success. Golovin has provided Russia with enough control and creativity to be a force and shows a great talent from set pieces as well. Who can forget his free-kick goal to cap off Russia’s win against Saudi Arabia in the World Cup. This Russian side has plenty of pieces to find success. Much has changed since their World Cup run, but they managed too take eventual finalists Croatia to the brink only losing on penalties. They get the benefit of playing a pair of games in their home country with a massive amount of fans to push them on. It’s a bit easy to be bullish on this side, but they haven’t shown much against top competition to show they’ll go deep.

Set Pieces: Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksei Miranchuk

GROUP C

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Austria

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 2nd

Key Players: David Alaba, Marcel Sabitzer, Martin Hinteregger, Marko Arnatuovic

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Finishing just behind Poland in their group, Austria faced no pressure trying to make the tournament. They went on an impressive run after dropping their first two matches of qualifiers and ended up finishing with 19 points which was five points ahead of North Macedonia who coincidentally are also in this group as will be touched on later. Austria are coming into the Euros with a side full of Bundesliga talent from top to bottom. Star-man David Alaba has donned Bayern Munich colors for the last time as he makes his switch to Real Madrid this offseason and will be looking to provide excellent play in their midfield where he sets up as a key playmaker for the side which shows the flexibility of the future Madrista as most people familiar with the game know he is one of the most versatile players in the world. Austria will hope that Marcel Sabitzer will continue the strong play he has shown over the past pair of seasons and was effective at times in qualifiers. He will need to be reliable to contribute to the offense as Austria has sometimes struggled in the final third. Marko Arnautovic is a bit hampered but has a chance of playing a role as the key man up top where he has been influential in that past. Arnautovic was clinical in qualifiers but may have Sasa Kalajdzic seeing the playing time ahead of him as the former West Ham striker has lost a step. Austria is full of talent but are an inconsistent side. They will provide entertaining matches though and are an easy team to root for.

Set Pieces: David Alaba, Christoph Baumgartner, Marcel Sabitzer

Netherlands

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 1st

Key Players: Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs De Ligt

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Arguably one of the most fun teams competition in Eruos this year. Netherlands has been a pedal to the metal style of play that is easy on the eye. They have competed against Germany several times in 2019 and over the course of their four games the Dutch scored 11 goals. Due to their Nations League status they have also competed against high level competition every international break for the most part and are as battle tested as they come. Ronald Koeman was the former boss during qualifiers and really saw the likes of Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, and those flanking them absolutely thrive with their style of football. The managerial change hasn’t failed to develop headaches though as former Dutch legend Frank De Boer took over in September and saw the rambunctious score-lines put to a halt. The pattern of changing a team for the worse is not new to De Boer, but they seem to have straightened the ship with multiple goals scored in 7 straight games heading into the tournament. No one is grateful for the pandemic, but at least we will get to see Memphis Depay fully healthy. The Lyon winger tore his ACL and was set to miss and ruin Netherland’s dreams of making it far in the tournament. This year though they come in with their young talent getting an extra year to develop and get used to working under De Boer and allow them a chance at strong success. They will be by far one of the most amazing teams to watch and will hopefully continue their goal scoring form all the way through the Euros.

Set Pieces: Memphis Depay, Steven Berghuis

North Macedonia

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 4th

Key Players: Eljif Elmas, Venus Bardhi, Ezgjan Alioski

How They Got Here & What to Expect: North Macedonia were able to achieve qualification through the new UEFA Nations League that was debuted in 2018 to start to have nations playing more competitive games in between major tournaments. North Macedonia despite finishing third in their Euro Qualifiers Group got a 2nd chance to qualify due to their placement in the Nations League where they were able to get past Kosovo and Georgia to stamp their ticket to their first major tournament in nation history. Though they have the worst odds in the tournament to lift the trophy, they are no slouch. They just defeated Germany in March and are rolling into their first game with confidence. Eljif Elmas is one of the side’s most creative players and he is only 21. Making 33 appearances in league play this season for Napoli mostly as a sub, Elmas has been able to have a more impactful role for his country where he was leading goal scorer in qualifiers as well as their ongoing World Cup Qualification as well. He will be crucial to their success. Right beside him in the midfield is Enis Bardhi who has been a crucial player for Levante in La Liga and also thrived in his role for his nation as well. Their midfield is passable and also have the creativity to be effective. They will have Ezgjan Alioski flanking down the left to provide width as well to send plenty of crosses into the box. This side will have their hands full but won’t be a team to hit snooze on.

