In every major international competition, there is always a nation that surpasses expectations.
Greece went all the way at Euro 2004 and beat hosts Portugal in the final in one of the greatest underdog stories in the Euros history. The Czech Republic reached the final in 1996, while outsiders Denmark lifted the European Championship in 1992.
Ahead of Euro 2020, some surprise nations are ranked as the tournament’s outsiders. But, as previous tournaments have shown spectators, no team can be completely written off.
Despite being one of the most successful teams ever in international football, Italy have regularly fallen short in recent European Championships.
Their last Euros victory came in 1968 – the first appearance for Italy in the competition. Since then, Italy have finished runners-up twice, most recently in 2012, when they lost 4-0 to a rampant Spain in the final.
Italy also failed to make the 2018 World Cup, seen as a major failure for the nation. However, they have bounced back and won all 10 of their Euro qualifiers with a goal difference of +33. They also enter the 2020 Euros on the back of a 26-match unbeaten run, winning 21, under Roberto Mancini.
Although bookmakers do not fancy Italy as one of the main favourites this year, they are in good form, will be hard to beat and have a talented pool of players. Strikers Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne will provide the threat in attack. Promising youngsters Gianluigi Donnarumma, Federico Chiesa and Nicolo Barella will also bring a hunger to Mancini’s squad.
After their 2010 World Cup final appearance, and a third-place finish at Brazil 2014, the Netherlands have struggled on the international stage. They failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup and come into Euro 2020 in unconvincing form.
Former Holland defender Frank De Boer took charge of the Oranje in September and has only won four of his 10 matches as manager, including losses to Mexico and Turkey.
De Boer’s side should progress from Group C with Austria, North Macedonia and Ukraine their opponents. However, further progress may be difficult in the latter stages of the tournament, with key player Virgil Van Dijk out of the final 26-man squad with injury.
The Netherlands still possesses plenty of quality in captain Georginio Wijnaldum, striker Memphis Depay and Ajax starlet Ryan Gravenberch. But De Boer will need his key players in top form to make the finals.
Croatia have a consistent record in major tournaments, and they achieved their best-ever finish as runners up of the 2018 World Cup. Since becoming a FIFA team in 1996, Croatia have reached the knockout stages in four of their five appearances at the Euros.
They face tough opposition in Group D in England, the Czech Republic and Scotland. The loss of key players Ivan Rakatic and Mario Mandzukic last year will have hurt Croatia, but they still have plenty of established and young quality in their ranks.
Captain Luka Modric is still a regular at Real Madrid and still possess the talent that saw him win the Balon D’or in 2018. He will be central to a successful tournament alongside 23-year-old Nikola Vlasic and forward Mislav Orsic, who scored 16 goals for Dinamo Zagreb this season.
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