Connect with us

Serie A

Euro 2020 predictions: Champion, biggest flop, top scorer, and more

With Euro 2020 just one day away, theScore’s footy editors are breaking out the crystal balls and offering up some predictions for the tournament.

Most excited about …

Michael J. Chandler: The abundance of dark horses participating in a tournament that could be rife with surprises. Denmark, Turkey, and Ukraine are among a slew of largely uncelebrated sides entering Euro 2020 with legitimate hopes of making a deep run. In the wake of domestic leagues throwing up shock results, it’s not unthinkable that the same could occur in an international tournament.

Anthony Lopopolo: The group of death. We are guaranteed three top-tier matches in the first week-and-a-half of the tournament, with 2018 World Cup winner France facing 2014 champion Germany, Euro holder Portugal later meeting Germany, and France rounding out play against Portugal in a rematch of the 2016 final. All three teams could make the next round, with four of the six third-place finishers advancing to the knockout stage. So there’s no need to worry about losing some of the tournament’s biggest stars early on. Just enjoy the show.


Gianluca Nesci: The thrill of an international tournament. After grinding through the slog that was the recent club season, Euro 2020 should provide a welcome breath of fresh air for fans desperate for a change of pace. Even if the football itself isn’t scintillating – which, to be honest, is a distinct possibility considering the workload on the players – the kind of tension and excitement you can only get from a major international competition will offset that.

Daniel Rouse: There’s something magical about the sight of a player taking center stage for his country after struggling during the club season. Guillermo Ochoa was a sensation in goal for Mexico at the 2014 World Cup after being released by relegated French side Ajaccio, and Wales’ Hal Robson-Kanu was heroic at Euro 2016 after a goal-shy campaign in England’s second tier. Who will drastically change the course of his career this year?

Breakout star

Chandler: Alexander Isak. Sweden’s Isak’s 17 La Liga goals played a big role in Real Sociedad’s fifth-place finish in Spain, and at Euro 2020, the 21-year-old forward will be relied upon to fill the gargantuan boots left by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence. Expect Isak to get on the end of more than one of Sebastian Larsson’s pinpoint dead-ball deliveries as the Swedes look to progress from a Group C primed for upset results.

Lopopolo: Donyell Malen. The Netherlands needs production from someone other than Memphis Depay to make any kind of impact at the Euros. Enter Malen, PSV Eindhoven’s 22-year-old hotshot who took the Dutch Eredivisie by storm last season with 19 goals and eight assists in 32 appearances. Malen’s a strong passer and dribbler, and he should find a way to break down stubborn blocks of four. That will come in handy against Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Austria, who will likely defer possession to the Netherlands in Group C play.

Soccrates Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Nesci: Manuel Locatelli. There’s a reason the spindly Sassuolo midfielder is being linked with a big-money transfer this summer. His varied skill set has caught the attention of the continent’s top clubs, and the Italian has a great opportunity to open even more eyes. With Marco Verratti’s fitness in question – of course it is – the 23-year-old should see plenty of playing time as part of an excellent midfield trio for Italy.

Rouse: Phil Foden. This is definitely a case of picking the low-hanging fruit given Foden’s huge reputation in England, but it’s time for the rest of Europe to salivate over the playmaker’s incredible technical ability, unbridled confidence, and vision. The 21-year-old has also developed a reputation for scoring important goals following a sensational season with Manchester City.

Biggest flop

Chandler: Netherlands. Imagine having faith in a side managed by Frank de Boer – Inter Milan, Crystal Palace, and Atlanta United supporters nod in unison. After the recent 2-2 draw with Scotland, De Boer was asked who could play on the right side of a 5-3-2 formation, to which De Boer responded, “Queensy Menig could possibly go there, of course.” Perhaps he meant Quincy Promes, since FC Twente winger Menig didn’t even make the team. This is the man entrusted with orchestrating a major tournament run? C’mon.

Lopopolo: Belgium. The so-called golden generation is under a lot of pressure to deliver, and Kevin De Bruyne, arguably the best of the crop, is coming into the tournament banged up. Eden Hazard is also coming off one of the worst seasons of his career and unlikely to make a difference. Defensively, the Red Devils looked good in qualifying, but playing San Marino, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Scotland, and Russia will make any backline look good. Buyer beware.

Isosport/MB Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Nesci: Spain. This is a far cry from the all-conquering Spanish sides of years past, and COVID-19 issues within the squad may compound issues. There’s still plenty of talent at Luis Enrique’s disposal, but both star power and scoring punch seem to be lacking. A new generation is blossoming, but it’s not quite ready to deliver just yet. La Roja should benefit early from what looks like a very forgiving group, but the knockout stages won’t be kind.

