Betting guru Mark O’Haire profiles all 24 nations chasing glory


France

Best Euros performance: champions (1984, 2000)

World champions and pre-tournament favourites, France could take all the beating this summer. Didier Deschamps boasts an exceptional squad with strength and depth across almost every possible position. Karim Benzema’s return enforces an already mouthwatering forwardline and Les Blues have proven themselves capable of dogged and pragmatic progress when called upon. Course and distance form in their locker, France’s biggest obstacle is being housed in the ‘Group of Death’, yet a solitary success in the pool stage should be enough to book a knockout place – from there Les Blues will be difficult to stop.

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England

Best Euros performance: third place (1968)

Arguably the biggest underachiever on the international circuit since 1966, England are clear contenders to end 55 years of hurt with an overdue major trophy at Euro 2020. Gareth Southgate’s side captured the nation with a memorable run to the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, and with Wembley potentially hosting up to six of the Three Lions’ possible seven games, home advantage could prove to be a deciding factor. England’s squad is packed full of exceptional game-changers, it’s now up to Southgate to unlock the side’s potential – they may never get a better opportunity to conquer the continent.

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Belgium

Best Euros performance: runners-up (1980)

Belgium re-wrote the history books with a flawless qualification campaign and Roberto Martinez has guided the group to an exemplary 20 competitive victories in 23 meaningful matches since the Red Devils tabled bronze at the 2018 World Cup. Romelu Lukaku spearheads an attack-minded outfit with plenty of firepower, although doubts persist over an ageing backline with defensive shield Axel Witsel also facing a race against time to be fit. There’s a last-chance saloon surrounding Belgium this summer as their fabled golden generation reaches their prime. A strong challenge is expected but defensive deficiencies could prove to be the Red Devils’ downfall.

Spain

Best Euros performance: champions (1964, 2008, 2012)

Three successive major tournament failures forced the Spanish football federation into a re-think and the appointment of treble-winning head coach Luis Enrique has certainly instigated change. Sergio Ramos’ exclusion – and no Real Madrid players in the final squad – has caused ructions back home and defensively Spain do look a touch short in terms of quality. However, La Roja have evolved under Luis Enrique and showcased their more direct approach in a 6-0 shellacking of Germany last November. If Spain can iron out the inconsistencies and show a more ruthless touch in front of goal, they can go close again.

Germany

Best Euros performance: champions (1972, 1980, 1996)

Germany’s frailties have been mercilessly exposed over the past three years yet there’s a growing feeling Die Mannschaft could be flying under the radar this summer. Joachim Low has recalled old favourites Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels, has arguably the best midfield in the competition at his disposal, as well as top-level pace, physicality and panache in attack. If individual errors and systematic failings can be avoided out at the back, Germany will fancy their chances of silencing the doubters. After all, this is a nation that’s reached at least the semi-finals in five of their past six major tournaments and Low will be desperate to sign-off in style after 15 largely successfully years in charge.

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Portugal

Best Euros performance: champions (2016)

Spain are the only nation to successfully defend their European Championship title but Iberian neighbours Portugal are worthy challengers to repeat the feat. The Selecao are expertly-led by wily veteran coach Fernando Santos, an expert in diligent and pragmatic major tournament football. Having largely underwhelmed on their way to 2016 glory, the group have been bolstered by the emergence of a glittering collection of attacking stars; Cristiano Ronaldo will be joined by Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Digo Jota and/or Joao Felix in a frightening attacking arsenal. Concerns persist over an ageing central defence, plus the ‘Group of Death’, although the Selecao are streetwise enough to navigate a way to the knockout stage.

Italy

Best Euros performance: champions (1968)

From rock-bottom and ruin, Italy have risen from the rubble to be considered realistic challengers under the shrewd guidance of Roberto Mancini. Failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup was described as the Azzurri’s most embarrassing showing in over 50 years but the former Manchester City boss has overseen an eye-catching resurgence that’s included a solitary reverse in 23 competitive contests. Hosting all three group games will give Italy a helping hand in a tricky pool, even if backline issues remain with experienced pair Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci still mainstays in the heart of the defence.

