clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Euro 2020: The Essential Group Stage Guide

New, comments

We break down each of the six groups including key players and schedules for each squad. Plus, we predict our group winners.

UEFA Euro 2020 Final Draw Ceremony Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Better late than never. It’s an old adage that can be applied to many things in life. And thanks to the global pandemic that dictated the course of 2020, that saying can now be applied to Euro 2020. Europe’s biggest international tournament was slated for June and July of 2020, but that, of course, was impossible with the state of Europe and the world 12 months ago.

Thankfully, things have improved enough in recent months to have the tournament played this June and July. And with fans in the stands to sweeten the deal.

The tournament kicks off from Rome on Friday with Italy hosting Turkey and we’ll have all the coverage here, so what better way to get started than with a brief look at all the teams, schedules, their key players, and some projected group standings.

Group A

Finland v Italy - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier Photo by Antti Yrjonen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Teams: Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales

The Azzurri headline Group A, which opens the tournament with Italy hosting Turkey on Friday, June 11th. It’s a group that sees the host Azzurri as the favorites, but Roberto Mancini’s side cruised through qualifying with a perfect 10-0-0 record and will look to ride that form into the tournament proper. Nevertheless, Italy fields a side that is far from tournament tested.

Meanwhile, the Swiss have an experienced squad that advanced to the round of 16 in World Cup 2018 and Euro 2016. The Welsh were one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 edition of this tournament—advancing all the way to the semifinals before falling to eventual champions Portugal. Rounding out the group is Turkey, which pushed France to the very end in qualifying, finishing with 23 points, just two behind the French. So, even though this group looks to favor the Azzurri, it’ll be far from a cakewalk.

Key Players

Nicolò Barella (Italy): Barella was one of the best players in Serie A this season en route to winning the league’s best midfielder award. Since Inter crashed out of the Champions League early in the competition, he may not be a household name around the continent yet. However, this could be his time to explode onto the international scene and show why he’s arguably the Azzurri’s best outfield player.

Granit Xhaka (Switzerland): After the Swiss midfielder was recently linked with a move to the Giallorossi, Xhaka’s name has been spoken often in Roma circles. Xhaka ranked in the top 90 percentile in Europe’s five big leagues this season in passes attempted, completion percentage, and progressive passes while playing for Arsenal. If he has that kind of success for his national side, he could help the Swiss unlock a stout Azzurri defense.

Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Turkey): Turkey boasts a handful of Serie A talents including Roma’s Cengiz Ünder and Juve’s Merih Demiral. However, Çalhanoğlu, Turkey’s danger man, was one of the most dangerous creative players in Europe’s top five leagues over the last calendar year. While playing for Milan he had 5.76 shot-creating actions per 90 while dishing out nine assists and completing 5.63 progressive passes per 90. He can also strike a dangerous free-kick. Opposing defenses will have to lock him down to slow down the Turks.

Gareth Bale (Wales): Bale is the face of Welsh football. After a disappointing 2019-20 season at Real Madrid, Bale returned to Tottenham in 2020-21. This season, Bale scored better than a goal per 90 minutes (1.08) in just 920 minutes for Spurs. Even at 31-years-old, Bale is still a danger to any defense and could carry the Welsh to an upset of any of the other sides in this group.

Match Schedule

  • 6/11- Italy vs. Turkey (Rome; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/12- Wales vs. Switzerland (Baku; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/16- Turkey vs. Wales (Baku; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/16- Italy vs. Switzerland (Rome; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/20- Italy vs. Wales (Rome; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/20- Switzerland vs. Turkey (Baku; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)

Group Predictions

  1. Italy
  2. Switzerland
  3. Turkey
  4. Wales

Poll

Who will win group A?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Italy
    (653 votes)
  • 3%
    Switzerland
    (25 votes)
  • 5%
    Turkey
    (42 votes)
  • 2%
    Wales
    (21 votes)
741 votes total Vote Now

Group B

Russia v Belgium - EURO 2020 Qualifier Photo by Peter De Voecht / Photonews via Getty Images

Teams: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Russia

The Belgians headline this group after being the only side besides Italy to win all of their qualifying matches. It’s a star-studded side that will look to do better than it did last time around—being upset 3-1 by the Welsh in the quarterfinals. The Belgians also finished 3rd in the 2018 World Cup and will be one of the sides to keep an eye on in this tournament. This is likely the last chance for Belgium’s golden generation to lift a title with much of the group now on the wrong side of 30.