Rouse: Germany. Joachim Low’s team will get plenty of cuts and bruises as it tries to emerge from the toughest group at the tournament, and then, as one of the best third-place finishers, would get another tricky match to begin the knockout rounds. Hansi Flick could have a serious cleanup job on his hands when he replaces Low after the Euros.

Golden Boot winner

Chandler: Burak Yilmaz. Going off the board with this one, but with Turkey looking to cause a few upsets en route to a deep run, the 35-year-old striker is primed for a standout tournament. Yilmaz bagged 16 league goals for shock Ligue 1 champions Lille this past season and will be blessed with stellar service from the likes of club teammate Yusuf Yazici, Hakan Calhanoglu, and Irfan Can Kahveci.

Lopopolo: Bruno Fernandes. Portugal’s attacking ensemble is arguably the best in the tournament, and Fernandes is at the heart of the operation. Though he’s not Portugal’s designated penalty taker – Cristiano Ronaldo continues to assume spot-kick duty – Fernandes is still a capable scorer from open play. And with defenders more likely to shadow Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, or Andre Silva, Fernandes could be afforded space in and around the 18-yard box.

Gualter Fatia / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Nesci: Romelu Lukaku. Coming off another spectacular season with Inter Milan, the 28-year-old will be the focal point of an absurdly talented Belgian attack. He’ll also have the opportunity to feast on Finland and Russia in the group stage before leading the Red Devils on what they hope will be a title-winning run through the knockout rounds. Getting service from De Bruyne – assuming he’s fit – doesn’t hurt Lukaku’s chances here, either.

Rouse: Kylian Mbappe. Paris Saint-Germain had a disappointing season overall, but Mbappe wasn’t to blame. The 22-year-old notched 27 goals in Ligue 1 and smashed eight goals over 10 Champions League appearances, and he’ll be fronting arguably the best side at Euro 2020. A pretty straightforward pick, this one.

Tournament final – and champion

Chandler: France vs. Portugal – France wins. In a rematch of the 2016 final, Didier Deschamps’ men will get revenge against Fernando Santos’ sage offering. Karim Benzema’s addition to an already elite squad makes Les Bleus the team to beat.

Lopopolo: Italy vs. Portugal – Italy wins. This is the best team to come out of the Italian peninsula since the 2006 World Cup, and it has the midfield to dominate matches. Verratti should be fit for the latter stages, offering the Azzurri relief right when it counts. Head coach Roberto Mancini can also count on multiple scorers and tremendous width from his crop of wingers. Expect Italy to beat Ukraine, Denmark, and France on the way to the final, where the four-time World Cup winner will take advantage of Portugal’s aging defense.

Claudio Villa / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Nesci: France vs. England – England wins. English supporters have been burned before, and that’s created an understandable apprehension among large portions of the fan base going into just about every major tournament in recent history. But this edition of the Three Lions is for real. Gareth Southgate’s team is loaded up front, features depth at the back, and has interchangeable pieces in midfield. There’s the potential for an absolute gauntlet of opponents in the knockout stages, but there’s no better way to silence doubters than running through contenders before closing things out with a victory over France at Wembley.

Rouse: France vs. Portugal – France wins. The final match in Group F could also be the final match of Euro 2020. France is so strong, even under the at-times questionable stewardship of World Cup-winning boss Deschamps, so a spot in the final should be the absolute minimum. Portugal, meanwhile, is awash with talent in midfield and attack, while Ruben Dias can do a lot of the leg work in a backline that could feature Pepe and Jose Fonte, who have a combined age of 75.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serie A

This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore will pick standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend’s slate is highlighted by a bumper Sunday schedule featuring a classic Italian rivalry and a heated London skirmish.

Serie A

Juventus vs. AC Milan

Giorgio Perottino / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: CBS Sports Network (U.S.), FuboTV (Canada)

After a miserable start to the campaign, Juventus finally got on track midweek, putting together an assured Champions League display against Malmo to pick up their first win of the new season. That 3-0 triumph will count for little if the Bianconeri don’t back it up with three points Sunday. Juve, sitting on one measly point from three Serie A matches, risk falling 11 points behind Sunday’s opposition with a loss.

It’s a long season, yes, but that’s a potentially whopping gap to try and close.

