The 2020 European Championship is well underway across the pond— odds-on favorite France has not been the juggernaut that it was expected to be while Italy and Belgium have soared in the power rankings and are now seen as presumptive champions by many.
Every group has produced its own theatre and storylines thus far, making this one of the more interesting starts to an international tournament in recent history.
European Championship Groups
The Italians are the only team that has officially advanced to the knockout stage, finishing group play with nine points, seven goals scored, and zero goals allowed. Italy has a brilliant mix of pace, skill, youth, and experience in its roster and has not lost a game since 2018.
Switzerland and Wales both sit on four points with the latter ahead on goal difference; the Swiss have a chance to advance as one of the four third-place teams, though that will not be determined until other groups have completed their matches.
Turkey was seen as a dark horse in this tournament due to the physicality of their defense and goal-scoring potential of the frontline, but they bow out with zero points and only one goal scored. The margin with which they missed their target makes them the biggest disappointment in the group stage, regardless of what happens in the rest of the matches.
The Belgians are full steam ahead with impressive displays against Russia and Denmark. Kevin de Bruyne, Axel Witsel, and Eden Hazard made their returns to the lineup last week, and the “Golden Generation” has a serious chance to capture their county’s first international hardware.
Denmark lost Christian Eriksen in the first match after he collapsed mid-game and is yet to score a point, so advancing is unlikely. Russia and Finland each have a game in hand, but the 2018 fourth-place finishers would be the favorites to advance by virtue of their matchup with Denmark compared to Finland’s clash with Belgium. If either team should lose, they would finish on three points and be on the verge of elimination.
The Netherlands leads the way with six points and has looked very impressive moving forward despite concerns of their five-at-the-back system. They threw a 2-0 lead away to Ukraine in the opener but had the resolve to score a third and secure all of the points at stake.
Ukraine and Austria are level on points and goal difference and will face each other in their final match of the group stage, meaning that it is all to play for between the two of them.
North Macedonia has scored two goals at this tournament— two more than they had in their entire history at the Euros— but are yet to record a point and seem to be on their way out.
In a shocking display, the Czech Republic has seized control atop the group’s standings with four points and a +2 goal differential, compared to England’s four points and +1 goal difference. The Czechs have one of the tournament’s most productive goal-scorers in Patrik Schick leading the line and have completely reversed their poor pre-tournament form.
England was one of the favorites to win the competition leading into the first kick but looks lifeless in the attacking third and has only produced one goal so far.
Croatia and Scotland are tied at the bottom with one point each and play each other Tuesday morning— a tie would essentially send both teams home, while an outright victory for either side could get them over the line, depending on the results of the other groups.
Sweden leads Group E with another shocking set of performances, first tying Spain with only 15% possession during the game and later taking down Slovakia behind Emil Forsberg’s penalty kick.
The same Slovakia team won their opener against Poland and sit in second place with three points, one ahead of a Spanish team that has played slow and unenergetic football thus far.
Poland and record-breaking goal-scorer Robert Lewandowski round out the group in last but are still alive with one point and an impending matchup with Sweden.
France is the only team with four points in this group, ironically by beating Germany but only tying a lesser-tier Hungary team that played hungry and desperate for a point. France has the most talented attacking line in the tournament and the overall best squad, though they have not lived up to the expectations that they were given after dominantly winning the 2018 World Cup.
Germany and Portugal sit in second and third with the Germans owning the tiebreaker, having recently defeated the Portuguese 4-2 at the Allianz Arena. Left wing-back Robin Gosens was the standout player on the pitch with one goal and two assists in that contest, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored his third goal of the tournament and tied Schick for the tournament lead.
Hungary was dealt a tough draw with this group but has played both of their opponents tough and have claimed one point so far: they need a win against Germany to have a chance to advance.
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Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.
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