Russia was also strong in qualifying, only falling twice to fellow group mates Belgium. Back in 2018, Russia made the World Cup quarterfinals and will look to build on that success at Euro 2020. The Danes made it through qualifying unbeaten but also drew four times. Denmark didn’t qualify for Euro 2016 but did make it to the quarterfinals of World Cup 2018. Rounding out the group is Finland. Finishing second out of Italy’s group meant the Finns reached their first-ever major tournament. Finland was tough to break down, conceding only 10 goals in 10 qualifying matches. However, they will likely have their work cut out for them in this group.

Key Players

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium): Belgium has plenty of talent. However, Lukaku was recently awarded the Serie A season MVP after scoring 24 goals and providing 11 assists for Inter, making him the easy pick. Lukaku has to be on the shortlist for Golden Boot candidates, especially if Belgium makes a deep run as expected.

Simon Kjær (Denmark): Cristian Eriksen would be many people’s picks here after his second-half turnaround with Inter. However, I’m looking at the Rossonero half of the San Siro at Kjær for this one. Lukaku is the best player in this group and it’ll be up to the veteran Dane to slow him down. It’s a tough ask, but Kjær is coming off a superb season for Milan. The personal Derby della Madonnina should be one to keep an eye on.

Aleksei Miranchuk (Russia): Miranchuk made a January move to Atalanta from Lokomotiv Moscow and immediately rewarded La Dea’s investment. Miranchuk was one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders after his arrival and ranked highly in many attacking categories per 90 minutes in just under 700 minutes played in Serie A. If he can carry that form onto the international stage, his star will grow outside of Bergamo.

Jesse Joronen (Finland): The Finns don’t have any household names, but Joronen comes close—for Serie A fans anyway. The Brescia keeper has Serie A experience and actually performed admirably on last season’s relegation-bound side. Joronen outdid his PSxG by five, and he’ll likely see plenty of shots in this group. So, for the Finns to have any chance, he may have to perform in a similar manner.

Match Schedule

  • 6/12- Denmark vs. Finland (Copenhagen; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/12- Belgium vs. Russia (Saint Petersburg; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/16- Finland vs. Russia (Saint Petersburg; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/17- Denmark vs. Belgium (Copenhagen; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/21- Russia vs. Denmark (Copenhagen; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/21- Finland vs. Belgium (Saint Petersburg; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)

Group Predictions

  1. Belgium
  2. Russia
  3. Denmark
  4. Finland

Poll

Who will win Group B?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Belgium
    (531 votes)
  • 6%
    Denmark
    (37 votes)
  • 2%
    Finland
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    Russia
    (16 votes)
596 votes total Vote Now

Group C

FIFA World Cup 2021 Qualifier”Turkey v The Netherlands” Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Teams: Austria, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Ukraine

At first glance, this group looks to heavily favor the Netherlands. However, just like Italy, this squad has little tournament experience as the Dutch failed to qualify for World Cup 2018 and Euro 2016. It was a rough spell for a traditionally strong side. And they will also be without captain Virgil Van Dijk through injury.

Being in a group without traditional heavyweights could be key for the Dutch to find their tournament footing. Nevertheless, Ukraine can’t be overlooked. The Ukrainians won a qualifying group that included defending champion Portugal with a roster heavy on Shakthar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv players. Meanwhile, Austria and North Macedonia played in the same qualifying group and finished 2nd and 3rd respectively behind Poland. The Austrians Euro 2016 appearance was their first since 2008. This tournament will be North Macedonia’s first-ever since becoming an independent nation ahead of the 1994 World Cup.

