, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times

Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021

The Euros are finally here and such is the strength in depth at this tournament it is tough to call who will be crowned champions. Nevertheless, we have given it a go.

Plus, we have asked our pool of football writers to predict how England, Scotland and Wales will get on.

Do you agree with their predictions? Get involved and have your say in the comments section below…

Who will win the tournament?

Jason Burt: France have to be clear favourites. They have a wonderfully-talented squad and a battle-hardened pragmatic coach. It is a winning formula.

Sam Wallace: France to win it on man-for-man quality. There is, however, something about Karim Benzema’s return that does make me wonder if the esprit de corps is as strong as it might be.

Oliver Brown: France. The world champions’ squad was already absurdly strong, but the recall of Benzema after a six-year exile makes them close to unbeatable.

Matt Law: Genuinely no idea! This tournament is harder to call than any other I’ve covered. There are no outstanding favourites and it feels wide open.

John Percy: Belgium. France may be the favourites but I believe Belgium’s squad is at a perfect moment to win.

Mike McGrath: Belgium have the experience and talent to go all the way in the final chance for their golden generation.

Sam Dean: France. The world champions have the best defence, the best midfield and the most dangerous attack.

Chris Bascombe: France. They won the World Cup playing defensive and relying on the blistering counter-attacks of Kylian Mbappe. Benzema strengthens them.

, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times


Karim Benzema (left) is back in the France fold


Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

Jeremy Wilson: Impossible to look past this current French generation, with their strength in midfield and variety of attacking options.

Luke Edwards: France have the best squad and are reigning world champions. They should win it but that does not mean they will. England could win it, but probably will not.

Jim White: France. The power and depth of Didier Deschamps’s squad is unmatched. Besides, any team with N’Golo Kante starts with an inbuilt advantage. 

How will England do?

Jason Burt: They can make it all the way to the final… although I fear for that last-16 encounter with the runners-up from the ‘Group of Death’ (Group F).

Sam Wallace: Neck on the line and I am going to say losing finalists. Which would mean beating Portugal, Spain and Turkey in the knockout rounds – on my predictor. A bold call.

Oliver Brown: Round of 16. So concentrated is the competition, it can be more difficult to go deep at the Euros than at the World Cup.

Matt Law: The defence is a concern which makes me worry that England will not make it past the quarter-finals, which would be viewed as a failure.

John Percy: Semi-final defeat due to their defensive deficiencies but will again underline the progress under Gareth Southgate.

Mike McGrath: Finishing second in the group will give them a good draw and could reach the semi-finals again with their pace up front.

Sam Dean: Gareth Southgate’s side will win their group before losing in controversial circumstances (and/or on penalties) in the first knockout round.

Chris Bascombe: They’ll lose as soon as they face a decent team, which might be in the last 16 or semi-final depending on the luck of the draw.

Jeremy Wilson: Much will depend on how the draw pans out but, assuming they get past a potentially hazardous last-16 match, a run to the final is feasible.

Luke Edwards: As Southgate has said, anything less than a semi-final will be a failure and that is where I think they will get to, possibly even losing finalists.

Jim White: Provided they can avoid France en route, they have sufficient attacking zest, plus expertise at set-pieces, to make it to the final. 

How will Scotland do?

Jason Burt: Quarter-finals are possible. They can finish runners-up in their group which could set up a tie against Sweden or Poland. But after that may be a step too far.

Sam Wallace: First ever advance to the second round of a major international tournament via third-place qualification. Beaten by Spain. Satisfaction back home.

Oliver Brown: Group phase. Steve Clarke has introduced greater resilience to his team, but England, Croatia and the Czech Republic are likely to crush hopes of further advancement.

Matt Law: Scotland could qualify from the group stages with England. They have some good players and Clarke has the team well organised.

John Percy: Never write off Clarke, one of Europe’s most under-rated coaches, but if they sneak out of the group stage that will be a huge achievement.

, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times


Steve Clarke (right) is one of Europe’s most under-rated coaches


Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Mike McGrath: Out of their group after getting at least a win against one of their three opponents, then a penalty shootout in the second round.

Sam Dean: Unexpected off-field chaos will rip the wind from Scotland’s sails and they will ultimately finish last in Group D.

Chris Bascombe: Could surprise a few in the group stage based on the usual underdog formula of a well-organised defence. They’ll win one of their first two games.

Jeremy Wilson: Their opening match against the Czech Republic will be critical. Will perform well but narrowly miss out on the knockout phase.

Luke Edwards: They need to not focus all their attention on the England game but they could easily reach the round of 16.

Jim White: In a first for Scotland, they will qualify from the group. Further progress will depend on getting as lucky with the draw as England in 2018.

How will Wales do?

Jason Burt: Unfortunately I fear they will struggle to get out of their group. Does not feel like a team that can perform as in 2016. Bottom place.

Sam Wallace: Third place in the group and a second-round defeat, to France. They have got a difficult group, though.

Oliver Brown: Group phase. Yes, they electrified Euro 2016, but this is a limited side on paper. Their two stars, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, are clearly struggling for form.

Matt Law: Tough to say – I probably haven’t watched Wales since they played England in the last Euros in 2016.

John Percy: A far tougher group than perhaps envisaged, finishing second is the best they can hope for.

