Every football fan and sports bettor worth their salt will be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of Euro 2020 kicking off in June of 2021, as the delayed European Championships spread elite level games right across the continent. Against all the odds, three of the home nations have made it through to the main draw, with Northern Ireland only narrowly missing out in the playoffs. As people start scratching their heads about what to do with their Euro 2020 free bets and bonuses, we take a look at which of England, Wales, and Scotland will escape their respective groups.
England – Will Three Lions Harness Pressure of Home Support
History tells us that hosting a major championship usually brings the best out of the team playing on home soil, but then again England have always found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
After their semi-final showing at World Cup 2018, it is hoped that this group of individuals is different. However, after being tormented by Wales at Euro 2016, Southgate’s men will be wary of Scotland doing the same this time around, especially seeing as they are led by Liverpool full-back extraordinaire Andy Robertson.
Another issue that Southgate must wrestle with is that of having too much talent to choose from both when it comes to midfielders and strikers.
Up front it is all about who will partner Harry Kane, with names like Marcus Rashford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jadon Sancho, Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings, and Raheem Sterling all having made very strong cases for starting the opening game against old rivals Croatia. With players like Kane and Sancho looking to manufacture big money moves after the European Championships are done, they will both be keen to impress under the biggest spotlight football has to offer outside of the World Cup.
In the centre of the park there is similar squad congestion, although no obvious choice as to who will replace the injured Jordan Henderson in the vital holding role. In stark contrast, there are endless attacking options, as Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, and many more will all want in on the Euro 2020 action.
It is this sort of tough decision making that international managers are ultimately paid to do, and hopefully Southgate now feels established enough in the job to make the bold choices, which may not always be the ones popular with fans and the media.
If the Three Lions can banish the ghosts of World Cup 2018 by beating Croatia in their opener, then they should make it through Group D, even if Scotland do prove to be a thorn in their side.
Scotland – Out to Spoil the English Party
During the leadup to Euro 2020 much has been made of England’s home advantage, but barely anyone has mentioned the fact that the Scots will have the famous Hampden roar at their disposal when they meet Croatia and the Czech Republic.
Just as England’s Group D campaign could all hinge on them winning their opening game, the same applies for Scotland, who feel they must beat Czech Republic so as not to need two results against England and Croatia.
Whereas England have major selection headaches to contend with, the Scotland side practically picks itself, meaning Steve Clarke will have his men well prepped by the time the first whistle blows.
While their squad has plenty of quality about it, there is the suspicion that a lack of experience in midfield combined with a limited cutting edge up front, could mean that Scotland just fall short in Group D, but there is always the opportunity to make it through as one of the best third placed finishers.
Wales – Channelling Spirit of 2016 Without Their Manager
To say that Welsh preparations for the Euros have been hampered by off-field events would be an understatement. The squad suddenly found itself without a manager after Ryan Giggs ran into some issues away from the sport.
However, the Welsh seem to relish being told they cannot do something, which they made perfectly clear at Euro 2016, where they embarrassed both England and Belgium on their unexpected march to the semi-finals.
There is no doubting that on its day the Welsh Dragon can breathe enough fire to bother any team in the world, but there are concerns that ageing stars like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey might not be able to sustain their form for the duration of their Group A games. After all, both men are injury prone, and the Swiss, Turks, and Italians will provide no respite.
Because of all these reasons it will probably be more a case of seeing if Wales can hang on in games and hit teams on the break, a tactic that could backfire in stadiums as far afield as Baku and Rome. It is unclear if Ryan Giggs’ presence would have done anything to stop them picking up the Group A wooden spoon.
Conclusion – England and Scotland to Qualify
With four 3rd place qualification spots up for grabs, it is actually quite tough to get KO’d in the group phases, although that assumption could be proven false by the fact there are some particularly weak groups, in which anyone can beat anyone.
That is partly because Group F is a veritable group of death, consisting of the hapless Hungarians who have the unenviable task of playing France, Portugal, and Germany.
England, Wales, and Scotland will be desperately hoping that the big guns of European football shoot holes in each other before limping into the knockout stages. Having said that, it is hard to look beyond teams like France and Portugal who seem to have only become stronger since the World Cup. England have too, but they lack that vital experience of having tasted major international tournament success.