How the Euro 2020 favourites could line up by next summer
Euro 2020 has been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is a drastic but necessary step to ensure that the tournament can proceed safely and be enjoyed by all. It has also had the side-effect of drastically changing the potential outlook for the tournament itself, given that now an extra year will pass before it begins. This means that players suffering through injuries or a historic lack of form may recover in time to take part.
We thought about that and then took a look at the eight favourites* for Euro 2020, which will take place next summer. How could they line up at the continent-spanning showpiece next year? Who would come back into contention? Let’s have a look!
*Odds provided by SBK.
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Tournament odds: 5/1
The Red Devils are hot favourites for the tournament and with good cause, too. While they would have had to head into Euro 2020 either without star man Eden Hazard or with a severely reduced, half-fit version of him, in a year the Belgian should be fully fit and in form after what one hopes will be a much better sophomore season in Spain than the injury-ravaged debut one he’s just gone through.
Elsewhere, the decline of Jan Vertonghen will probably see him drop out of contention as a starter and given Roberto Martinez is fond of tactical experimentation, it’s easy to see Leander Dendoncker sliding into a back three. He’s performed well there for Wolves, why not Belgium? On the flanks, Timothy Castagne will probably lay down a permanent claim to being the starting right-back (his performances for Atalanta will probably earn him a big move) while in midfield, Youri Tielemans will become the established partner for Axel Witsel. In attack, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku will continue to excel for club and country.
Tournament odds: 28/5
The Three Lions were looking at a race against time to get Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford fit in time for Euro 2020, so Gareth Southgate will definitely be happy for the extra year of build-up. By then, you’d expect Dean Henderson to have fully ousted Jordan Pickford in goal, while Trent Alexander-Arnold’s genius would now be three seasons deep and simply too good to ignore.
At left-back, Luke Shaw would have had a full season to either make or break his England career (and if it’s break, Ben Chilwell is a reliable back-up). Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire are, on paper, the perfect centre-back duo for England and ahead of them, Jordan Henderson will continue to be a pass-machine but also help cover Alexander-Arnold when he raids. Next to him, Declan Rice will be at a new club (following West Ham’s likely relegation) and should be expanding his game to match his potential.
England will have to switch to 4-2-3-1 because they have four forwards who you cannot leave out. Harry Kane leads the line, sure, and then behind him is an absolute whirlwind of movement, pace, intelligence and goals. Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling and Rashford are all supremely talented with ferocious drive and mental strength. This front four would make England one of the most feared teams next year.
Tournament odds: 29/5
The World Champions will go into the tournament at a crossroads with the core of the 2018 World Cup side hanging on and the new generation not quite bursting through. Whatever he does beforehand, once the tournament begins Didier Deschamps will revert to the 4-3-2-1 that served him so well in Russia. Three of the back four will keep their place, with Samuel Umtiti’s decline further hastened by what will probably be a poor move away from Barcelona and his place taken by former team-mate Clement Lenglet.
The midfield will have vaguely the same structure but Blaise Matuidi will likely have no role in the side and in an effort to make the team somewhat more expansive, his place will be taken by the more intelligent and technical Tanguy Ndombele. The midfielder will either have won over José Mourinho with a fully fit pre-season upping his game or will have been sold and thus will have impressed elsewhere.
Up-front, it is very much as you were with Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud leading the way. Whether this will prove enough is up for debate, but France should (hopefully) be able to call on a fully fit Ousmane Dembélé and Kingsley Coman as game-changers off the bench. Maybe. Hopefully.
Tournament odds: 8/1
The Dutch have benefited the most from the postponement of Euro 2020. With Memphis Depay currently out injured, they would have had to go into the tournament without their attacking talisman. By next year, he should be back and hopefully in some kind of form to lead a forward line that will feature the attacking force of Donyell Malen and Steven Bergwijn cutting in to threaten the goal.
The Dutch defence and midfield stay mostly the same as they currently are. Matthijs de Ligt should be over his growing pains at Juventus by then so will be back on top form next to Virgil van Dijk. Midfield sees Frenkie de Jong anchor (who should also be shining for Barcelona after his own first-season growing pains). Ahead of De Jong, you have Georginio Wijnaldum and Donnie van de Beek, two men there to add thrust, verticality and goals as they run behind Memphis at false nine. The Dutch should be a group high on goalscorers.
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Tournament odds: 41/5
Spain will go into the tournament with Luis Enrique back in the dugout with the controversy of his reappointment far in the rearview mirror. They will also hope to have David de Gea in better form than he is currently in. Lucho’s dislike of Jordi Alba will not have to be tested as José Gaya’s ever-improving performances should see him earn a big move.
Sergio Busquets will anchor midfield but his ageing legs will need the energy of Fabian Ruiz and Saul to keep Spain competitive — luckily he’ll have just that and should be the chief architect of a dominant Spain midfield that can also score big goals. In attack, Rodrigo and Alvaro Morata will continue to start while the extra year will give Marco Asensio time to return to full-fitness and, probably, take the tournament by storm.
Tournament odds: 43/5
Joachim Löw‘s Germany career has mostly been about following trends but he finally seems to be developing an idea of his own and we could see it in full cry next summer. Obviously, Manuel Neuer will retain his place in goal despite having not been the best German goalkeeper for the last three years (by the time the tournament rolls around). Thanks to RB Salzburg, the German side will finally have genuine full-backs for the first time since Philipp Lahm retired, and the extra delay will allow Niklas Sule to also return to full fitness at the heart of defence.
Toni Kroos, Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gundogan will form one of the tournament’s best midfields. In attack, Kai Havertz will have taken his game to the next level and will be a true playmaking presence on the right, with Serge Gnabry as the false nine and Timo Werner peeling in off the left to be the side’s chief goal threat. There is also the very genuine threat of a fully-fit Leroy Sané coming off the bench, allowing Die Mannschaft to kick into overdrive when chasing a goal.
Tournament odds: 12/1
Italy will be glad of the tournament delay as it will allow the legendary Giorgio Chiellini to slowly find full fitness after a devastating injury wrecked his 2019/20. Out wide, there will be competition for the full-back slots with Alessandro Florenzi and Danilo D’Ambrosio on the right and Chelsea’s Emerson battling with Claudio Biraghi on the left.
Jorginho, Nico Barella and Sandro Tonali should keep their place in midfield although the pressure to include Marco Verratti will be fierce. Nico Zaniolo is another who is currently injured but will be fit again next year (should he not make it, Federico Chiesa will take the spot). Italy will be hoping Ciro Immobile can keep up his utterly ridiculous goalscoring form that has seen him score 116 goals in 167 games for Lazio.
Tournament odds: 17/1
The defending European and Nations League champions will have a side that is transitioning into a new era. The year’s delay will probably rule José Fonte and Pepe out as options next to Ruben Dias in defence, meaning Ruben Semedo will have to step up into the void. Joao Cancelo will be into his second season under Pep Guardiola so his performances will take a quantum leap forward, too.
Ruben Neves will be the chief playmaker of the side in the middle of the pitch while Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva will flank their wonderkid Joao Felix. With Bruno and Bernardo acting as the chief creators cutting infield to open up overlaps for the full-backs, Felix and Cristiano Ronaldo will find spaces and score goals. Lots and lots of goals.