Set Pieces: Enis Bardhi, Ezgjan Alioski

Ukraine

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 3rd

Key Players: Andrly Yarmolenko, Rusian Malinovskyi, Viktor Tsygankov, Oleksandr Zinchenko

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Topping their group and holding off Portugal to win Group B was a major confidence boost for Ukraine’s national team. They did it off the backs of their defense as well conceding only four times in their eight matches. Ukraine has a wide array of talent with the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko playing a midfield role for his country and proving to be a creative player when called upon. They will also be mostly healthy as well with Andrly Yarmolenko looking to be fully fit after a few seasons of injuries have held the talented West Ham winger to sit out loads of games, with him healthy Ukraine have a quality set of wingers that will give fits to any defender. Rusian Malinovskyi has been critical for Ukraine’s performances in controlling the ball in the midfield area and also provided some moments of brilliance in qualifiers which Ukraine will need. There is some worry though as before their win in the friendly against Northern Ireland, Ukraine managed to only notch one win in their previous 10 matches. The win against Northern Ireland surely helped and provided a sense of relief but their form has been a bit poor, mostly due to playing top level competition like Germany, Spain, and France, but it’s never good for a team to be in such poor form leading up to a massive set of games. There will be much to look forward to when watching Ukraine play, and the likes of Yarmolenko even turning back the clock a little bit will be reason enough to watch.

Set Pieces: Viktor Tsygankov, Marlos, Rusian Malinovskyi

GROUP D

Mandatory Credit: PA Images/Sipa USA via USA TODAY Sports

Croatia

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 2nd

Key Players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Vlasic

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Croatia managed a tough group in qualifiers to finish top of the table and ease their way here. The World Cup Runner-Ups will have their first tournament since their magical run just under three years ago. They have not had it very easy with tough matches around every corner. Their defense has been the biggest sufferer as they conceded 20 goals in their eight matches in 2020. The leakiness in the back has to be a concern for them as the attacking line boasts of top-tier talent with Andrej Kramaric off a career season with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga where he was able to find the back of the net 20 times in league play. With Nikola Vlasic and Ivan Perisic also likely to provide an attacking punch, it will be much about if Croatia can defend against top nations. Their first test will also be one of the toughest where we get a World Cup Semi-Final rematch against England to kick things off on June 13th. This will put both sides on high-alert early and expecting firecrackers in that one. This could be the penultimate tournament for Luka Modric as the Madridsta is now 35 years of age and nearing the end of his career. He has still been an absolute machine though and showcases his importance in keeping possession for Croatia every-time he plays and provides good service off set pieces as well. The magic of 2018 will be tough to capture, but Croatia certainly has the attacking talent to make another major run.

Set Pieces: Luka Modric

Czech Republic

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 3rd

Key Players: Vladimir Darida, Tomas Soucek, Patrick Schick

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Finishing 2nd to England in their qualifiers, Czech Republic did a solid joob getting through without much stress. They weren’t overly impressive or under whelming as they were mostly inconsistent. They lost bad to England only to defeat them in the return fixture with a loss to Kosovo and Bulgaria in the same span of a couple months shows that this side has a little of Jekyll and Hyde in them. They matched Belgium step for step in March with an impressive draw where they outshot Belgium and held them mostly silent the entire game, but have these performances like they did against Italy in their most recent friendly where they don’t look very competitive at all. They have a formidable attack with Patrick Schick leading the line and displaying his finishing ability in recent caps. Tomas Soucek has stepped up for not just his club, but as well as country. Soucek has carried over his stunning goal contributions that makes him very versatile and provides a unique way for Czech Republic to make their mark. The other star in the midfield with Soucek is Vladimir Darida. The Hertha Berlin midfielder has played very well and does a good job keeping possession for Czech Republic to find their footing in the attack. They will all need to be clicking if they want to get results against top-tier teams like Croatia and England though.

