After a year-long delay, the 2020 European Championship football tournament will finally get underway on Friday evening with Italy facing Turkey in Rome in the first game in Group A of the competition. Over the following days, the 22 other teams will also play their first games in the Group Stage as the tournament starts with a bang.
This special tournament, devised to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the very first European Championships held back in 1960, was the brainchild of former UEFA president Michel Platini, and was originally set to be played across numerous venues in Europe, rather than in just one or two host countries.
That is still the plan this year, although the number of venues in which games will be played has shrunk, but the remainder of the tournament structure remains intact.
All of the top teams across Europe have qualified for the event this year including the World Ranked number 1 team Belgium, the winners of the last four World Cups, France, Germany, Spain and Italy and of course the current European Championship holders, Portugal along with the likes of England, Croatia and Denmark.
Alongside these big guns a number of lesser nations have qualified for their first ever tournament finals, Finland and North Macedonia, while Scotland will be making their first finals appearance since France 1998 and Wales are back after excelling in the last tournament, reaching the semifinals, where they lost to eventual champions Portugal.
It promises to be a hugely exciting tournament with a now customary Group of Death (Group F), the prospect of an England v Scotland clash in the Group Stage and Wales taking on the Italians in Rome in what should be a cracker.
As is always the case when a massive football tournament is underway, bet365 Sport offers an exceptional range of bets on the tournament as a whole, on each of the groups, as well as fantastic pre-match betting on all the games. Don’t forget also the site offers extensive In Play betting options while each match is in progress too.
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We are going to be focusing on this tournament over the next few weeks, so to begin with, let’s give you our preview of how we see each of the six groups panning out, and which 16 of the 24 teams competing will make it through into the Round of 16 knockout phase.
Group Stage Preview & Tips
The top two teams in each of the six groups will earn a place in the Round of 16, with four of the best third placed teams also qualifying for that stage of the tournament.
With that in mind, I have gone through each group, worked out my prediction for how each game will pan out and then come up with the 12 teams I think will finish first and second in each group, as well as the four teams that will qualify as the best of the third placed teams.
Match Venues – Rome (Italy) & Baku (Azerbaijan)
Group A Fixtures & Predictions
- June 11 – Turkey v Italy (Rome, 8pm) – Italy Win
- June 12 – Wales v Switzerland (Baku, 2pm) – Switzerland Win
- June 16 – Turkey v Wales (Baku, 5pm) – Draw
- June 16 – Italy v Switzerland (Rome, 8pm) – Italy Win
- June 20 – Italy v Wales (Rome, 5pm) – Italy Win
- June 20 – Switzerland v Turkey (Baku, 5pm) – Switzerland Win
I can see just the two teams coming through this group. I think the crucial result here will be the predicted draw between Turkey and Wales which I think will eliminate both teams. I fancy Italy to win all three games at home in Rome and Switzerland are a very solid side who I expect to beat both Turkey and Wales to finish second in the group.
Match Venues – Saint Petersburg (Russia) & Copenhagen (Denmark)
Group B Fixtures & Predictions
- June 12 – Denmark v Finland (Copenhagen, 5pm) – Denmark Win
- June 12 – Belgium v Russia (Saint Petersburg, 8pm) – Belgium Win
- June 16 – Finland v Russia (Saint Petersburg, 2pm) – Russia Win
- June 17 – Denmark v Belgium (Copenhagen, 5pm) – Draw
- June 21 – Russia v Denmark (Copenhagen, 5pm) – Draw
- June 21 – Belgium v Finland (Saint Petersburg, 5pm) – Belgium Win
I think Finland will be the whipping boys in this group as I expect Belgium to win the group with seven points ahead of Denmark with five and Russia with four. All of which should be enough for those two teams to join Belgium in the Round of 16.
- North Macedonia
Match Venues – Bucharest (Romania) & Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Group C Fixtures & Predictions
- June 13 – Austria v North Macedonia (Bucharest, 5pm) – Draw
- June 13 – Netherlands v Ukraine (Amsterdam, 8pm) – Netherlands Win
- June 17 – Ukraine v North Macedonia (Bucharest, 2pm) – Ukraine Win
- June 17 – Netherlands v Austria (Amsterdam, 8pm) – Netherlands Win
- June 21 – North Macedonia v Netherlands (Amsterdam, 5pm) – Netherlands Win
- June 21 – Ukraine v Austria (Bucharest, 5pm) – Draw
Playing all their games in Amsterda, I fancy the Dutch to win out in this group, and I think Ukraine will earn four points to finish second. Austria I can see picking up a couple of points, but I don’t think this will be enough for them to reach the Round of 16, with North Macedonia finishing bottom of the group.
- Czech Republic
Match Venues – London (England), Glasgow (Scotland)
Group D Fixtures & Predictions
- June 13 – England v Croatia (London, 8pm) – England Win
- June 14 – Scotland v Czech Republic (Glasgow, 2pm) – Scotland Win
- June 18 – Croatia v Czech Republic (Glasgow, 5pm) – Croatia Win
- June 18 – England v Scotland (London, 8pm) – England Win
- June 22 – Croatia v Scotland (Glasgow, 8pm) – Draw
- June 22 – England v Czech Republic (London, 8pm) – England Win
England have a good record at home generally, so I would expect them to win all three games at Wembley against their opponents. I think Scotland will surprise the Czech’s in their first game and may even earn a draw against Croatia. So I can see Croatia pipping the Scots into second spot on goal difference, but Scotland qualifying as a best third placed team.
Match Venues – Seville (Spain) & Saint Petersburg (Russia)
Group E Fixtures & Predictions
- June 14 – Poland v Slovakia (Saint Petersburg, 5pm) – Poland Win
- June 14 – Spain v Sweden (Seville, 8pm) – Spain Win
- June 18 – Sweden v Slovakia (Saint Petersburg, 2pm) – Sweden Win
- June 19 – Spain v Poland (Seville, 8pm) – Spain Win
- June 23 – Sweden v Poland (Saint Petersburg, 5pm) – Poland Win
- June 23 – Spain v Slovakia (Seville, 5pm) – Spain Win
This group looks pretty straight forward to me. With home advantage in all their three games, I’d expect Spain to win all of those, and I think Poland will win two of their three and Sweden one of their three games to claim a place in the Round of 16, eliminating Slovakia in the process.
Match Venues – Munich (Germany) & Budapest (Hungary)
Group F Fixtures & Predictions
- June 15 – Hungary v Portugal (Budapest, 5pm) – Portugal Win
- June 15 – France v Germany (Munich, 8pm) – Draw
- June 19 – Hungary v France (Budapest, 2pm) – France Win
- June 19 – Portugal v Germany (Munich, 5pm) – Germany Win
- June 23 – Portugal v France (Budapest, 8pm) – France Win
- June 23 – Germany v Hungary (Munich, 8pm) – Germany Win
As you can see, I have France and Germany both finishing on seven points in this group, but I just feel France may pip the Germans to top spot on goal difference. I think Portugal will win in Hungary and that may just be enough for them to earn the final spot for the third placed teams in the Round of 16. Hungary, with no points, would be eliminated.
What Round of 16 Draw Would These Predicted Results Produce?
If the tables finish as shown and the 16 predicted teams do qualify, then the Round of 16 ties that this would produce are outlined below:
- Switzerland v Denmark (Amsterdam)
- Italy v Ukraine (London)
- Netherlands v Portugal (Budapest)
- Belgium v Sweden (Seville)
- Croatia v Poland (Copenhagen)
- France v Russia (Bucharest)
- England v Germany (London)
- Spain v Scotland (Glasgow)
Let’s see how accurate these predictions are as the games pan out!