Euro 2020 outright winner futures picks, predictions and betting preview: Bank on Belgium to bring home the gold
Portugal became the tenth different nation to be crowned European champions with their success at Euro 2016, but their title defense at Euro 2020 has been delayed by a year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Iberians’ 1-0 extra-time success over France in the 2016 final was a team effort and came about despite the massive blow of losing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to a 25th-minute first-half injury.
However, Ronaldo remains hugely influential for Portugal and is the highest-profile player on show this summer despite the presence of other outstanding talents such as Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, France attacker Kylian Mbappe, Belgium’s midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne and England center-forward Harry Kane.
The 24-team, six-group format is the same as five years ago but there will be no defined host or co-hosts, with UEFA taking the opportunity to spread the tournament across Europe.
Thirteen different countries were chosen to stage matches but venues in Ireland and Belgium had to drop out, leaving 11 nations to host a combined total of 51 games. Wembley Stadium, in London, England, is the largest stadium and will host the most games, including both of the semi-finals and the final.
Euro 2020 winner best bet: Belgium (+650)
A good draw can be a massive help when it comes to winning knockout competitions and the Euro 2020 schedule looks favorable for Belgium, who could lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
The Belgians were in the tougher half of the draw at the 2018 World Cup and followed up a superb 3-2 success over Brazil in the quarter-finals with a 1-0 semi-final loss to France just four days later.
It could be argued that the delay to Euro 2020 has worked against the Belgians because key defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen and influential attacker Dries Mertens are a year closer to the end of their careers.
But others like Kevin De Bruyne, Youri Tielemans, Thibaut Courtois, and Romelu Lukaku are in their prime and, while the squad may lack the depth of some others, the first 11 looks very strong.
The Belgians should boss Group B – at the expense of Denmark, Russia, and Finland – and finishing top of the group would avoid having to face either of the top two teams in Group F (by far the strongest section) in the round of 16 and the quarter-finals.
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) June 1, 2021
Group F could spark fear for France
Group F features holders Portugal, France, and Germany as well as lowly Hungary.
Each of Group F’s big guns is capable of going all the way but they are also at risk of an early exit, making them very difficult to bet on with any great confidence.
Whoever finishes second is likely to run into Group D favorites England in the round of 16.
England has a wealth of quality attacking positions and should finish top of their section ahead of Croatia, Czech Republic and Scotland, but their manager, Gareth Southgate, likes to build his teams from solid foundations.
However, England’s first-choice keeper, Jordan Pickford, is error-prone and there is a lack of pace in the center-back positions.
Euro 2020 winner best longshot: Poland (+8000)
The tournament has thrown up a few surprise winners in the fairly recent past with Denmark succeeding at Euro 1992 and Greece lifting the trophy at Euro 2004, and there is scope for some of the more unheralded nations to have a decent run this summer.
Poland’s run to the quarter-finalists five years ago was their best effort at a European Championships and they might fancy their chances of going even further.
Their talisman, Lewandowski, is one of a handful of truly world-class strikers at the tournament and could be the X-factor for the Poles, who have been drawn alongside Spain, Sweden and Slovakia in Group E.
All 41 of Robert Lewandowski's record breaking goals 🤯
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 24, 2021
Other Euro 2020 challengers
Spain is the only team to have won back-to-back European Championships – lifting the trophy in 2008 and 2012 – and cannot be ruled out despite coming to the end of their brightest era.
Luis Enrique’s side qualified in smart enough style – taking 26 points from 10 games – and their strong performance in last autumn’s Nations League included a 6-0 victory at home to Germany.
Italy has had to wait 53 years to add to their triumph on home soil at Euro 68 but might like their chances of a bold show after a favorable draw.
The Azzurri look the pick of the Group A teams alongside Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, and each of their opening three matches take place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
A soft draw could also work in the favor of the Netherlands, which is joined by Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia in Group C.
The Dutch have the benefit of playing each of their group matches in Amsterdam but their chances are massively reduced by the absence of Virgil van Dijk, who has been absolutely key to the improvements made since the Oranje missed out on a place at the 2018 World Cup.
Croatia will also command respect after reaching the 2018 World Cup final but they have suffered over the last three years with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, midfielder Ivan Rakitic and striker Mario Mandzukic withdrawing from the international scene.