Set Pieces: Vladimir Darida, Jakub Jankto

England

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 1st

Key Players: Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Declan Rice, Harry Maguire

How They Got Here & What to Expect: “It’s coming home” is a saying that we can be accustomed to over the next month. The talent is there for England to bring home their first European Championship and this will be one of the best chances to carry the momentum of a successful few years and put some silverware in the cabinet. Only dropping three points over the course of qualifying, it was simple for England to advance through and they have started World Cup Qualifiers on the right foot as well. They have such a great plethora of attacking talent and with Declan Rice ready to nail down the ‘6’ role for England, this team has a foundation not only for the present, but the future as well. Much was made about which fullbacks Gareth Southgate would take into the tournament, but Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury looks to have saved him a headache as he was a hot topic coming into the summer about whether Alexander-Arnold would be in the squad. Harry Kane has really just shined every year and is able to provide flexibility to the attack not just by being an astounding finisher but as well as dropping back to create for others. Phil Foden is one of those players who has waited his turn at Manchester City and is now a certified star for club and country. He gives something England didn’t really have all too much of during the World Cup, a player who can create something out of absolutely nothing. There is good reason to get excited by this England squad. They won’t have to rely on set pieces as much as they did in 2018 as they have plenty of open play ability as well, but it doesn’t hurt to have a fantastic pairing of Stones and Maguire who are booth prominent in the box to cause havoc. England is well balanced from top-to-bottom and while they have high expectations, they have good reason to be so excited.

Set Pieces: Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Kieran Trippier

Scotland

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 4th

Key Players: Andrew Robertson, Scott McTominay, Stuart Armstrong

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Getting through the same way North Macedonia did, due to a strong performance during their Nations League matches that allowed them a chance to compete for a chance at Euros, where they made the most of their opportunity against the likes of Israel and Serbia in which both competitions went to penalties and eventually saw Scotland snagging the win and moving on to this prestigious event themselves. They held a negative goal differential in qualifiers, but they did hold their own against the weaker nations. They were battered by the likes of Russia and Belgium though and truly showcase that they’re a mostly an average squad littered with a few top end talents like Andrew Robertson who flanks down the left for Scotland and provides width to get the ball into the box. Kieran Tierney on the other flank as well in which they’re targeting the likes of Che Adams or Lyndon Dykes. They have a fairly strong midfield led by Scott McTominay who has been a key atple into the Scotland lineup for the last couple of years. Stuart Armstrong and guys like James Forrest and Ryan Christie are all capable of creating moments to ignite the attack, the biggest thing though is going to be their defense. They have solid fullbacks, however the center back pairing has been a bit fluid at times and even seen Tierney and McTominay play alongside each other in a back three at times which shows that the defense is not quite there and could be exposed to some large scorelines if they’re not careful.

Set Pieces: Andrew Robertson, Ryan Christie, Ryan Fraser

GROUP E

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Poland

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 2nd

Key Players: Robert Lewandowski, Pitor Zieliński, Grzegorz Krychowiak

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Was a very competitive group in their qualifiers with five of the six teams notching double digit points. Poland wasn’t prolific offensively though even with the world’s best striker on their side. They scored 18 goals with Robert Lewandowoski tacking on six of those himself. Their defense though was stout. Conceding only five goals in their 10 matches and having seven clean sheets to their tally. Their performances in the Nations League has recently seen them playing very tough competition like Italy and Netherlands which has played a part in their poor record in recent matches. They are no slouch though to any degree. Led by Lewandowski their attack will always cause stress to defenses in the hopes of containing him. The midfield with players like Krychowiak who has been an important piece of the Polish National team for years now does a great job at getting the ball forward and helping attack. Piotr Zieliński now at 27 in the midst of his prime putting together an amazing season with Napoli will also be expected to help carry the load for Poland. They have star quality but the questions arise with the other players. Is there enough quality to make some noise and progress to the quarterfinals? The group is not very stocked with amazing teams outside of a potentially covid ridden Spain side. So their odds of making it through to the knockout stage will be good. On the back of the one and only Robert Lewandowski, anything is possible and Pooland should not be discounted.

