We’ve all had to wait a year longer than expected for Euro 2020 to begin, and while there’s a collective feeling of happiness that we are set to be spoiled by a major international tournament, ultimately the question on everyone’s lips is: Which nation is going to be crowned champions?
There are seven nations in single-figure odds to win the tournament with most bookmakers, suggesting an incredibly close competition. France lead the market with England marginally behind, with the likes of Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy all expected to fiercely compete, too.
Outside of these leading countries, the Netherlands, Denmark, Croatia and Turkey are rated as the liveliest of the dark horses.
Bet on Euro 2020 Outright Winner with Bet365:
Euro 2020 Outright Winner: France @ 5/1 (Betfair)
The reigning World Cup champions will not only be hoping to add to their trophy cabinet here; they’ll be expecting to.
Having lost the final of Euro 2016 to Portugal on home turf, Les Bleus will no doubt feel they have unfinished business in this competition after bouncing back to win the World Cup in 2018. The year’s delay may actually have proven to be helpful for manager Didier Deschamps, too, as key players such as Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele have remained healthier and displayed better form for their clubs this season compared to last.
Moreover, Deschamps’ relationship with Karim Benzema appears to be on the mend after the Real Madrid striker was announced in his 26-man squad. Olivier Giroud does a good job for the team, but he infamously failed to even register a shot on target in the entirety of France’s triumphant World Cup 2018 campaign. The Chelsea man had previously been Deschamps’ best option as a target man, so the only real weakness in his squad may have evaporated via the inclusion of Benzema.
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Les Blues’ strength in depth in every position is unquestionable, particularly in defence, where they are generally resolute behind an inspied Ngolo Kante. What’s more, they arguably possess the most talented player in the tournament in Kylian Mbappe; three years after he lit up the World Cup as a teenager in Russia, he’ll surely be even more deadly this time around with the likes of Pogba and Antoine Griezmann feeding him.
As such, it’s no surprise to see them rated as short as 5/1, and they’d be a worthy bet for anyone willing back the favourites.
Next Best Euro 2020 Outright Winner: Portugal @ 9/1 (Betfair)
Despite only winning one match in normal time at Euro 2016, Portugal are the holders of this competition.
Jose Fonte, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Moutinho were all key players back then and are still a big part of this squad, which has seen plenty of transition following that success in France. Manchester City’s Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva, Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes, Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Andre Silva all now integrated and expected to help their nation achieve further success.
In Dias and the likes of Andre Silva, Felix and Jota, Fernando Santos finally has players who can go some way to fixing Portugal’s major issues of recent years in terms of possessing quality central defenders and attackers to surround Ronaldo with.
Indeed, Ronaldo is now 36-years-old and, while he continues to score goals for fun both for club and country, he can no longer be expected to carry that burden alone. Jota especially has demonstrated that he is capable of rivalling the legendary forward in the goalscoring stakes.
Ultimately, Portugal’s squad is packed with a tremendous blend of experience and youth, but more importantly they possess genuine quality all over the pitch, making them very interesting dark horses – if they can indeed still be considered that – at odds of 9/1.
The only fear with both France and Portugal is that they are in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Germany and Hungary, but with three nations progressing from four of the six groups, there is a safety blanket there for both nations.
Should France and Portugal finish in the top two of Group F as I predict, they will be kept apart until the final, making both worth backing each-way should there indeed be a repeat of the 2016 showdown.
Each Way Euro 2020 Outright Winner Dark Horses: Denmark @ 28/1 (Sky Bet)
It’s a shame that the odds of Denmark causing another major upset to add to their Euro 1992 triumph have crashed in recent weeks and months, as they were as big as 100/1 to win the tournament last year.
At 28/1 it’s debatable whether they offer real value, as personally I do think it will be a major nation lifting the European Championship trophy at Wembley this summer.
However, for those looking to back a lively outsider, Denmark do appear to fit the bill. In Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney they have an incredibly solid defensive spine, helping them win four of their last five matches without coneding.
While Kasper Hjulmand’s side perhaps lack a genuine goalscorer, Yussuf Poulsen, Martin Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg are no mugs and can adequately supplement Christian Eriksen, who has scored 36 goals in 108 caps for his country. The former Tottenham midfielder has been somewhere close to his best again for Serie A champions Inter Milan in recent months, too.
Personally, I’m on board the Danes to reach the semi-finals at 5/1 (Boylesports). The route predictor I made had them facing Turkey – who would be my secondary shout to upset the odds and progress far into the tournament – and the Netherlands in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively, and I think they are more than capable of defeating both of those after extra-time and penalties should that play out.
Indeed, even beating Portugal in the semi-finals is far from out of the equation, so they’d be a worthy each-way bet at a decent price, as would Turkey at 66/1 (Betfair).
How will England fare?
While you should never read too much into international friendlies, especially with Gareth Southgate not having some of his best players available to him due to the recent Europa League and Champions League finals featuring three English teams, I’d be lying if I said the bore 1-0 wins over Austria and Romania hadn’t sapped some of my enthusiasm for England away a little.
I just can’t back the Three Lions at a best price of 6/1 (Sport Nation) personally.
There are too many question marks about the best XI; while it is nice to have strength in depth, personally I think Southgate would have wanted more clarification in his own mind about which team he feels will serve him and the nation best this summer.
Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson are two players who almost certainly would have been in that, yet it remains unclear whether either will be truly fit enough to perform anywhere near to their best abilities this summer after both sustaining serious injuries in recent months. The former in particular leaves a gaping hole in defence, which I’m not convinced the likes of Tyrone Mings, Connor Coady or Ben White can fill.
Moreover, if England do top Group D as expected, they will face whoever finishes second out of France, Portugal, Germany and Hungary in the ‘Group of Death’.
Personally, I’d expect that to be Portugal, with a third knockout stage exit to the Portuguese in less than two decades unfortunately the most likely eventuality for England in that possible scenario.
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