Following its Covid-19 postponement, Euro 2020 is being played in 2021 with Free Live Streaming on BBC iPlayer and ITV Sport. Need a Euro 2020 Football VPN?
Euro 2020 in 21 kicks off this Friday and the buzz is really starting to build. While France are the strong favourites to go one better than they did in 2016 and win the competition, it’s an open field that features a lot of strong teams that will fancy their chances.. We’ve already previewed Group A, featuring Wales, and Group D, featuring England and Scotland, and you can read them by clicking here and here. There’s also a Group B preview which can be found here, , and a Group C preview which can be read here.
Up next it’s Group E, which features the Spain, Sweden, Poland and Slovakia.
⚽ Euro 2020
📺 Free Live Euro 2020 Streaming on BBC & ITV + Catchup on BBC iPlayer & ITV Hub
📅 11 June – 11 July 2021
Coach: Luis Enrique
Captain: Sergio Busquets
Previous Best Performance: Winners 1964, 2008, 2012
Path to Euro 2020: Spain topped Group F in qualifying, ahead of Sweden, Norway, Romania, the Faroe Islands and Malta. Their record of eight wins and two draws gave them 26 points while they also had a plus 26 goal differential.
Key Player: Thiago Alcantara. Liverpool’s brilliant midfielder has finished up one of the most challenging seasons of his career. Having joined the Reds from treble winning Bayern, he was on top of the world and expected to help the then Premier League Champions take another step forward. Unfortunately he was struck down by first Covid and then a horrendous tackle from Richarlison which left him sidelined for months. When he returned, Liverpool had fallen apart their season was heading for the toilet. When Liverpool finally got things turned around, Thiago was instrumental and he finished the season in fantastic form. If he carries that form into the competition, Spain will be a tough out for anyone.
Youngster to watch: Pedri. The young Barcelona playmaker was hugely impressive throughout a tumultuous season for the club as he made a first team spot his own after arriving from Las Palmas last summer. The effortless nature in which he glides past players, the subtle passing and probing he exhibits in the final third and his diminutive build have brought comparisons to the great Andres Iniesta, the player Barcelona and Spain hope he can succeed but management and fans of both teams need to be careful not to demand too much too soon from such a young player. Four goals and six assists were an impressive return for his first season with the Catalan giants but playing him 3500 was less than ideal and Barca need to be careful not to burn him out. He likely won’t start for Spain but could be a big role off the bench if given opportunities alongside the plethora of talented midfielders in this squad.
Squad Strengths: Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Koke, Thiago Alcantara, Marcos Llorente, Fabian Ruiz, Pedri. That is an embarrassment of riches. Even with Busquets ruled out of at least the first match due to Covid, Spain have arguably the best midfield group in the competition, with proven winners and leaders galore. While they may not have a starting midfield of the calibre of Busquets, Alonso, Xavi and Iniesta, they definitely have more quality depth than that group.
Squad Weaknesses: The goalkeeping situation is less than ideal. Unai Simon is coming off a tough season with Athletic Bilbao and Robert Sanchez is very inexperienced and didn’t always impress in his first season with Brighton. They are the back-ups to David DeGea, the same David DeGea who has lost his place at Manchester United and struggled desperately for form since making a huge error at the 2018 World Cup. DeGea went from heroic superman levels between 2013 and 2018, to a liability since and yet he remains Spain’s first choice because the previous best alternative, Kepa, is suffering an even more incredible decline.
Coach: Janne Andersson
Captain: Andreas Granqvist
Previous Best Performance: Semi-Finals – 1992
Path to Euro 2020: Sweden finished second in Group F of the qualifiers, five points behind Spain having amassed 21 points through six wins and three draws. Their only defeat came in Madrid when the suffered a 3-0 reversal to the Spaniards.
Key Player: Aleksander Isak. With Zlatan ruled out through injury and Marcus Berg no longer the force he once was, Isak will carry a lot of the goalscoring burden this summer but if he can carry his form from this past season into the summer then it might not be a problem. Since leaving Borussia Dortmund for Real Sociedad, Isak has gone from strength to strength. His return of 17 goals in 34 La Liga appearances doesn’t tell the full tale of how good the young Swede has become in his two seasons in the Basque country. He leads the line brilliant, excels in terms of running the channels and keeping defenders engaged and his link-up play continues to improve month on month. If he’s on top form, Sweden have a great chance to progress.
Youngster to watch: Dejan Kulusevski. He’s only seven months younger than Isak, and may be better known considering how he burst onto the scene during a loan spell with Parma before Atalanta sold him to Juventus for £35mil. A tall, rangey winger with great close control and a fantastic change of pace, Kulusevski brings back memories of Chris Waddle in his prime. He didn’t enjoy the best of first seasons with Juventus, but nobody at Juventus enjoyed last season so it shouldn’t be held against him. He’ll miss at least the first game with Covid, but when he’s back you’ll notice the difference in Sweden’s play.
Squad Strengths: While the individual defenders might not stand-out as top tier, collectively they work very well as a unit and provide a solid platform for the team. The conceded only nine goals in qualifying, with three of them coming in one game and two of those being penalties, and proved a very difficult team to break down throughout the campaign. It’s an experienced group at the back for Sweden, all of them players willing to put their bodies on the line for the greater good.