Meanwhile, AC Milan head into the enticing clash on the back of a defeat to Liverpool, but the nature of that game may actually give the Rossoneri a spring in their step. Making their long-awaited return to the Champions League, Milan recovered after a rocky start at Anfield, even stunning a raucous crowd and taking a shocking lead before ultimately succumbing to a frantic 3-2 defeat. A victory would’ve been great, of course, but the resiliency and ability to hang with one of the continent’s best sides was extremely encouraging, particularly without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who remains doubtful heading into the weekend due to an Achilles issue.

After many false dawns over the past decade, Milan now have a proper plan in place and appear well on their way to regaining lofty status.

Sunday’s game will push the proverbial narrative into overdrive. Either Juventus are truly “back” after a groggy start to Massimiliano Allegri’s second stint, or Milan have usurped the Old Lady as one of the title favorites in a season with no clear front-runner in Italy.

Prediction: An entertaining draw with some late penalty drama

Premier League

West Ham United vs. Manchester United

Ash Donelon / Manchester United / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (9 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: NBCSN (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Manchester United need to bounce back. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team have been lambasted on the back of a last-second defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League and will be looking for an immediate response.

“We know expectations are high, and we expect more of ourselves, the performance wasn’t up to our standard,” said the manager, after bemoaning what he deemed to be an overzealous response to the setback.

In a delicious twist, Jesse Lingard, whose brutal error gifted the Swiss club its famous victory Tuesday, will be desperate to atone against the team he starred on while on loan last season.

The schedule hasn’t been particularly kind to United, though, as David Moyes’ West Ham present a difficult challenge; the Hammers haven’t tasted defeat this season, racking up 10 goals over four league matches.

However, the Red Devils catch a huge break going into the contest as West Ham will be without talisman Michail Antonio. The red-hot forward, who has five goals in as many games across all competitions this season, was sent off last week against Southampton and will miss Sunday’s tilt due to suspension.

Prediction: Manchester United get back on track with slim win

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur FC / Tottenham Hotspur FC / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: Peacock (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

The Premier League campaign is only four matches old, but Nuno Espirito Santo already faces his first conundrum: Does his Tottenham Hotspur side have the personnel to defend astutely and furnish chances for Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and their other attackers?

Kane worryingly ended last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace without a single shot or touch in the opposition’s box.

Despite being on home turf, Nuno’s gut instinct should be to protect his defense from Chelsea’s rich array of attacking talent. Oliver Skipp has improved exponentially from a season-long loan with Norwich City. Either Skipp or Harry Winks could start alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but that means there is only one spot left for someone to complement Kane and Son.

The safest option would be Dele Alli, who only played around 15 minutes Thursday against Rennes as a shuttling box-to-box midfielder. But Nuno’s side could be less predictable and more dangerous with the elusive dribbling and vision of Giovani Lo Celso or Tanguy Ndombele, or the raw pace and agility of Bryan Gil. Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn are both injured.

It’ll be interesting to see if Nuno has the bravery to select one of his more inventive players for Chelsea’s visit or whether they’re simply called off the bench to respond to Spurs falling a goal or two behind to their London rivals.

Prediction: Chelsea win their third straight away match against Tottenham


Wolfsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

picture alliance / picture alliance / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (1:30 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)

It was supposed to be one step backward and two steps forward for Oliver Glasner. However, the Austrian tactician leaving fourth-place finishers Wolfsburg for Europa League-bound Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer hasn’t panned out so far.

Mark van Bommel’s Wolfsburg sit atop the Bundesliga table with a perfect record, while Glasner’s Frankfurt are just above the relegation zone with three points from four outings.

Wolfsburg has played a high-octane style under Glasner, aggressively pressing to win possession in the final third and relying on Wout Weghorst as a focal point when launching direct attacks. But Rafael Borre, who Frankfurt signed this summer to replace Andre Silva, can’t provide the same aerial ability and brawn when he’s 10 inches shorter than Weghorst, so Glasner mimicking his Wolfsburg success in Hesse could be difficult.

Meanwhile, Van Bommel has sensibly and successfully built on the defensive foundations that Glasner left behind.

“We know the coach, so we know his tactics somewhat, too,” Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix told the Bundesliga website. “So we have a bit of an idea of how we can set up against them.”

Prediction: Wolfsburg make it five wins in five matches with a narrow victory

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon


When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: beIN SPORTS (U.S. and Canada), FuboTV (Canada)

After blasting through the field and picking up maximum points from their opening five league matches, Paris Saint-Germain’s roaring start hit a wall Wednesday as Club Brugge shut down Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe in a 1-1 draw. The acclaimed “MNM” trio, playing together for the first time since Messi’s celebrated arrival, looked disjointed. Time on the training ground is needed before the three stars become a cohesive unit.