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Netherlands

Best Euros performance: champions (1988)

Netherlands are back at the top table following successive failed qualification campaigns and the Oranje have been handed home advantage, arguably the kindest group in the competition and a reasonable path to the quarter-finals, raising expectations. Nevertheless, Virgil Van Dijk’s injury and Ronald Koeman’s departure have undoubtedly weakened the Dutch challenge, and doubts persist over Frank de Boer’s ability to engineer a serious assault on silverware from the dugout.

Denmark

Best Euros performance: champions (1992)

Cash has come for Denmark over the past 12 months and it’s easy to see why. Housed in an agreeable pool with home advantage in all three group games, the Red-White have proven obdurate opposition for most, suffering just two competitive losses in 34 fixtures since October 2016. Underpinned by a strong and solid structure, the spine of Kasper Hjulmand’s side suggests the Scandinavians will be well capable of grinding out results in knockout tournament football. Christian Eriksen headlines, and even if there is no standout striker, the Danes have the capacity to outperform their odds.

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Croatia

Best Euros performance: quarter-finals (1996, 2008)

Consistently punching well above their weight on the international stage, perennial dark horses Croatia rewarded punters with a run to the World Cup final three years ago. Head coach Zlatko Dalic has stayed on but sustaining top-tier form has proven tricky for the Blazers. The Balkans arrive with a weaker squad than three years ago, have conceded 1.62 goals per-game on average in in competitive internationals since September 2018 – the worst return of all Euro 2020 qualifiers – and must face two host nations in Group D. A repeat of the World Cup performance looks beyond Croatia this time around.

Turkey

Best Euros performance: semi-finals (2008)

Turkey hit all the high notes for bettors searching for a worthy dark horse. The Crescent Stars picked up four points from France during qualification, conceding only three goals in 10 preliminaries along the way – none of which arrived from open play – and continued their resurgence under respected head coach Senol Gunes this year. Netherlands and Norway were easily dismissed in March and led to many believing a repeat of their 2008 exploits was possible. Evergreen striker Burak Yilmaz has excelled domestically, playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu impressed and Turkey are well-stocked in defence, giving the group the balance required to bloody a few noses.

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Switzerland

Best Euros performance: round of 16 (2016)

Switzerland haven’t progressed past the first knockout round of a major tournament since hosting the World Cup back in 1954 and Die Nati’s glass ceiling looks unlikely to be bust this summer with Vladimir Petkovic’s posse looking vulnerable in an ultra-competitive Group A. Traditionally consistent, if unspectacular, the Swiss squad appears a little stale and has been handed a devilishly difficult schedule; Die Nati must travel from Baku to Rome and back in-between matches, a five-hour flight across two time zones. Switzerland therefore look a touch overrated in the Group A markets and are easily opposed at the prices.

Poland

Best Euros performance: quarter-finals (2016)

Poland have failed to progress from the group-stage in five of their past six major tournaments, recently flopping at the 2018 World Cup. The 2021 edition has regressed in standard since, and whilst Robert Lewandowski is still a fearsome operator at the top end of the field, there’s a worry the Eagles will be exposed and overawed at the defensive end. Head coach Paulo Sousa only arrived in situ in January with a promise to play front-foot football and the White-Reds have the capacity to qualify but anything beyond the first knockout stage could prove a task too tall for the current crop.

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Sweden

Best Euros performance: semi-finals (1992)

Injury may have ruled Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of proceedings but Sweden still look more than capable of producing a solid Euros campaign. Under astute head coach Janne Andersson, the Blue-Yellow boast a strong unity, are functional rather than flashy but mightily effective and efficient. Now with a smattering of game-changers in forward areas – Aleksander Isak and Dejan Kulusevski – the Scandinavians should be targeting another quarter-final berth and look the more rounded side to finish in the top-two of Group E. A solid back-to-lay option on the Exchange.

Ukraine

Best Euros performance: group-stage (2012, 2016)

Ukraine have undergone more turmoil than most in recent years yet former Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko has overseen a remarkable rise since the nation’s poor showing at Euro 2016. An influx of technically gifted players under the age of 25 has aided the Yellow-Blues cause and a high-quality midfield trio of Taras Stepanenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi should give the group a great platform to work from. A presentable pool means Ukraine are an interesting back-to-lay option.

