Euro 2020 Tips: Five Surprise Picks To Consider
With long journeys, home advantage and a few favourites struggling for form Liam shares some outside picks
Das Ende for Die Mannschaft
As anyone who watched our preview show will know, I do not rate Germany’s chances this year. They have plenty of talent but things don’t look quite right, and the bizarre situation surrounding Joachim Low certainly does not help their chances. Germany would probably have enough to navigate a number of the other groups, but up against the reigning World Cup and European champions I can see them struggling. Hungary are better than most people realise, and I would be surprised if anyone in this group picks up enough points to finish as one of the best third place teams. So my first surprise pick of the tournament is for Germany to fall at the first hurdle and fail to get out of their group. They are 7/1 not to qualify from Group F so it would be something of an upset. All eras come to an end and they usually finish ingloriously. This is Germany’s turn.
Three Lions To Croak Not Roar
Although the Euros are split across a dozen host nations, for England it will really feel like a home tournament. If the Three Lions manage to go all the way, five of their seven games will be in Wembley, with only the Round of 16 and quarter final games not played in the English capital. Unfortunately, I do not think they will go all the way or anything like it. England are odds-on for each of their group games (and in fact only just outside 2/1 to win all three) so we have to expect them to win the group.
The winners of Group D will face off against the runner-up from the Group of Death (Group F) and I expect that to be Portugal. Whoever qualifies from that group will be a formidable challenge mind, and will be too strong for England in my view. So my second surprise of the tournament is that Gareth Southgate’s men will crash out in the Round of 16.
England have not beaten a top team in a tournament in God knows how long. They came out on top against an experimental Spain side back in 2019 and won against Belgium last year (although they have since lost to Belgium, making that 3 losses from 4 against the Red Devils). Otherwise there is not much to write home about in terms of their form. England bully the weak teams and wilt against the big ones and I expect the same to happen in the Round of 16, whoever they come up against. You can back England to be eliminated in the Round of 16 @ 8/5 with most bookmakers.
A Surprise in Store in Group C
North Macedonia may as well not be in the competition if you look at the bookmakers odds. They are rank outsiders in all three games and are 2/5 to finish bottom of their group. They are favourites to score the fewest goals in the tournament and the longest odds of any nation to reach the quarterfinals. That is peculiar considering they bested Germany earlier this year and have only lost twice in their last fifteen games.
North Macedonia’s form stands in stark contrast to their Group C colleagues Austria. Das Team have one win in their last six, and that came against the Faroe Islands. On top of that Austria only managed a single goal in Euro 2016, did not qualify for the World Cup and got through qualifiers for this tournament courtesy of a very obliging group.
I’m genuinely not sure why the Macedonians are so overlooked in the betting and I would not be surprised to see them kick off the campaign with a win over Austria in Bucharest in round one. North Macedonia are 11/2 to win that game and I’ll definitely be backing them.
Belgium to Battle Back from the Brink
Robertro Martinez’s men are 8/11 to top Group B. That seems a bit stingy to me considering they play Russia in St Petersburg and Denmark in Copenhagen. In fact, they are the only group favourites not to enjoy home advantage and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them struggle early. They have the talent to battle back, and with Finland rounding out the group, qualification is all but guaranteed. The way the draw is stacked, however, Belgium (much like England) could find their route through the knock-out rounds much more navigable if they happened to come second in their group rather than top.
Not So Neutral Venues for Switzerland and Poland
With the tournament spread out like never before there are some unusual logistics to consider. Most teams will have at least one tricky journey to make, but Poland and Switzerland will definitely have the biggest headaches. Group E will split games between Seville, Spain and St Petersburg Russia, two cities which are 3,585km apart. Poland is the only nation who will make that journey twice, a staggering 7,100km round trip (not to mention the potential 20C temperature swing each time). Similarly, Group A games will be split between Rome, Italy and Baku, Azerbaijan (3,100KM apart) and Switzerland are the only nation who will make that journey twice. The Swiss play Turkey in the final group game, in Baku, four days after taking on Italy in Rome. Turkey to beat Switzerland is available @ 19/10 and I’m really not sure why.