Squad Weaknesses: They’re a bit light in the middle of the field in terms of top end quality, in particular somebody capable of dictating possession and controlling the tempo of the game. Sweden may struggle at times to retain possession and that could prove costly in certain games. They won’t expect to have much of the ball against Spain, but against Poland and Slovakia surely they’d have a preference to dominate the ball and territory. They appear to lack the required quality to do so.
Coach: Paulo Sousa
Captain: Robert Lewandowski
Previous Best Performance: Quarter-Finals – 2016
Path to Euro 2020: The Poles topped Group G in qualifying, finishing ahead of Austria, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Israel and Latvia. 8 wins and a draw gave them 25 points from their 10 games and a six point cushion from the 2nd placed Austrians.
Key Player: Robert Lewandowski. Couldn’t be anyone else could it? The greatest player in the history of his nation, the best number 9 in the world right now and a player who was robbed of a Balon d’Or last season as the powers that be stupidly decided not to award it. Lewandowski is everything you’d want in a number 9 with his movement, control, finishing and willingness to work non-stop for his team. He’s proven to be the man for the big occasion many times over and will have no doubts in his ability to lead his nation out of this difficult group.
Youngster to watch: Jakub Moder. The Brighton midfielder impressed during his limited opportunities in the back half of the season and looks set to play a much bigger role next season, especially if Yves Bissouma departs. An allrounder who goes box to box, Moder is a player of huge potential who can dominate games with his physicality while also having quality on the ball. His versatility also allows him to play multiple positions which can prove beneficial for someone who isn’t an automatic starter but is hoping to break into the team.
Squad Strengths: Good old fashioned hard work. This Polish squad are absolutely relentless in their work-rate. They have players of real quality but there aim is to outwork the opposition to enable their quality players to be match winners. Lewandowski, Piotr Zielinski, Mateusz Klich, Karol Linetty and, fitness permitting, Arkadiusz Milik are all more than capable of winning a game by themselves with a moment of brilliance. Be it a finish, a pass, or winning the ball back in a dangerous area, Poland are well stocked with players who can turn games for them.
Squad Weaknesses: The one concern with the Polish team is at the back where they may just lack a bit of pace, and the ability to cope individual with high end attackers. As a unit, they’re strong. Well drilled, well organised and very experienced. It’s just a matter of whether than collective quality can overcome a Kylian Mbappe, a Harry Kane or a Serge Gnabry.
Coach: Stefan Tarkovic
Captain: Marek Hamsik
Previous Best Performance: Round of 16 – 2016
Path to Euro 2020: Slovakia broke hearts in all four corners of Ireland as they defeated first the Republic of Ireland and then Northern Ireland in Path B of the playoff phase. They finished 3rd in Group E with 13 points, behind Croatia and Wales which earned them their spot in the playoffs. After a 0-0 draw, the defeated the Republic of Ireland 4-2 on penalties to set up their showdown with Norn Iron. Michal Duris was the hero with his extra-time winner securing a 2-1 win and a spot in last summer’s competition which is getting played this summer.
Key Player: Milan Skriniar. The Inter Milan defender is one of the very best in the world, a physical old school defender who’s more than capable on the ball and can excel in both a CB pairing of as part of a back three. Skriniar likes to drag strikers into battles and bully them, and he rarely loses those battles. He comes into the competition off a fantastic season in which he formed a tremendous back three with Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni on route to winning the Serie A title with Inter. That backline was the catalyst for a dominant team who were able to attack in waves knowing that they had security behind them. His ability to cover his fullback is underrated but with Achraf Hakimi as the wingback on his side, Skriniar was often left with a lot to do and he handled it all in his typically unflustered way.
Youngster to watch: Thomas Suslev. The Groningen attacker is one of the more under the radar players ahead of the tournament but he’s worth keeping an eye because he’s a player of immense talent who could well be playing on a bigger stage next season. Nominally a number 10, Suslev can also operate wide on either flank. His close control, balance and ability to slip passes behind the lines are his main attributes but don’t overlook his work-rate out of possession where he shows a huge capacity to not just press and harry the opposition, but win the ball back and launch counter attacks. He’s an aggressive player in and out of possession, always looking to make something happen. If Tarkovic gives him the opportunity, he could emerge as a star in this tournament.
Squad Strengths: Experience. This squad knows who they are, what they are and how they have to play in order to be successful. With 11 of the 26 behind 29 years old or older, and 12 of the 26 holding more than 25 caps, this group won’t lack in leadership and professionalism. They will be well organised and have a set game plan to which they will stick as if their lives depend on it. Captain Marek Hamsik has seen it all and will act as an inspirational leader even if he can no longer carry the team like he once did.
Squad Weaknesses: Slovakia lack, outside of Skriniar, any established top class players at the peak of their powers. Hamsik is obviously a legend in the game but he’s well past his best. Suslev is still years away from being established despite his obvious qualities and despite plenty of hustle and bustle among the rest of the squad, there is just a lack of match winning quality which will prove costly in a tournament like this.
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