The sixteenth EURO edition is about to kick off and the logical choice is to talk about the main candidates for the title: France, England, Belgium and Germany; or “the quiet ones”, like Italy, Holland and Portugal. However, and for the enjoyment of football lovers, the European teams level is potentially increasing.
Those national teams that are a step behind the top ones have improved their competitiveness and will hinder the group stage dominance. Furthermore, this EURO´s format, which includes a round of 16 and four tickets for the best thirds, offers a great chance for everyone to dream of reaching the ‘K.O. rounds’. This way, we can be about to witness a tournament full of surprises or at least very even.
In this post I remark two of those countries that could make it far, beat the big teams and that you probably did not expect:
Coached by Şenol Güneş, they are in Group A and will inaugurate the EURO by facing off Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. The Italians are the main candidates to finish top of the group, but Turkey have proved to be a solid block with an interesting mixture of seniors and youth. They stand out at fitness, but they also have technique.
In fact, they are now leading their group to qualify for the World Cup and they beat Holland by 4-2. Their other two rivals are Switzerland and Wales, which will not be easy to play against either. However, Güneş has covered up all the lines and counts on several consolidated players: Yilmaz, Söyüncü, Çalhanoğlu, Yokuşlu, Celik or Under.
Nihat Özdemir, the President of the Turkey Football Federation, set the goal of reaching the round of 16. A reasonable objective, but I believe that Turkey can end the EURO between the best eight teams if they are ambitious enough.
They made it to the EURO by booking the last ticket on an agonic penalty shootout and maybe that excitement and the return to the tournament 25 years later takes pressure away from an Scottish national team that with hunger and a daring playing style. They are all under the age of 30 except for the keeper Declan Gallagher.
However, their core plays in the Premier League and many of them have a bright future ahead or already stand out worldwide: Andrew Robertson, Scott McTominay, John McGinn, Kieran Tierney, John Fleck (who tested positive in Covid) and the Chelsea´s promise Billy Gilmour.
Coached by Steve Clarke, “The Tartan Army” has much to offer and nothing to loose. Moreover, they could´t have a bigger incentive in the group stage: facing England. We will enjoy of a beautiful United Kingdom derby. Making it through by ending 2nd if they get good scores against Croatia and the Czech Republic would certainly increase Scotland´s chances to make it far in this EURO, as they would take on the second from the Group E in the round of 16, that is to say, if everything goes as expected, Sweden or Poland.
Turkey and Scotland are not the only candidates to relieve Island as the surprise/revelation of the EURO, but the ones I stand out. It is very difficult to predict those teams that can make a great performance, as they all come hunger and fearless. Nothing is set. What I can assure you is that we will enjoy. Can´t wait for the kick off.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.