Mike McGrath: Will find it tough to get out of a tough group in a tournament where their manager is at home.

Sam Dean: With Bale leading the way, Rob Page’s side will make it as far as the quarter-finals before falling to a dignified defeat.

, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times


Wales’ hopes will depend on the form of Gareth Bale (right)


Credit: PA

Chris Bascombe: The first match against Switzerland is their final. Win that and they have a fighting chance of the last 16. Lose and it’s over in the group stage.

Jeremy Wilson: Have regressed since reaching the semi-finals five years ago. Still have match-winning players still but unlikely to get past their group.

Luke Edwards: Should be good enough to get out of their group but will lose to the first really good team they face in the knockout phase.

Jim White: They should make it to the last 16. Beyond that is entirely down to Bale’s form. 

Read more: Euro 2021 teams, player lists and rankings of all 24 countries

The dark horses will be…

Jason Burt: Not sure they count as dark horses, but Italy. Got the balance right. Denmark also could go far, as could Ukraine.

Sam Wallace: Turkey could make it through to the semi-finals. A strong side even if results can be volatile.

Oliver Brown: North Macedonia. They produced one of the great European shocks by beating Germany in March and have two beatable group-stage opponents in Austria and Ukraine.

Matt Law: Turkey could surprise a few, while the Czech Republic will be tougher opponents for England than people are expecting.

John Percy: Turkey. They have a nice blend of youth and experience, plus one of the most uncompromising defences at the tournament.

Mike McGrath: Denmark are no strangers to Euro surprise and they have quality in their squad from front to back.

Sam Dean: Poland. Robert Lewandowski is the best centre-forward in world football and his goals will fire them into the knockout stages.

Chris Bascombe: Italy. No longer fancied above France, Germany, Spain or Belgium, you still wouldn’t want to play them in the knockout phase.

, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times


Italy are many people’s dark horses


Credit: AFP

Jeremy Wilson: Switzerland have a decent draw and are on a run of six straight wins after reaching the knockout phase of the latest two tournament under Vladimir Petkovic.

Luke Edwards: Holland. There is always a team that heads into a tournament apparently out of form and in crisis, but the Dutch are dangerous and very, very talented.

Jim White: Denmark. They have snuck up unnoticed to win it before in 1992, and, as then, have a Schmeichel in goal.

The team I am most looking forward to watching is…

Jason Burt: North Macedonia. Always good to have newbies in a tournament and few teams will be as committed. They also recently beat Germany.

Sam Wallace: England. Injuries and the challenges of pandemic football make their form so hard to call. Yet this is the reality now for so many. How do they handle the expectation? How do they even line up?

Oliver Brown: Italy. They are notoriously slow tournament starters, but I am fascinated to see the effect of the ever-quirky Roberto Mancini.

Matt Law: North Macedonia. Iceland were the team of 2016 and it will be great to see how North Macedonia get on at a major tournament.

, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times


Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski (left) plays for North Macedonia


Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

John Percy: Belgium. They have the potential to really make a mark at these Euros. For behind-the-sofa reasons, watching England is always a joy too.

Mike McGrath: France, to see if Deschamps can get this squad of superstars to form a winning team again like they did at the World Cup.

Sam Dean: Portugal. There is so much technical quality in the squad, but how will it all fit together? In a tough group, they could either explode or implode.

Chris Bascombe: Belgium. One of the few teams whose main ambition will be to attack and score. The negativity of most coaches could make it an otherwise dull spectacle.

Jeremy Wilson: Incredible to think that Scotland have not been at a major tournament since 1998 and their return to this stage will be one of the most fascinating narratives

Luke Edwards: Belgium once again. The defence looks a bit dodgy but going forward they are as good as any side in the tournament

Jim White: North Macedonia. With a population smaller than Birmingham, this is a country kicking well above its weight. They beat Germany in the World Cup too.

The top scorer will be…

Jason Burt: Lukaku. Belgium have a trickier group than it looks – not least because they play two ‘host’ nations – but will score goals. Harry Kane may push, too.

Sam Wallace: Mbappe.

Oliver Brown: Benzema. Lethal for Real Madrid, even when he was in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow, and has a point to prove after a prolonged international exclusion.

Matt Law: Timo Werner. It probably won’t be, but it would be a great story wouldn’t it?

John Percy: Lukaku, just edging out Kane.

Mike McGrath: Lukaku has been previously criticised by Belgium fans but he is in the form of his life and will get on the end of chances.

, Euro 2020 predictions: Our experts’ verdicts – from tournament winners to top scorers for 2021, Nzuchi Times


Romelu Lukaku (centre) is being tipped for the Golden Boot


Credit: AP

Sam Dean: Holland’s Memphis Depay could score a bucket-load of goals in the group stages.

Chris Bascombe: Mbappe looks a good bet.

Jeremy Wilson: Kane’s consistency and clear status as England’s main striker gives him the edge over Lukaku and a French team who are more likely to share their goals.

Luke Edwards: If England can reach the semi-finals again, it could easily be Kane.

Jim White: Kane. In a harsh parody of his entire career, he will win an individual award but fail to pick up the major silverware.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do you think England, Scotland and Wales will get on at the Euros? And who do you think will be crowned champions? Join the debate in the comments below…

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