An ankle injury suffered by Mbappe may delay that chemistry a touch longer. His fitness going into the weekend remains in question.

Finding a balanced tactical structure that can accommodate all three in the same lineup will be Mauricio Pochettino’s greatest challenge this season. In that sense, Mbappe’s potential absence Sunday may make his life a little easier, at least in the immediate term.

Meanwhile, after a rocky start to the season, including a 3-3 draw with Clermont Foot that prompted jeers from the home fans and a very public dressing down from manager Peter Bosz, Lyon have steadied the ship, winning each of their last three matches in all competitions.

The talented Lyon midfield will be key if Bosz and Co. are to pull off an upset and keep their mini resurgence alive, especially after watching PSG get overrun in the middle of the pitch against Brugge.

Prediction: Messi leads PSG to win with his first goal for the club

Continue Reading

Serie A

This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore will pick standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend’s slate features Cristiano Ronaldo’s likely debut and a potential bonanza in the Bundesliga.

Premier League

Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

Martin Rickett – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (10 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: USA Network (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Saturday’s match at Old Trafford won’t be broadcast in England, leaving anyone without a ticket unable to watch Cristiano Ronaldo make his second debut as a Manchester United player.

Viewers in North America face no such conundrum.

Fans waited two weeks for Ronaldo to turn up again in his former colors. United could be playing anyone and the match would generate the same amount of interest. Newcastle United are simply invited guests on a day that should offer at least a cameo appearance from Ronaldo. The 36-year-old arrived at United’s training base on Tuesday, cutting short his time with the Portuguese national team to reorient himself with his former stomping ground.

We’ll also get an early indication of where exactly manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will field his ex-teammate. Solskjaer said he sees Ronaldo as “more of a center-forward at the moment.” After all, it’s goals United want.

Prediction: Ronaldo scores off the bench in an easy win

Arsenal vs. Norwich City

Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC / Getty

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (10 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: Peacock (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Arsenal can’t afford to get this wrong. Without a single goal scored or point secured, the Gunners are off to their worst start to a league season in 67 years. Manager Mikel Arteta had every right to call Saturday’s meeting with Norwich City – another club off to a horrendous start – a “must-win” affair. They’re only ahead of Arsenal because they managed to score after three matches.

There aren’t any more excuses to make. Arteta has had a full preseason and time to study his team and make adjustments. If anything, the international break provided the 39-year-old an excellent opportunity to figure out a way to get the most out of £150 million in signings. Even with midfielder Granit Xhaka out with COVID-19, Arteta will likely have the chance to start newcomers Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu in defense, and perhaps he can establish a new system for the likes of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith Rowe.

Because right now, Arteta isn’t getting good enough performances from his star players. Club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only scored twice in his last 11 league appearances, and £72-million signing Nicolas Pepe continues to disappoint on the right wing. If they don’t pick up the pace soon, Arteta may have no choice but to roll with the youngsters the rest of the way.

Prediction: Arsenal come out flying to ease the pressure on Arteta


NurPhoto / NurPhoto / Getty

RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (12:30 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)

An early battle between last season’s Bundesliga winners and the runners-up comes with the potential for an off-the-script bonanza.

A number of Bayern Munich’s players, including Niklas Sule, Leroy Sane, and Leon Goretzka, have had limited time in training before the marquee fixture. That’s because their flight from Iceland, where they were representing their country, was forced to stop suddenly in Scotland, turning a short trip back home into a 14-hour odyssey.

RB Leipzig are in no better shape, with Andre Silva struggling for form and youngsters Josko Gvardiol, Mohamed Simakan, and Ilaix Moriba all needing time to adjust to a new league.

It could be messy at Red Bull Arena. It could also be a lot of fun.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann will at least have an idea of what to expect from former side Leipzig. Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer – who followed Nagelsmann to Bavaria this past summer – will undoubtedly share insider info inside Bayern’s dressing room. But Leipzig have a game-changer of their own. Attacking midfielder Dani Olmo is coming off a productive summer with the Spanish national team – at both Euro 2020 and Tokyo 2020 – and he’s fully rested after sitting out the last round of international fixtures.

Prediction: Leipzig deliver Jesse Marsch’s first big win as manager

Serie A

Napoli vs. Juventus

Francesco Pecoraro / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (12 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: Paramount+ (U.S.), fuboTV (Canada)

Napoli will renew hostilities with Juventus the only way they know how: with fans causing an absolute ruckus inside the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. The southern Italians have beaten their northern rivals in three of the past five meetings, flexing their muscle even without an adoring crowd. But the best thing about Napoli is the fervor that devours the stadium, and with police allowing supporters entry four hours early, you can bet on them creating a killer atmosphere.

