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Five Underdogs That Could Win Euro 2020

| June 9, 2021 8:26 am PDT

It is a year later than originally scheduled, but Euro 2020 is just about to begin. A month of the best soccer players in Europe going head-to-head awaits. It looks like being an open contest, with the likes of Belgium, France, and England the favorites to end up lifting the trophy in July.

But with so many national sides boasting world-class players these days, there are bound to be a few surprises during the tournament.

Wales shocked everyone in 2016 when it managed to make it all the way to the semifinals before losing out to eventual champions Portugal.

Belgium certainly didn’t count on Hal Robson-Kanu knocking it out in the quarterfinals. But it was Wales’ togetherness and team spirit that carried it so far into the competition.

I have picked out five nations that might be able to make a similar impression at Euro 2020. There are some relatively big names among the group – but all of these will be attracting some favorable odds at the online bookmakers this summer.

Turkey – 51.00 to Win

Turkey has traditionally concentrated on gifted midfielders to provide the excitement for the national team, while the defensive side of things has lagged far behind.

But even though head coach Senol Gunes is an attack-minded coach, it is his rock-solid back line that has come to the fore since he returned to the national set up in 2019.

Turkey qualified fairly easily for Euro 2020, coming in second behind France in the group. They only lost one game – to Iceland – and conceded just three goals in ten qualifying games.

That was the best record of any team in any group, and it’s that defensive strength that Gunes will be relying on at this summer’s tournament.

That’s not to say that Turkey does not have some attacking options as well, however.

Although there is not the same caliber of midfielders and strikers that made it to the final four of the 2002 World Cup and the Euros in 2008, there are a few players that have enjoyed some exceptional seasons this year.

Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu is the creative spark and Yuzuf Yacizi and veteran Burak Yilmaz – both Ligue 1 winners at Lille – can provide the goals.

Turkey kicks off the tournament on Friday with a tough game against Italy in Rome. But if it can avoid a defeat at the Stadio Olimpico, it will be confident of picking up enough points from games against Wales and Switzerland to progress to the knockout stages.

From there, Turkey’s confidence will only grow.

Czech Republic – 101.00 to Win

There may not be quite as many star names in the Czech side these days, but head coach Jaroslav Silhavy has fostered a tremendous team spirit in the squad and there is a genuine belief that the team will improve on a poor showing in 2016 and return the nation to the top table of European soccer.

Euro 2020 qualifying did not start too brightly for the Czech Republic, losing 5-0 at Wembley to England.

But the campaign improved as it went along – including a victory in the return fixture in Prague – and only two more defeats in the next seven games, one in the final fixture against Bulgaria when qualification had already been assured.

The weak spot of the squad is the defense, but Silhavy will be relying on his players to get something from the opening group games against Scotland and Croatia.

So, the final game against England is not as important. Although the Czechs should be able to beat Scotland, the game will be in Glasgow and that means that the midfield lynchpins like Tomas Soucek will need to stamp their authority on proceedings early on.

Since most people will be expecting England and Croatia to take the top spots in Group D, the Czech Republic will be hoping for Scotland to cause its old rival England some problems in what is essentially a local derby – and then overcome a Croatia team that looks past its best.

Finishing at least third in the group should be possible – and then the draw for the round of 16 might be agreeable, depending on how the other groups go.

It is unlikely that the Czech Republic will go much further than the quarterfinal stage, but this is a very underrated group of players that could surprise a few people this summer.

Italy – 11.00 to Win

It feels strange including Italy in an underdogs profile, given the country’s long list of honors at past World Cups and European Championships. But, after failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, it has been a long and humbling road back to the international spotlight for Roberto Mancini’s side.

Italy has finished on the losing side in the final in two of the last five European Championships, but this tournament will be an indicator of whether Mancini has got the Azzurri back to its best or not.

Qualifying was an absolute breeze, as Italy became one of only two countries to win every single game. But the level of competition was not the highest and there are still some that question whether Italy really stands a chance this summer.

The big advantage in Italy’s favor is they will play its three group games against Turkey, Switzerland, and Wales at its own Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

It would be a surprise if it doesn’t progress from that group, but a less than confident performance in the opening game of Euro 2020 against Turkey could have a negative effect on the squad.