Key Players

Stefan De Vrij (Netherlands): With less attacking talent than past tournaments, the Dutch will probably have to be a bit more defensively sound. And with Van Dijk out, the onus falls on Inter’s De Vrij to lead the Dutch backline. The biggest test for him and his compatriots will likely be against Ukraine.

Ruslan Malinovsky (Ukraine): Malinovsky is one of a handful of players on Ukraine’s roster to play outside of their homeland and he was an absolute revelation for Atalanta this season. Since his move last summer, Malinovsky’s numbers per 90 are among the best for attacking midfield players in the big five leagues. His eight goals for La Dea were impressive, but the rate at which he used his progressive passing and progressive carrying to contribute 12 assists was truly impressive.

Marcel Sabitzer (Austria): RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer drew rave reviews after his side defeated Tottenham in the 2019-20 Champions League. He didn’t have as strong of a season in ‘20-’21. But, on a side lacking star power, Sabitzer will have to play well for Austria to have attacking success.

Goran Pandev (North Macedonia): North Macedonia doesn’t have many household names, but Genoa’s Pandev and Napoli’s Elif Elmas will be familiar to Serie A fans. Pandev has been plying his trade on the peninsula since 2003 and despite being 37, he still managed to score seven league goals. As the veteran goes, so will his national side.

Match Schedule

  • 6/13- Austria vs. North Macedonia (Bucharest; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/13- Netherlands vs. Ukraine (Amsterdam; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/17- Ukraine vs. North Macedonia (Bucharest; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/17 Netherlands vs. Austria (Amsterdam; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/21- North Macedonia vs. Netherlands (Amsterdam; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/21- Ukraine vs. Austria (Bucharest; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)

Group Predictions

  1. Ukraine
  2. Netherlands
  3. Austria
  4. North Macedonia

Poll

Who will win Group C?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Netherlands
    (427 votes)
  • 17%
    Ukraine
    (102 votes)
  • 6%
    Austria
    (36 votes)
  • 3%
    North Macedonia
    (19 votes)
584 votes total Vote Now

Group D

England v Croatia - UEFA Nations League A Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Teams: Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Scotland

Featuring World Cup 2018 finalist Croatia and semifinalist England, Group D should be a fun one. The Three Lions enter as one of the co-favorites to win the tournament—according to the betting lines—with one of their most talented sides in some time. England won its qualifying group, losing only once, ironically enough to the Czech Republic 2-1. The English scored 37 goals in their eight qualifiers and conceded just six times.

Despite the loss to the Czechs, Croatia is the biggest threat to English supremacy in Group D. Luka Modric is now 35 but the Croatians have plenty of other talent around the pitch to win this group. The Czechs no longer boast the star power of players like Pavel Nedved and Petr Čech, but the win against England in qualifying shows the Czechs can’t be taken lightly. The Scots enter this one as the likely whipping boys of the group after going only 5-0-5 in qualifying and making the tournament proper by defeating Israel and Serbia on penalties in the play-off. However, an England versus Scotland fixture should be a heated affair given the two nation’s natural rivalry.

Key Players

Harry Kane (England): On an English side chock full of talent, Kane is the biggest star. The Tottenham striker had a mind-blowing season, wracking up 23 goals and 14 assists in the Premier League alone. If he can continue that form in the Euros, then the Three Lions will be tough to beat.

Luka Modric (Croatia): Even at the advanced age of 35 Modric remains a consistent force in the Croatian midfield. This season Modric played over 2,700 league minutes for Real Madrid— the highest total in his nine seasons in the Spanish capital. Modric’s ability to dictate play from the center of the park with his vision and passing could be the key for Croatia.