Set Pieces: Piotr Zielinski, Kamil Jozwiak

Slovakia

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 3rd

Key Players: Marek Hamsik, Juraj Kucka, Robert Mak, Martin Dubravka

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Finishing third in a brutally tough qualifying group, Slovakia was able to sneak in due to their Nations League performances giving them the chance to qualify as one of the last 4 teams in. They were able to get through both Ireland and Northern Ireland to stamp their ticket to the tournament and represent their country. Slovakia is a squad full of aging players that still have just enough left in the tank to provide trouble for the opposition. 33 year old Marek Hamsik who has been one of the best players in the nation’s history will be coming into the tournament not at 100%. He is dealing with a calf injury and could be hindered during the tournament which would be a tough blow for the Slovakian midfield as he is very important to the side. Juraj Kucka who is 34 years old also led the team in scoring during qualifiers and has been a key cog of the side as well. They have plenty of talent to make noise in this group and will be able to compete with the good sides on a good day. Their inconsistency of late with only one win in their last six matches is a little bit troubling and you wonder if they can actually push through to the knockout stages as you’d think three points will be needed to see them through and they just haven’t been able to rack up results even against weaker sides, and Sweden and Poland are no joke compared to Malta, Cyprus, and Bulgaria that Slovakia just drew to recently. With plenty of question marks regarding age and form, this side will be an interesting one to keep tabs on during Euros.

Set Pieces: Robert Mak, Ondrej Duda, Marek Hamsik

Spain

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 1st

Key Players: Ferran Torres, Alvaro Morata, Thiago, Pedri

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Spain went through qualifiers in ho-hum fashion. They did not lose a match and had 31 goals to their name. They are a strong team in every area with a couple question marks at the goalkeeping position as well as the ferocity in the attack. Even against lesser competition Spain sometimes underwhelms in front of goal and look a bit lost which would spell disaster if it happened in the knockout stage. The biggest debate is in goal with Unai Simon currently handling the duties as the first choice keeper ahead of David De Gea and has had nervy moments with the ball at his feet and will be something to monitor. In their recent matches Spain put on an absolute dominant display on all fronts against Germany with a 6-0 thrashing. It says plenty about Spain that on their best day can outshine even the most talented teams. The crafty winger Ferran Torres actually gives Spain a different dynamic that they haven’t had in a few years and despite Torres’s young age he is already one of their best players and can make something out of nothing which Spain so desperately needs at times. A starlet to watch is Pedi and the role he will play, at 18 he played a significant role with Barcelona and has caught the attention of the national media as the next potential great for Barcelona and Spain. Spain has all the tools to make a deep run, just the biggest thing is if they can get out of the goalscoring droughts to do so.

Set Pieces: Pablo Sarabia, Ferran Torres, Thiago, Fabian Ruiz

Sweden

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 4th

Key Players: Emil Forsberg, Marcus Berg, Alexander Isak

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Sweden post-Zlatan has had some success even with a brief reappearance this past year. In 2018 they managed to make it to the knockout stage and won their group, then followed it up with 21 points in their 10 qualifying matches with 23 goals and nine goals conceded. They enter the tournament now in very impressive form with five wins in their last six matches and are doing it off the backs of an organized style of play. Emil Forsberg is the main playmaker of the group and the RB Leipzig midfielder plays a crucial role in the attack and making things click for Sweden. The group is solid, but beatable for any of these sides so we can expect a good amount of action each game. The strikeforce of Marcus Berg and potentially Alexander Isak will provide a nice attacking pairing for the Swedes to score a few goals, Berg has been effective for the national team more than his club and put a goal away in their most recent friendly which is a good sign for Sweden if they wish to compete. 

