England to ease past Scotland and Wales to win

Turkey v Wales
Wednesday, 17:00
Live on BBC One

Turkey’s timid performance against a swarming, high-energy Italy on the opening night of Euro 2020 should fill Wales with confidence; the psychological difference between the two nations can make the difference, but for that to happen Rob Page needs his players to be more assertive. If Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale show for the ball and look to dictate the game as they did at Euro 2016, Turkey will shrink.

And the Welsh have a crucial advantage in the wide areas, where Italy were dominant against a ropey couple of Turkish full-backs. Left-back Umut Meras in particular is a weak link, with Italy easily flying down his flank in their comfortable 3-0 win. If Page swaps Daniel James (very impressive in the opener) over to the right, he can take on his man and create chances for Kieffer Moore.

Turkey’s main attacking threat is on the counter-attack through Hakan Calhanoglu gliding through the lines to feed Burak Yilmaz in behind, and Wales may be vulnerable here with Joe Allen alone at the base of midfield. It will take an aggressive and confident Wales performance to stop them, but if Bale has a good game then they have every chance of securing the three points.

England v Scotland
Friday, 20:00
Live on ITV

Scotland deserved better than a 2-0 defeat in their opening game, with Andrew Robertson creating five chances, more than any other player in the tournament so far. Better finishing, and without the bad luck of Patrik Schik’s wonder goal, and Steve Clarke’s side could have made a winning start. Nevertheless they do not have the defensive strength to cope with a changed England 11.

Fresh legs will be a huge advantage at Euro 2020 and there is a good chance Gareth Southgate is about to switch up his forwards and full-backs. More specifically, he can expect joy down England’s left flank where Jack Grealish will draw defenders towards him and Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell will find space on the overlap – with Mason Mount driving forward on that side too. Southgate’s free eights made constant runs ahead of the wingers, finding space behind the Croatia midfield.

Arguably Scotland’s biggest weakness is on the right side of defence, where Jack Hendry struggled somewhat in the back three as right wing-back Stephen O’Donnell looked to get forward. If England do overload the left Scotland are in trouble.

Kalvin Phillips for England.jpg

Portugal v Germany
Saturday, 17:00
Live on ITV

Joachim Low’s side have looked stronger since moving to a 3-4-3 and with Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller returning to the side. The formation change also means two of their talented wingers can stay narrow, getting close to Muller and moving beyond him as the Bayern Munich forward drops. Whichever two of Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Leroy Sane play, Low has the options to cause damage in the Portugal defence.

There is a slight issue for Fernando Santos in defence, because Nelson Semedo and Raphael Guerreiro both love to bomb forward while Pepe doesn’t have the legs at 38 to deal with balls in behind. Consequently if Germany’s wide forwards – two from Chelsea, two from Bayern – can channel the energy of Thomas Tuchel or Hansi Flick with quick vertical football through the lines then Portugal may come unstuck.

Portugal’s attack is devastating, mind, and Germany’s 3-4-3 could leave too much space through central midfield to deal with Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo. The most likely outcome is goals at both ends.

Spain v Poland
Saturday, 20:00
Live on BBC One

Spain’s preparation for Euro 2020 was scuppered by a Covid-19 outbreak and indeed their sluggish performance against Sweden reflected that. Luis Enrique has worked hard to ensure he has a fit and urgent team capable of playing more directly than Spain teams of the past, and yet the only player who achieved that in the opener was Pedri.

Barcelona’s teenage midfielder was by far the most threatening player, his urgency in possession and desire to shuffle the ball forwards giving Spain brief spurts of momentum. Poland won’t be any easier than Sweden, but the suspension of Grzegorz Krychowiak, who was sent off for two bookable offences against Slovakia, serious weakens their midfield.

With Krychowiak out Poland suddenly look soft in exactly the areas in which Pedri likes to play. That should be enough for Spain, though again dominating possession without much penetration, to find the breakthrough and record a narrow win – though it may take until the second half to breakthe deadlock.