Euro 2021 Favourites: The Main Candidates To Win
After being postponed for a year due to the whole situation generated from the global pandemic that occurred in 2020, UEFA Euro 2021 is a few days away from starting with all the expectations that this tournament usually generates. As in all football tournaments, there is usually a small group of teams that, due to their players and recent performances, look like candidates to win the competition. We will talk about the Euro 2021 Favourites here in this post.
The Most Performing Candidates in Euro 2021
Now we are going to highlight the main favourite national teams of the UEFA Euro 2021 tournament, considering the squads selected by the respective managers, which in some cases is decisive, such as the controversial list of players chosen by Luis Enrique from the Spain national team or Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury with Sweden or Dominik Szoboszlai’s with Hungary, which ends up changing the expectations of these national teams.
To talk about favourites in a tournament, you always have to start with the last champion who, it should be noted, was a surprise in the previous edition of the Euro, in which they demonstrated a solid and very good ability to counterattack, ending up with them winning the competition. They were not favourites back then, but they certainly are now.
Portugal’s project with Fernando Santos at the helm has maintained the same playing style for seven years, making them such a competitive team in recent years and several players such as Pepe, José Fonte, Joao Moutinho or Cristiano Ronaldo has been essential in Santos’ team during his time as Portugal’s manager and they are still a key part in the current squad for this competition.
These players are going to provide leadership for young people who should start to take over, such as Rúben Dias, André Silva, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes or Diogo Jota. Portugal’s work at the youth level is very good and that has allowed them to develop very good players who have reached important clubs in Europe that allows them to maintain the competitiveness of one of the Euro 2021 favourites to win this competition.
- Check out the post about Who Will Become the UEFA Euro 2021 Top Scorer.
We have to see if Santos is to develop his playing style to favour some talented players such as the aforementioned or if he will remain attached to that more defensive style that has characterized him in recent years.
For Spaniard manager Roberto Martínez and this current Belgian side, this seems to be the last or perhaps the second to last train to achieve an important title for what has been an important generation in Belgian football. Except for a few exceptions such as Tielemans, Castagne, Praet, or Doku, most of the selection for Euro 2021 is the basis of what the footballers who have played in recent international tournaments for Belgium.
Martínez proposes a 3-4-3 tactical setup with a clearly offensive vocation, with an open game that favours the talented players has such as Lukaku, Carrasco, Hazard (Eden and Thorgan), Mertens or De Bruyne since it gives them spaces to move and be dangerous.
However, that same open game is what allows the rivals to counterattack them since the central midfielders have a box to box profile and not so much of defensive midfielders. Likewise, one of the wing-backs is usually a winger who plays forward as in the case of Carrasco and this leads to the defenders being somewhat unprotected.
Still, they are quite seasoned and talented side, which is something that we should always take into account.
This will be manager Joachim Low’s last tournament at the helm of Die Mannschaft. He has been the visible face of a project that began after the nation’s elimination in the first round at Euro 2000 and that served as a turning point for this national team as it brought with it a structural change in German football, which reached its highest point in 2014 when they have crowned world champions in Brazil.
As per usual, Germany brings a very competitive team to Euro 2021, although the question remains on whether Low will give priority to new players in the starting eleven or will maintain the core of recent years with the likes of Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos or Mats Hummels. In the goalkeeper department, barring a surprise, Neuer will remain, being the winner in that media duel with Marc-André ter Stegen. In defence, it is where the greatest amount of changes are coming since it is the area where the selection has changed the most.
In midfield and attack, there are many and very good options, although it is interesting how he could handle the situation of two players who were recently UEFA Champions League champions: Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. They are both young and talented yet they did not end up having a good first season at Chelsea FC despite Havertz scoring the winning goal in the continental tournament final. It remains to be seen if Low decides to give them the confidence that Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has given them or if he will opt for other of the very good alternatives that he has in those positions.
If there is a favourite among the favourites, it has to be the world champions whose team maintains a very high level of quality and that for this competition add a luxurious and unexpected “reinforcement”, Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid striker is the cherry on the cake on a France side that has the talent to spare in all positions and that, with a call-up of 26 players (a special situation for this tournament), has left out world-class players.
- Read related article: Euro 2021 Power Rankings: Part I
Manager Didier Deschamps usually uses a 4-3-3 in which the attack is expected to be made up of Benzema himself, Griezmann and Mbappé, 3 of the best attackers in world football who play in 3 of the top teams in Europe, which works as a great example of this team’s might. Far from being unbalanced by considering the attack they have in the story, in midfield they have N’Golo Kanté, possibly the best defensive midfielder today.
Perhaps the only “weak point” of the France national team may be the goalkeeper since Deschamps is unlikely to try another option other than Hugo Lloris, which, without being a bad player, has a degree of inconsistency that goes from impressive saves to some avoidable mistakes, which is something that could harm Deschamps team.
As an interesting fact, three of the Euro 2021 favourites that we mentioned are in the same group, although due to the format for this edition of the tournament, where the first two of each group and the best four third parties qualify for the Round of 16, it is possible that the three will go to the next round.
The four selected teams have more developed projects than national teams such as Spain, Italy, England or Netherlands that, traditionally, are usually considered among the Euro 2021 favourites but that currently have projects that are in transition points, which does not mean that they cannot surprise people in the Euro 2021.
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