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Euro 2021 – How The Contenders Are Shaping Up Ahead Of The Summer

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The European Championships are only two months away and the excitement and tension are slowly reaching a crescendo ahead of the first major tournament since the pandemic hit. As the international break commences, players are finally going to be meeting up with their national team for the first time in four months as they look to fine-tune and prepare their squads ahead of the big prize in the summer. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how all of the squads are shaping up ahead of the summer and who are the favourites to be standing on the top perch in Wembley in July, lifting the trophy.



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The only problem Didier Deschamps seems to have with his France squad at the moment is one of plenty. The talent pool that the World Cup champions possess at this moment is mind-boggling and narrowing it down to a squad of 23 might be as difficult for Deschamps as it would be to win the tournament itself. While he does have a lot of options, his first XI is largely settled as most of the players who won the World Cup in 2018 are still integral to Deschamps’ plans. 

The attack is still spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe alongside castmates Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba and Kante are still his first-choice central midfield partnership despite being in and out of their respective club sides. The only major bone of contention is who partners Raphael Varane in central defence. PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe currently holds down that spot but has competition from Clement Lenglet from Barcelona and the youngster Dayot Upamecano.



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The Spanish squad at the moment seems to be stuck between two eras. The Golden generation that conquered all at the start of the last decade is on its last legs while the new youthful one is still in its infancy. Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets are the only two players who survive that 2010 World Cup victory and Jordi Alba is the only other name you can add to the list from the 2012 Euros. Players like Thiago, Alvaro Morata, Isco and David De Gea that won everything at the youth level failed to translate that with the seniors and hence the baton is now handed over to the next generation of Spanish wonderkids which includes Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres and Pedri.

Spain still have a lot of question marks in their starting XI, none more so upfront and in between the sticks. La Roja could hold their own in the tournament, but the talent pool and quality is nowhere near enough at this moment to compete with the world’s best. 



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Euro 2021 will mark the end of the Joachim Low era with Germany who bids goodbye after over 15 years at the helm. Low’s departure alleviates some pressure for Germany and could be the perfect recipe for the team to give their manager one last swansong. The majority of the team that were part of the disaster in Russia have been phased out and the next generation of talents have been ushered in over the past few years. 

Germany’s front three of Werner, Sane and Gnabry have the potential to be devastating and are incredibly well supported by the midfield trio of Kroos, Gundogan and Kimmich. Add to that mercurial talents like Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala and this German squad could be extremely threatening. While Neuer has had a resurgence in the past couple of seasons the one question mark over this team is in defence, and in particular, who can fill the void left by Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng who are both not in contention at the moment.



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Portugal comes into this tournament as defending champions and with an even better squad than the one that beat France in the final in 2016. Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo is five years older but he might not even fit into their best XI given the array of talent that Portugal possesses.

The trio of Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva have been integral to Manchester City’s title challenge while on the other side of Manchester Bruno Fernandes has arguably been the player of the season in England. They are blessed with real leadership and experience at the back with Pepe and Jose Fonte still performing at the very highest level for their respective clubs Porto and Lille. 

However, the attacking positions are where Portugal have an embarrassment of riches. Joao Felix, Pedro Neto, Andre Silva, Diogo Jota are all playing at the very highest level for their respective clubs and are blessed with speed, trickery and creativity. Add to that the second-highest scorer in the history of international football in Cristiano Ronaldo and it makes Portugal one of the favourites to lift the title.



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This England side might have the best array of attacking talent since 2006, but the jury is still out over the expectations for Gareth Southgate in the summer. Never before have England had such depth of quality in the various attacking positions with the likes of Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all excelling at club level.

Unfortunately, Gareth Southgate’s use of the 3-4-3 has swapped creativity for stability and means only three of his attacking players can make the starting XI. There are also doubts over who will partner Declan Rice in midfield given Jordan Henderson’s injury and the goalkeeping situation is yet to be sorted out. England have also famously struggled against the big sides in major tournaments but with the semis and finals being played in Wembley this time around, there has never been a better chance for the Three Lions to potentially pick up some silverware.


[Image Credit: UEFA EURO 2020]