Patrik Schick (Czech Republic): After a disappointing spell with Roma, Schick has found his footing in the Bundesliga the last two seasons. In this campaign, Schick scored nine goals in 1,866 minutes for Bayer Leverkusen after putting up 10 in 1,298 for Leipzig the previous season. They’re not mind-blowing numbers, and Schick may never be the star Roma fans hoped he could be, but the Czechs will need him scoring to get out of this group.

Scott McTominay (Scotland): Scotland lacks headline talent and McTominay is its most recognizable face. The Manchester United midfield will be tasked with trying to slow players like Modric, Declan Rice, and other stars in this group. It’ll be a big ask, but he’s going to have to hold his own for Scotland to have a chance at getting results.

Match Schedule

  • 6/13- England vs. Croatia (London; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/14- Scotland vs. Czech Republic (Glasgow; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/18- Croatia vs. Czech Republic (Glasgow; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/18- England vs. Scotland (London; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/22- Czech Republic vs. England (London; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/22- Croatia vs. Scotland (Glasgow; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)

Group Predictions

  1. England
  2. Croatia
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Scotland

Poll

Who will win Group D?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    England
    (362 votes)
  • 30%
    Croatia
    (168 votes)
  • 1%
    Czech Republic
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Scotland
    (16 votes)
557 votes total Vote Now

Group E

Teams: Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden

Poland v Andorra - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier Photo by Foto Olimpik/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Spain rolled through Euro qualifying unbeaten with an 8-2-0 record in a group that featured fellow group mate Sweden. Spain no longer has most of the household names from its Golden generation. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make Luis Enrique’s side any less dangerous—just ask the Germans about their 6-0 defeat to Spain in a Nations League match. The Spaniards will be favored to win the group, but they will have some obstacles.

Sweden will be a tough out as always after they racked up 21 points in qualifying. Meanwhile, Poland enters after winning a qualifying group with Austria. The Poles are led by Robert Lewandowski. With the Bayern man leading the line, Poland is always a threat. Meanwhile, Slovakia qualified by breaking Irish hearts by defeating both Northern Ireland and Ireland en route to winning its playoff. However, the Slovaks will have their work cut out for them.

Key Players

Robert Lewandowski (Poland): Lewandowski is probably the world’s premier goal scorer at the moment. He’s coming off a 41 goal campaign for Bayern Munich in just 29 Bundesliga appearances. If Lewandowski is hot then Poland will be a threat.

Milan Škriniar (Slovakia): Serie A fans will be familiar with a few names on the Slovak side including former Napoli captain Marek Hamšík. However, Škriniar will be key for Slovakia. The Inter Milan man will be tasked with stopping Lewandowski, Alvaro Morata, and whoever Sweden starts in Ibra’s absence.

Ferrán Torres (Spain): Spain is ushering in a new generation of talent as just Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets remain from the Golden generation. Torres, who scored seven goals for Man City this year, may be the best of the new generation. For the national side, he’s got six goals in 10 appearances including a hat trick against Germany in a Nations League match. Torres could be poised for a breakout tournament.

Mattias Svanberg (Sweden): With Zalatan Ibrahimovic ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury, we have to look elsewhere on the Swedish side. I’ll point to young midfielder Svanberg. The 22-year-old scored five goals and provided two assists for Bologna this season. Sweden will likely need to score some goals by committee with Zlatan out and Svanberg has shown the ability to do that from the midfield this season.

