The countdown for Euro 2020 can finally begin after it was revealed which sides will be facing who at next summer’s showpiece event. The draw was made last Saturday, in Bucharest and defined how the groups will unveil.
The competition will feature 12 host cities to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the tournament. The semi-finals and final will both be held at Wembley Stadium, with the latter of those taking place on the 12th July.
Besides the 20 teams already directly qualified, there are still 4 places left. The last picks will come through a playoff that will be played in March.
So, without further ado, check out which sides will already plot their route to success in the European Championships. Here’s how each group is looking before the playoff fixtures are played.
Kick-off in Rome with Italy playing Turkey
Italy would have been happy with their reward for a perfect qualifying campaign as they were drawn against Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales. The Italians won all ten of their qualifiers and only conceded four goals in the process.
They will open the competition in Rome against Turkey, who were an interesting watch as they finished second behind France in the qualifiers.
Switzerland will face Wales in the other fixture of the group. The Welsh will be looking to emulate their run to the semi-finals in Euro 2016. The battle for a second-place finish could be one to watch as all four teams have fair chances of progressing.
Debutants Finland with Belgium, Russia, and Denmark
World Cup semi-finalists Belgium has been handed a favorable draw for the competition as they will take on Russia, Finland, and Denmark.
The competition will mark the first time that Finland has qualified for a major competition, and much of that was down to the goalscoring exploits of Teemu Pukki.
Belgium will enter the competition as one of the favorites having won all ten of their qualifiers and scored 40 goals in the process. They will face Russia in their opening fixture, who also have a boosted morale after a successful World Cup 2018 campaign, that took them till quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Denmark will likely be led by Christian Eriksen, who will boss their midfield, with Leicester’s keeper Kasper Schmeichel trying to imitate the feat of his father Peter, who won the trophy in 1992.
The Netherlands gets a favorable draw
The Netherlands would have breathed a sigh of relief as they were drawn alongside Austria and top seeds Ukraine. The fourth side in this group is still to be decided, due to playoffs uncertainty. Still, it will be between Iceland, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Belarus, Hungary or Georgia.
The first confirmed fixture in the group will see the Netherlands take on Ukraine in what is sure to be a captivating fixture in Amsterdam. Ukraine ended the qualifying round above the reigning European champions Portugal. The team, led by legend Schevchenko, ended their campaign undefeated.
Meanwhile, the Dutch have a young generation led by De Ligt, De Jong and Donyell Malen upfront, with the experience of Virgil Van Dijk. Austria’s strength is the fullbacks, but Alaba and Lazaro might not be enough to keep their defense steady.
England and Croatia face off once again
It will be a familiar battle between two rivals from the World Cup in Group D as England and Croatia will square off for the fourth time in two years.
England only lost once in their qualifying group and will begin the competition as one of the favorites as they will play the majority of their fixtures on home turf.
However, their only defeat was against the Czech Republic, who was drawn with them in the same group.
The Three Lions will begin their competition against Croatia, finalist of the last World Cup. Will England be able to revenge that semifinal defeat in Russia?
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic will play the team that qualifies from Path C of the playoffs. That will be between Scotland, Israel, Norway or Serbia.
Lewandowski and Piatek against the Spanish Armada
Spain and Sweden will once again meet after being paired up for the main competition as well as the qualifying round. Spain came out on top in the qualifiers but failed to beat the Swedes in Stockholm.
Those two sides will open the group’s fixtures, while Poland will square off against the other side that is yet to be decided.
The fourth team in the group will be either the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Bosnia or Slovakia.
Poland will present stern opposition for the second spot in this group having lost just once in the qualifying phase. They are led by Robert Lewandowski, who is on absolute fire this season with already 10 goals in 5 Champions League games and 27 overall.
Meanwhile, Spain will bring a revamped team with players like Fabian Ruiz and Ceballos. However, the managerial changes, with Moreno dropping after the qualification to bring back Luis Enrique might affect the team spirit.
Group of Death places the holders against the World Cup champions
It is certainly a case of saving the best for last. Group F has already been lamented as the ‘hardest group of all-time’.
This group contains the reigning European champions, Portugal the reigning World champions, France and the 2014 World Cup champions, Germany.
It’s impossible to call this group at this stage, but you would hazard a guess that the fourth side to join Germany, France and Portugal will have very slim hopes of progression.
That side will be between Iceland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Georgia, Kosovo, and Belarus.
Portugal will face the unannounced team in their opening fixture, while Germany and France will square off to close matchday one in Munich.
Will the French get revenge for the Paris final in 2016 against Cristiano Ronaldo and company? Or will Portugal’s coach Fernando Santos bring back Eder to haunt them again?
As for Germany, although they are not the strong side they were in 2014, they still boost some incredible talent, with Havertz and Gnabry being two to watch. Meanwhile, it will likely be the last tournament for Thomas Muller with the Mannschaft, so he probably will try to put on a show.