A lot has happened since the last time Napoli hosted Juventus in front of fans. That was back in January 2020, when the Partenopei scored a shocking 2-1 victory over Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus, with Gennaro Gattuso still on the bench. Luciano Spalletti now leads Napoli, and he’s got an early chance to win over a notoriously loyal fan base.

Victor Osimhen is also available to play, winning an appeal against a two-match ban for striking a player during a corner kick. The 22-year-old striker finished last season strong, scoring six goals in his final nine Serie A appearances, and entered the campaign as an outside pick to win Italy’s Golden Boot award.

Meanwhile, Juventus head into hostile territory without a win to date. Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala are unavailable as well.

Prediction: Osimhen scores twice in a heated affair

AC Milan vs. Lazio

Insidefoto / LightRocket / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 12 (12 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: Paramount+ (U.S.), fuboTV (Canada)

This is the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. AC Milan and Lazio are both perfect to begin the term, and they’re each coming off blowout victories.

Both clubs are looking to cement Champions League places this season. For Milan, it’s about continuity, but for Lazio, it’s about proving they belong. The Biancocelesti missed out on a berth after making their first appearance in the competition in 12 years last season. Milan, on the other hand, are back in the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

For so long, these two sides have run side by side, jostling for wins and position in the standings, and contests between them have followed a similar theme. A single goal decided seven of their last nine meetings, including dramatic last-minute winners that delivered crucial points in the Champions League race.

There will almost certainly be goals this time around. Only two of their last 26 encounters finished goalless, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in line to make his return from injury at a half-capacity San Siro, Milan will look to build on their strong start.

Prediction: Milan grind out a win despite Lazio’s late comeback attempt

Continue Reading

Serie A

FIFA ignoring fans in World Cup proposal that 'threatens' game, say supporters

Supporters’ groups from across the globe have hit out at FIFA’s proposal to hold the World Cup every two years, describing it as a move that threatens to “destroy” the football ecosystem and put more matches out of their financial reach.

A joint statement released Tuesday by 58 fan groups representing all six confederations began by quoting FIFA director of development Arsene Wenger saying the plan is “what the fans want.”

“The undersigned fans’ organizations categorically refute this statement,” the declaration reads. “The overwhelming majority of fans oppose a biennial World Cup cycle – and if FIFA had bothered to engage with us on the subject, they would have known this to be the case.”

Wenger is discussing his proposed shake-up with former England internationals Michael Owen and John Terry and has vowed to include all of football’s major stakeholders in the extensive consultation process, according to BBC Sport’s Simon Stone. There was no mention of supporters in Stone’s report.

“We’re not the only ones (who are ignored),” Ronan Evain, the executive director of Football Supporters Europe, told theScore. “National associations, clubs, and leagues – they’re not really involved in it, either.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and European Clubs’ Association chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi both condemned the notion of a biennial World Cup on Monday. Al-Khelaifi warned that “international competition cannot suffocate fans’ and players’ connections to clubs, without which international competition wouldn’t exist.”


Evain added: “FIFA is saying they’re already speaking to fans outside of Europe, but we’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of groups in Africa, in Asia, in South America … and no one has been consulted. So, either they do this fan consultation with random people, or it is bullshit.”

The joint statement continued in questioning FIFA’s motivation to alter a World Cup tradition that began in 1930, saying there’s no evidence it’ll improve the global game.

Additionally, the fan groups noted the damage they believe a biennial World Cup could cause.

“Such a move threatens to destroy the already fragile balance between local, domestic, continental, and international competitions and calendars,” the statement reads. “In particular, it will devalue and endanger the established competitions run by the various confederations – competitions that are just as important to match-going fans as the World Cup itself.

“We enjoy the World Cup precisely because it is an extraordinary event. Most of us do not have the time, money, or ability to travel to the other side of the world every 24 months to watch our teams play in a much-diminished competition and half-empty stadia.”

Evain, who’s French, tried to think about Wenger’s proposal from the perspective of nations that find it harder to reach major tournaments, citing Wales as an example. However, he’s found that the potential of more tournament games through more World Cups isn’t enticing fans from those countries.

Two supporters’ organizations from Wales signed the statement slamming the biennial World Cup plans.

“I can’t really see the demand – and I’ve tried hard to find it,” Evain said.

The statement concludes: “We … call on FIFA and supportive national football associations to abandon their proposals to impose a biennial World Cup and include fans’ voices in any decisions that affect the future of the game that we fund and make a global spectacle.”

Continue Reading