European Championship 2021
The long wait is finally over and Europe is ready to crown their champion! Like the Grateful Dead said "What a long strange trip its been" but starting Friday the show begins. We at Blue Collar Media Group want to make you some money and add a little spice to watching some of the best football in the world over the next month. We will be releasing articles, videos, and podcasts to do just that! Lets start with the group stage.
Group A (Italy, Turkey,Switzerland,Wales)
The group is headlined by Italy, who are making their return to the major international tournament stage after an uncharacteristic stumble in 2018 by missing the World Cup. They are undoubtedly the favorites to take the group, but the second place qualifier is much trickier to predict. Switzerland looked good in their Nations league qualifying group that included Germany and Spain, getting 3 draws out of them was impressive to me. Turkey had some struggles in Nations league, but they will have homefield advantage against Switzerland and Wales to make a run at getting into the top 2 automatic qualifiers. Wales is a quality squad that could definitely cause some headaches, but their most recent success has been against lesser competition then they will face here. I like the Italians at home for the group stage, to burst back on the international scene in a big way and take this group easily. I like the Swiss just a bit more then Turkey to finish top 2 in this group but I still think the Turks move on as a best of rest qualifier for the knockouts.
Italy to win group -185
Switzerland to finish top 2 +110
Turkey to qualify -165
Group B (Belgium, Denmark,Russia,Finland)
The only question for Belgium in this group is their health, if Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne are fully fit, the Red Devils will roll through group B easily, having already smashed both Russia in Euro qualifying and Denmark in Nations League. Denmark is the clear choice for top 2 in this group to me, having grabbed 10 points and getting to results against England, they will also have home field advantage in the group stage. Russia had a lackluster Nations league campaign and don't inspire much confidence against Denmark or Belgium. Finland making their Euro debut are about even with Russia, I'm hesitant to give them an away win against Russia, but I could certainly see a draw, which will most likely end both of their qualifying runs this year.
Belgium to win group -140
Denmark to finish top 2 -295
Group C (Netherlands,Ukraine,Austria,North Macedonia)
The Netherlands rich football tradition has taken major hits over recent years, missing Euro 2016 and failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. The Orenje looked to have righted the ship in qualifying under Ronald Koeman, finishing second behind Germany in their Euro qualifying group and heading Germany a 4-2 loss. Koeman left for Barcelona and they have looked anything but impressive under new manager Frank De Boer. They will play all their games at home, which should be enough to win this group but Ukraine and Austria are right there. Ukraine will be making its third consecutive Euro campaign but they have never advanced beyond this point, but they do have hope this year as they have had a strong qualifying run up to here. They won their group, which included Portugal, who they beat 2-1 and only conceded 4 goals the entire way, watch out for these guys. Austria finshed second in their Euro group and won their Nations league group, if they can grab some points from Ukraine or the Netherlands, I definitely like them to move on as well out of this group. North Macedonia is just out classed here and I’ll be surprised if they grab a point out of this tough group. I will not lay 2 to 1 on a Dutch squad that is not in top form, regardless if they are at home or not. I could see Ukraine and Austria stealing points from the Netherlands, making the winner of their game the winner of the group or it could come down to goal differential and whoever hammers North Macedonia the most wins the group, but I see 3 qualifiers coming out of Group C.
Ukraine to win group +475
Austria to win group +450
Ukraine top 2 +100
Austria top 2 -110
Group D (England,Croatia,Scotland,Czech Republic)
The English are the favorites in this group and have some interesting company in Group D with old rival Scotland, Croatia the team that knocked them out in the semi finals of World Cup 2018, and The Czech Republic which handed them their only qualifying loss. The Three Lions are in top form though, scoring a massive 37 goals in their 8 qualifying matches! Croatia has regressed since falling to France in the 2018 World Cup, the core of this team is getting old and fast, Their game against England to open play will be pivotal to them moving on. Scotland gets both Czech Republic and Croatia at home, with a bit of luck and little bit of skill, I could see them steal some points away and battle for a qualifying spot. The Czechs qualified second out of their Euro group, handing England their lone setback and finishing second in their group. Two losses to Scotland since have left me scratching my head at a team that has been known to collapse on the big stage, just like the World Cup in 2018. England wins this group easily, but the rest of it is full of question marks for me.
England to win group -245
Group E (Spain,Poland,Sweden,Slovakia)
Spain and Poland headline this group with their match June 19th probably deciding the winner of this group. Spain isn't the team from 10 years ago terrorizing the world stage, but they have only dropped one contest in their last 18 outings. Poland is lead by all world striker Robert Lewandowski and their fate lies square on his shoulders. The Poles have struggled recently losing all their Nations league games and scoring only 18 goals in 10 Euro qualifying games, They did win their group and have a new offensive minded manager in Paulo Sousa, I expect the offense and Lewandowski to be on point to get out of this group. Sweden made a quarter finals run in World Cup 2018 before losing to England and finished runner-up in their Euro group to Spain, which they now must face again to get out of this stage, Zlatan Ibrahimovic won't be suiting up for this run, which hurts their chances. Slovakia had to make a playoff run to even get here and a disastrous Nation League campaign that saw them lose 4 of 6 games, doesn't inspire any confidence here for me. Spain is just too heavy of a favorite for me to bet at almost 3 to 1 with the lack of a dominate forward, I think this is also a 3 team qualifying group and see Poland and Sweden moving through to knockouts.
Poland to finish top 2 +105
Poland to qualify -265
Swden to qualify -210
Group F (Germany,France,Portugal,Hungary)
The group of Death for this tournament is undoubtedly Group F. Picking a winner out of here is almost an impossible ask, I will say that 3 teams will qualify out of it. Lets start with the French, who are favorites to win this group from odds makers. They return most the talent that won them World Cup 2018 and topped their qualifying group, although they did drop four points to runner-up Turkey. Germany is the Jekyll and Hyde team of this tournament, mixing good performances with absolutely dreadful ones, including dropping all four Nations League games against France and the Netherlands and then a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Spain. The defense will need to come together for them to survive this dangerous group. Portugal as hard as this may seem to say, is flying under the radar in this blockbuster group. They won Euro 2016, Nations league 2019, and have only dropped 2 of their last 26 matches since World Cup 2018. Besides Ronaldo they have added a bunch of talent in Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix and Ruben Dias. It wouldn't surprise me if they make a run to top this group. Poor Hungary! This is a steady squad that has shown improvement over the last few years and I would favor them to advance in almost an other year, but this draw is absolutely brutal. We are getting plus money on the group winner, so I’ll take two of those and then a couple of Top 2s as the to qualify odds are too long for the big 3.
France to win group +150
Portugal to win group +300
Portugal Top 2 -165
Germany Top 2 -200
There you have it folks, my group stage predictions for Euro 2020. Don't miss all the great content Blue Collar Media Group has for this great event. Our resident soccer guru Will Latham @LathOnTour will be over coverage on his YouTube Channel, like and subscribe to it! He will also be appearing along myself and Kenneth Cotterill on tonight's @Shooters_Pod as we breakdown the all tournament action for you!