Czech Republic

Best Euros performance: runners-up (1996)

Czech Republic have thrived on the continental circuit, qualifying for seven successive European Championship finals, putting the Lions in elite company alongside Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. However, unlike their predecessors, the Czechs lack star quality and reliant upon Jaroslav Silhavy’s organisation skills. Handed a tough pool alongside England, Croatia and Scotland, their curtain-raiser against the latter will be key to determining whether the Lions stay on beyond the group-stage.

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Austria

Best Euros performance: group-stage (2008, 2016)

Austria’s awful major tournament record, coupled with an overly-cautious approach under Franco Foda, has left public opinion relatively low heading into Euro 2020. Das Team flopped when well fancied five years ago, and while a repeat to that scale appears unlikely, progression to the quarter-finals or further looks well beyond their current capability. Pinching points from North Macedonia and Ukraine is imperative but no gimme.

Russia

Best Euros performance: semi-finals (2008)

Russia revelled in their role as 2018 World Cup hosts, exceeding expectations before exiting at the last-eight stage. Sbornaya supporters will hope staging two of the team’s group games in St Petersburg will invoke a similar odds-defying display, although Stanislav Cherchesov’s outfit have regressed and are overly reliant on hulking centre-forward Artem Dzyuba. Overcoming Belgium and host nation Denmark will be difficult, putting pressure on the Sbornaya to avoid the banana skin against neighbours Finland.

Wales

Best Euros performance: semi-finals (2016)

Wales are back at the Euros with 2016’s memorable campaign still fresh in the memory. The Dragons – 100/1 debutants five years – dispatched Belgium en-route to a semi-final exit and head into this summer’s renewal a little under the radar. With Robert Page taking interim charge, Wales must negotiate a trappy Group A, yet few opponents own as many possible game-changers as the Dragons. Underpinned by a rock-solid base, the group outsiders could relish their role as underdogs with an effective contain and counter approach.

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Scotland

Best Euros performance: group-stage (1992, 1996)

Scotland will end an agonising 23-year wait in the wilderness this summer having finally secured their place back at a major tournament under Steve Clarke’s astute stewardship. The former Kilmarnock supremo has brought a heady mix of momentum and courage to the senior set-up, engineering a team that’s humble, hard working and difficult to beat. Benefitting from a core of talented players, the Scots will not be easy meat. All attention will be on a meeting with the auld enemy England at Wembley but the priority must be to oust Czech Republic in the opener if a first-ever place in the knockout rounds is to be achieved.

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North Macedonia

Best Euros performance: debutants

Debutants North Macedonia are the lowest-ranked team at the 2020 tournament having secured qualification via the Nations League play-offs. Determined to make the most of a rare appearance on the continent’s top table, the Risovi have shown themselves to be capable and competitive against unassuming opposition – as recently as March Igor Angelovski’s humbled Germany as 33/1 no-hopers. Housed in a group that could have been stronger, North Macedonia have been disrespectfully dismissed and should avoid the ignominy of a zero point return.

Finland

Best Euros performance: debutants

Over 30 fruitless qualification campaigns have come and gone since an attempt to feature in the 1938 World Cup but Finland finally scratched that itch and booked their first-ever place at a major tournament. Markku Kanerva masterminded the Eagle-Owls exceptional efforts, cultivating a club-like atmosphere and integrating an efficient structure that focusses on Teemu Pukki’s counter-attacking instincts. A tight defence ensures Finland are rarely overawed, although navigating their way through a tricky Group B looks beyond the newbies.

Hungary

Best Euros performance: third place (1964)

Despite enjoying home advantage in their opening two encounters, Hungary kick-off their Euro 2020 campaign as significant underdogs in the ‘Group of Death’. The Magyars are the largest outsiders of all to progress to the knockout stages with world champions France, defending champions Portugal and an away game with Germany standing in their way. To make matters worse, inspirational star Dominik Szoboszlai has been ruled out of proceedings. It’s difficult to find too many positives for Marco Rossi’s men this summer.

Slovakia

Best Euros performance: round of 16 (2016)

Slovakia join Spain, Sweden and Poland in a presentable Group E but followers of the Repre are in pessimistic mood ahead of this’s summer’s jamboree. A dreadfully dour and defence-first attitude has underwhelmed over the past 36 months, whilst the creative burden falls almost unilaterally on Marek Hamsik’s shoulders, whose powers are waning. Stefan Tarkovic’s team have key personnel fit and available in the backline, although lack the required flair, finesse and efficiency to really make an impact. An early exit looms.