Exploring Portugal’s chances in Euro 2020
When you think of the Portuguese national team, it’s hard not to think of Cristiano Ronaldo. The 35 year old has had an exceptional career, putting him in talks for one of the best footballers to ever grace the pitch. Unfortunately, his Portugal side had left much to be desired in the past international competitions until recent events, starting off with the EURO 2016 competition.
One large criticism of the Portuguese national team in past years is their lack of balance throughout the side, having to play a pragmatic style of football to cover up their defensive deficiencies. This style took away from their key attackers such as Nani, Ronaldo and Quaresma. Many pundits have sympathised with CR7 for his nation’s inability to win a national trophy. In decades prior, we have seen some serious players rock the dark red colours of the Portugal jersey such as Deco, Figo, Pepe, Nani, Quaresma and Ronaldo of course. Yet the nation had not seen an international achievement since a silver runners up medal in the 2004 European championships. This was a shocking return for such a talented footballing nation and things had to change, as they did in the Euros of 2016. An under-looked Portuguese team had a rocky road to the final, having to come back on 3 occasions against a determined Hungary to draw 3-3 and with the majority of knockout games decided by the fine margins of a goal or in extra time. Added to this, their main talisman Ronaldo was injured just 25 minutes into the final, yet they still managed to claim victory. Since this triumph, the Portugal team has grown stronger still, winning the Nations League in 2018 which saw them dispose of an adept and experienced Netherlands side which consisted of players enduring standout seasons such as Van Dijk, De ligt, De Jong etc.
Seleção fans may have something to look forward to in this Euro 2020 competition after seeing their team strengthen in the last decade or so. Despite CR7 being 35 years old, Portugal are still a more than capable team with a plethora of attacking ability. Bruno Fernandes who recently completed a £65million move to Man Utd in the latter stages of the winter transfer window is a player whose growth has been an eyeful for football fans. He will be such a key player for the Portugal side this European championship more so than in the Nations League.
In the 17/18 season (the season before the nations league took place), Bruno Fernandes statistics were impressive. 16 goals and 20 assists for Sporting CP from the box to box midfielder role was and is a great feat. He then went on to achieve 32 goals and 18 assists the following season, showing glimpses of the goal scoring midfielder we saw in the likes of Lampard. He currently has 15 goals and assists each at the halfway mark of this season, which shows the consistency and class that Fernandes retains. With Ronaldo aging, Bruno Fernandes will be a key component in the Portugal team as they will look to him to chip in with goals and assists in the upcoming Euro championships in a bid to take some of the responsibility off of the 35 year old.
While Bernardo Silva’s statistics may not be as impressive, stats don’t tell the full story with this tenacious player. His game brings a ferocious press and key decision making in the final third. His versatility and experience is enough to also ease some of the burden of carrying the team off of Ronaldo. There are many more honourable mentions within this side such as goalkeeper Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves, Joao Felix, Nelson Semedo, Joao Cancelo and more who are playing within top teams in Europe’s top 5 leagues. The balance of competent attackers and defenders could see the side flourish now more than ever
Portugal have been growing stronger as a team due to the numerous individual talent across the field. Therefore it can be said that they are more equipped now than ever before to retain their European champions title. Nevertheless, teams around them have strengthened too and with recent World Cup winners France and Germany in their group, any slip ups could make it a struggle for Portugal to even make it out their group of death.
By Chris A
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions have put on an attacking display in the last 18 months, scoring 37 goals in the European qualifiers which saw some impressive results. Big scorelines such as a 7-0 win over Montenegro and a 6-0 win over Bulgaria saw England cruise through the majority of the qualifying matches. With the rise of creative outlets such as Jadon Sancho and Trent Alexander-Arnold, the quality and quantity of competent youngsters in Southgate’s arsenal for the Euro 2020 competition are mind-blowing. The pair of them have a staggering 25 goal contributions in 19 games, and 10 assists for Dortmund and Liverpool respectively. This could prove an unstoppable attacking force on the right hand side for the upcoming European Championships. Nonetheless, recent events in the Premier League could lead to a crisis for Southgate as he sees a handful of his best attackers either injured or suffering a run of poor form.
Harry Kane is the Three Lions captain and 6th ever highest top goal scorer. He also won the World Cup golden boot in the summer of 2018 but is currently out with a hamstring injury which sees him out for two more months until April. With the Premier league season finishing in May and the European championships starting in June, Harry Kane’s fitness will be a big worry for Southgate and many other Three Lions fans as we approach Euro 2020.
To add to their woes, Marcus Rashford who has been the teams top scoring player from the wide positions, is currently out with a back injury, restricting him to the injury table for another 3-4 weeks. The 22 year old who broke his own personal best of 10 goals in a 38 game season, was on route to a season for the history books donning 14 goals and 4 assists in only 22 games. 18 goal contributions at the halfway mark of the Premier League season from the youngster would have given England an astounding outlet on the left hand side for the upcoming Euro 2020 competition, amplifying their chances of bettering the stage they reached in the World Cup not too long ago. Southgate could be left scratching his head with his former number one striker, Jamie Vardy (who is currently in the golden boot position in the Premier League) in retirement from international football. Matters worsen as Callum Wilson and Tammy Abraham both exhibit poor form and unless they are able to display the ability that they are known to have, the onus could be on Rashford and Kane to shake off their injury rust and lead the Three lions from the front once more.
Since the World Cup, Southgate’s young England squad appear to be going from strength to strength, putting on top performances in the Euro 2020 qualifiers and the UEFA Nations League tournament. However, this does not guarantee a strong Euro 2020 competition as bumps materialise is Southgates road to European glory. With formidable opponents such as the World Cup Winning France side and Nations League runners up Netherlands (who eliminated the England Squad on their course to the finals), it seems like the Three Lions would have much benefitted by having a fully fit squad.
By Chris A
Why is this year’s Euros so special? The Euros 2020s are being held in 12 different cities between 12 June to 12 July 2020. Portugal are the current champions of Euro 2016.
There are 20 teams that have qualified for this year’s Euro 2020, 17 of the teams are returning once again after competing in Euro 2016. The countries qualified this year include Belgium, Italy, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, France, Turkey, England, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Croatia, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark and Wales.
The 12 stadiums include: Wembley Stadium – London, England. Allianz Arena – Munich, Germany. Stadio Olimpico – Rome, Italy. Olympic Stadium – Baku, Azerbaijan. Krestovsky Stadium – Saint. Petersburg, Russia. Arena Nationala – Bucharest, Romania. Johan Cruyff Arena – Amsterdam, Holland. Aviva Stadium – Dublin, Ireland. San Mames – Bilbao, Spain. Puskás Arena – Budapest, Hungary. Hampden Park – Glasgow, Scotland. Parken Stadium – Copenhagen, Denmark.
Expect this will be an exciting tournament, if you want to witness some of the greatest players in the world at Euro 2020, please inquire now for tickets email@example.com