The eve of Euro 2020 is here, and what better time to make our bold predictions ahead of the month-long festival of football. Germany or France out in the group stage? Scotland to go further than England? This is how The Sportsman’s content team think the tournament will pan out.
Kris Voakes: France
Looking at their forward and midfield departments, there will be few teams who can get near them if they play at their best more often than not. After winning the World Cup, the pressure is off and they should be able to use that extra experience.
Simon Lillicrap: France
It’s tough to find a valid reason to argue against world champions France. Even if they don’t win their ‘Group of Death’, they will come alive in the knockout stages and beat Portugal in the final.
Gary Maiden: Portugal
If they can win the 2016 Euros with Eder scoring the winner, a forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix should come close too. Ruben Dias at the back isn’t bad either. Facing France and Germany in their group as opposed to the knockouts might be a blessing in disguise.
Conor Keane: France
The World Cup winners have one of, if not the strongest squad in the tournament. An attack of Kylian Mbappe, the returning Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann can cause problems for any of the nations close to their level. With the disruptive N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba in midfield, it will be interesting to see who can break that defensive barrier.
Kris: Cristiano Ronaldo
He's still prolific, he's still better than most strikers who've ever played the game, and he's still destined to play a huge part in Portugal's run, especially given the fact they have a far better squad than they had when winning the comp five years ago.
Simon: Romelu Lukaku
I’m predicting Belgium to get to the semi-finals and that, combined with an easy group, will provide Lukaku with more than enough time to win the Golden Boot.
Gary: Romelu Lukaku
He may not have the assists of Kevin De Bruyne to call upon for the first game or two, but Romelu Lukaku is more than capable of filling his boots against Denmark, Finland and Russia in Group B. He’s a flat-track bully after all.
Conor: Kylian Mbappe
I’m backing France's Mbappe to come out as the top goalscorer this summer. With his quality in front of goal, the quality of the players around him, and my expectation that France will win the tournament, I could not overlook him.
What happens to England
Pens. Quarters. It's England, after all. Only this time it will be against France after finishing second to Croatia and then edging past Poland.
Simon: Last 16
Heartbreak for England this time around. Unless Gareth Southgate can mastermind a second place group finish, the Three Lions will likely face France or Portugal in the second round. Both will be too strong, but I’ve gone for Portugal to dump England out.
We’ll draw with Croatia and Scotland, and beat Czech Republic to scrape through our group. Much like in 2018, avoiding top spot will serve us well. Raheem Sterling will miss a sitter in the quarters as we go out on penalties. Never change.
This summer's tournament could be an anti-climax for England. The main reason they did so well in Russia three years ago was the lack of quality in the teams they faced in the tournament in general. The squad has the quality to go far but I think Gareth Southgate is too defensive at times. I think the quarter-finals will be their get-off point. Sorry.
Group stage flops
I can see Turkey struggling. Playing Italy first up, if they lose by a couple it might hand the initiative to Wales when the pair meet in the second game, and if there are a couple of draws mixed in, Switzerland might even fancy their chances.
Hang on? Germany? Yep. Germany play all three games at home but this is a side who have lost to North Macedonia at home and to Spain 6-0 in recent months, and they will fall short. Joachim Low in his final tournament in charge will finish bottom of Group F, as Hungary will do enough to finish above them.
France. Yep, I said it. They have form for a shock exit in major tournaments when you least expect it, and I expect Portugal and Germany to prove a match for the world champions. Hungary are being overlooked, and home advantage against the French could prove crucial.
Austria will have another disappointing tournament. I just do not think they have the quality to set them apart in tight games and they could finish below North Macedonia. I'm also expecting Wales to come back down to Earth after their unbelievable semi-final run in 2016.
With only six group winners and eight round-of-16 games, those ties that don't feature group winners give the likes of Denmark a chance. I've got them to beat Switzerland in the last 16 and reach the quarters. Not quite Euro 92 heroics, mind.
Turkey boast a delightful squad with Caglar Soyuncu, Cengiz Under and Burak Yilmaz, but it is their route to the latter stages which could see them reach the semi-finals. Finishing second in their group to Italy could see them go far.
Hungary won’t finish bottom of the Group of Death, don’t @ me (did I do that right?) At 8/1, Italy are also being underestimated. They won all 10 of their qualifying games and conceded just four goals. Topping Group A could well see them given a favourable route to the latter stages.
Conor: Czech Republic
The Czech Republic will surprise a few. The times when I have seen West Ham United this season, Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal impressed me and I think they could have a real impact in games. I really think anyone in Group D could qualify or miss out.
Shock prediction of the tournament
Kris: France to win the tournament without conceding a goal
Les Bleus play Germany, Hungary and Portugal, then I have them facing Poland, England, Belgium and Portugal. It’s a stretch, but… no goals against, you heard it here last.
Simon: Scotland to go further than England
Hear me out. If England win the group and Scotland come second, Steve Clarke’s side could face Poland, Sweden or Slovakia for a spot in the last eight. England will go out in the last sixteen and the Tartan Army will make the quarter-finals.
Gary: World Cup finalists to fail
If France going out at the group stages isn’t a shock, I don’t know what is. As World Cup finalists three years ago, you’d expect Croatia to go far too, and I have a feeling they won’t make it out of the group – to the benefit of the Scots! When was the last time the two finalists at a previous major tournament didn’t make it out of the groups?
Conor: Russia to soar
In a decent group and with two home games, Russia will have a similar run to the one they went on in the 2018 World Cup.