Match Schedule

  • 6/14- Poland vs. Slovakia (Saint Petersburg; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/14- Spain vs. Sweden (Seville; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/18- Sweden vs. Slovakia (Saint Petersburg; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/19- Spain vs. Poland (Seville; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/23- Slovakia vs. Spain (Seville; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/23- Sweden vs. Poland (Saint Petersburg; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)

Group Predictions

  1. Spain
  2. Poland
  3. Sweden
  4. Slovakia

Poll

Who will win Group E?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Poland
    (107 votes)
  • 0%
    Slovakia
    (5 votes)
  • 71%
    Spain
    (375 votes)
  • 7%
    Sweden
    (37 votes)
524 votes total Vote Now

Group F

Germany v Portugal - Group B: UEFA EURO 2012 Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Teams: France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal

If there was ever a group of death, this is it. Group F features defending World Cup champion and Euro favorite France, defending Euro champion Portugal, and 2014 World Cup winner Germany. This group is stacked.

The French will enter as group favorites, as they boast a plethora of talent around the pitch. They will be tough to beat, but it certainly won’t be a given that they win this group. The biggest threat to them is probably Germany, which won its qualifying group ahead of the Netherlands. The Germans aren’t as dominant as they once were as they continue to rebuild from a disappointing World Cup in 2018. And there are some kinks in the armor as evidenced by a recent loss to North Macedonia in World Cup 2022 qualifying. However, a France-Germany showdown should be a heated affair given the history between the two sides.

It feels like a bit of a disservice to Portugal to talk about them last but that’s just how good this group is. The Portuguese actually finished third in a group with Hungary and Iceland back in 2016 then got hot and ran through the knockout round gauntlet defeating both Germany and France to lift the trophy. They only finished second in their qualifying group behind Ukraine. Nevertheless, if 2016 taught us anything, it’s to not sell Portugal short.

Rounding out the group is Hungary, which advanced to the knockout rounds in 2016 by winning a group with Portugal. They were then throttled by Belgium in the knockout rounds. This side didn’t have as much success in qualifying going just 4-0-4 and advancing to the tournament proper by advancing past Bulgaria and Iceland in the play-offs. The odds will certainly be stacked against Hungary.

Key Players

Kylian Mbappe (France): At just 19 years old, Mbappe was the revelation of the 2018 World Cup when he scored four goals for trophy-winning France. Since his move to PSG, he’s scored goals for fun, including 27 this season while also dishing out seven assists. His pace and scoring ability will be deadly to most sides in this tournament.

Joshua Kimmich (Germany): Kimmich has grown into one of the best central midfielders and a key cog in the Bayern Munich machine over the past few seasons. Kimmich will have to dictate play with his progressive passes (8.82) and carries (8.26), and shot-creating actions (4.88) which rank among the highest rates per 90 for midfielders in Europe’s big five leagues for Germany. Die Mannschaft has shown vulnerability the last few years and will need Kimmich at the top of his game in this difficult group.

Willi Orban (Hungary): Orban, 27-year-old center-back, has blossomed in recent seasons with RB Leipzig. In 2020-2021, Orban emerged as a genuine dual-threat defender for the Bundesliga club, racking up four goals and one assist while making 29 starts in the middle of defense.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): Ronaldo may be getting up there in age, but he’s proving to be timeless as he continues to pile up the stats. He enters this tournament tied with Michel Platini for the most Euro goals all-time with nine. Expect Ronaldo to be hungry to break that record and defend Portugal’s title. As Ronaldo goes, so does Portugal.

Match Schedule

  • 6/15- Hungary vs. Portugal (Budapest; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/15- France vs. Germany (Munich; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/19- Hungary vs. France (Budapest; 9 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. CET)
  • 6/19- Portugal vs. Germany (Munich; noon ET, 6 p.m. CET)
  • 6/23- Germany vs. Hungary (Munich; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)
  • 6/23- Portugal vs. France (Budapest; 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CET)

Group Predictions

  1. France
  2. Germany
  3. Portugal
  4. Hungary

Poll

Who will win Group F?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    France
    (353 votes)
  • 16%
    Germany
    (90 votes)
  • 2%
    Hungary
    (16 votes)
  • 18%
    Portugal
    (101 votes)
560 votes total Vote Now

Stick with us over the next month as we follow Euro 2020, focusing mainly on Italy but we'll track the tournament from begging to end.