Mancini will be looking to Champions League winner Jorginho to control the middle of the pitch and slow things down, while the pace of Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne on either flank should cause defenders of any opponent a decent amount of trouble.

The injury to Marco Verratti that will keep him out of the first two games, at least, is a problem – and either Ciro Immobile or Andrea Belotti will have to repeat their Serie A form up front. But once the group stage is done and dusted, Italy will be in the mood to take on anyone.

Netherlands – 13.00 to Win

The Netherlands is another big hitter in European soccer that has not enjoyed such a stellar time of late. The Oranje failed to qualify for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup in Russia and have a lot to prove, even with a squad full of stars of the European club scene.

One player who will not be taking part in this summer’s tournament is Virgil van Dijk.

He will be missed as much as he was by Liverpool this season and even an all-Serie A pairing of Stefan De Vrij and Matthijs De Ligt in central defense cannot make up for the leadership qualities that van Dijk brings to the team.

The Netherlands finished second in its qualifying group behind Germany but enjoyed an away win over its old rival during the campaign.

And that victory is one that the players will look to as inspiration for the Euros.

The warmup games have not gone quite to plan though. A COVID-depleted Scotland almost came away with a morale-boosting win, before Memphis Depay scored in the 89th minute to salvage a draw.

Depay has now become the main point of attack for the Dutch side, even though he might be remembered by many for his less than impressive stint at Manchester United.

Anyone taking notice of Ligue 1 will know how well he has played more recently though and – with the freedom he is afforded by his teammates – he may well be able to put his many words into action on the pitch.

The Netherlands also has the incredibly talented Frenkie De Jong to help on the attacking side of things – and with the easiest looking group to navigate, it might already be looking to the knockout rounds.

Head coach Frank De Boer has not enjoyed much success of late though, so this tournament could make or break his coaching career.

Poland – 81.00 to Win

After its heyday of the 1970s and early 80s, Poland’s international record has followed a familiar path – qualifying for major tournaments with ease and then failing to do anything of note on the big stage. The quarterfinals of Euro 2016 were reached but it has been an unsuccessful last 40 years apart from that.

After the surprise sacking of Jerzy Brzeczek in January, it has fallen on Paulo Sousa to take Poland deeper into Euro 2020, but he has not enjoyed the smoothest of starts.

There was a 3-3 draw away to Hungary in his first World Cup 2022 qualification game, followed by a 3-0 win over the minnows of Andorra and a defeat at Wembley at the hands of England.

But more worrying was the injury to Robert Lewandowski in that Andorra game. He missed a chunk of the Bundesliga season after that, and Sousa was criticized for playing him at all against such meager opposition.

The Bayern Munich striker is now back for the Euros though – and he will be the main point of attack at the tournament.

There seems to be very little faith in Poland at home before everything kicks off, but it does find itself in an interesting group.

Victory over Slovakia in the first game in St Petersburg looks crucial to Poland’s chances, as they must play Spain in Seville and Sweden back in Russia just four days later. It would seem as though the battle will be between those two for the runners up place.

If Poland can somehow win Group E, they would then play one of the best third placed nations and could think about progressing further in the competition.

There has been major disappointment for the squad in the last few tournaments though, and it does feel like Sousa is being set up as a scapegoat for any failure, so it might come down to Robert Lewandowski to inspire success.

Final Words

Any of these five nations winning the European Championship this summer would be a surprise, but this is a competition that has thrown up enough shocks over the last 30 years to warrant a further look down the list of favorites.

Neither Denmark or Greece was given any chance of success in 1992 and 2004 – and they both went all the way.

The Netherlands and Italy will be treating this tournament as a chance to prove that they can be spoken in the same breath as France, Germany and Spain, so an underlying feeling of unwanted inferiority could also play its part.

But even if none of Turkey, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands or Poland do end up winning Euro 2020, I think they should all be considered when betting on the European Championship. They will all be able to compete in my opinion.

Turkey kicks off the tournament on Friday, so we will get an early taste of how things might go – but I would not be surprised if one of these five does very well this summer.

Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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