Set Pieces: Emil Forsberg, Seb Larsson,Ludwig Augustinsson

GROUP F

Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

France

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 1st

Key Players: Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema

How They Got Here & What to Expect: France is undoubtedly one of the most talented teams that we will see. Fresh off their World Cup win in 2018, they enter the Euros without losing much momentum in the process. Breezing through their group only dropping five points out of the 30, they also get the addition of the great Karim Benzema to their striking force after a long hiatus without the Madridsta. Antoine Griezmann started to get into a groove with Barcelona and always represents France well as one of the main creators and providing quality set pieces in his own right, he just looks like he really enjoys the game for his country. We can never forget the great Kylian Mbappe who is one of the best players in the world and entering Euros fully healthy. He has added so much more to his game in the past two seasons as well where he has a wide set of skills and would arguably be the most expensive player in the world if he was sold on a transfer, Mbappe entering in good form is awesome to see and will be a contender for the golden boot. Paul Pogba really is amazing to watch and he is so underestimated on Manchester United, his presence alone is a massive boost for any side he is on and will be critical for the midfield success of France as well. It will be amazing to watch and along with England, France are the odds on favorites to win Euros.

Set Pieces: Antoine Griezmann, Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappe

Germany

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds):

Key Players: Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Germany struggling a little bit entering the tournament and with the form in question will be something to keep an eye on. Joachim Low will be ending his long managerial tenure with the National Team and the Germans will want to send him out on a good note. The last couple major tournaments have been major disappointments despite the high quality of talent in this side. Just a few months ago we saw Germany ended up losing to North Macedonia and also losing 6-0 to Spain proving to be an embarrassment and really raise doubts on the possibility of a deep run. Germany will provide some of the most entertaining matches during the course of the tournament. They have high quality attacking players with a defense that can be considered questionable at best. Joshua Kimmich has bounced around from midfield to outside back on a couple of occasions while Joachim Low tries to figure out how to best line-up Germany. Toni Kroos had a slight Covid scare the past couple weeks but will be fully fit to take on this group which is the toughest by far for any team to get through. Thomas Muller has been a sensational playmaker for Bayern Munich and has provided 39 assists in the last two seasons. Recently playing as the center forward and shifting Timo Werner to the bench is possibly something that we see. This team will be interesting and give us the most storylines to keep tabs on as despite their reputation have had an underwhelming last six years.

Set Pieces: Toni Kroos, Joshhua Kimmich

Hungary

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 4th

Key Players: Adam Szalai, Adam Nagy, Roland Sallai, Peter Gulasci

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Finishing 4th in their qualifying group, Hungary was able to progress though in the playoffs due to their performances in the Nations League giving them a chance in the playoffs where they then progressed against Bulgaria and Iceland. This side is not bad from the top to bottom, but you just look at the group they are in and grimace. Portugal the 2016 European Champions, Germany the 2014 World Cup Champions, and France the 2018 World Cup Champions. It is a tall task to say the least. They come in with great form though not losing any of their last 10 matches and have put on stellar displays in the World Cup Qualifiers where they currently sit 2nd in the group and the strong start could propel them onto the biggest stage. Adam Szali and Roland Sallai both putting in strong performances in qualifiers and contributing to the goal tally. Their defense has been more than serviceable and they should be able to really put together a few good chances and you wonder if that will be enough to nab some points against top tier competition.

Set Pieces: Laszlo Kleinhheisler, Tamas Cseri

Portugal

Projected Group Finish (Betting Odds): 3rd

Key Players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Ruben Dias

How They Got Here & What to Expect: Portugal ended up finishing 2nd in their qualifying group and despite the loads of talent they have incurred since their amazing Euros 2016 win where they won one game in regulation. Cristiano Ronaldo is still leading this team despite losing a bit of his greatness, he is still one of the legends of the game and will be critical to see how teams treat him. They have a younger attacking crew surrounding Ronaldo with guys like Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, and Bruno Fernandes making up most of the work on the offensive end and giving Portugal the spark they need to truly make their mark. Their defense was crucial to their success last Euros but they are getting older and older, which is a great concern for them as Pepe and Jose Fonte combine for 75 years of age and will likely have at least one of them alongside Ruben Dias. Their fullbacks will push forward often and provide width into the attack, but expect Portugal to look to play on the counter in their matches, especially with France and Germany likely to control the ball for the majority of their games. This will make Portugal sit back and try and release the front three into space to make their mark. The magic of 2016 will be hard to repeat, but with the talent they have, they are more than capable of a repeat, the first step though is getting out of the group of death.

Set Pieces: Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Renato Sanches

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