Euro 2020 Group A: team previews, tournament history, rankings, chances

Euro 2020 Group A preview

With Euro 2020 now just around the corner, GiveMeSport shines a light on Group A, assessing the chances of Italy, Turkey, Wales and Switzerland.

Italy

Italy Euro 2020

FIFA ranking: 7
Best Euros finish: Champions (1968)
Best player: Marco Verratti

Just over three years after their disappointment of missing out on the World Cup in Russia in 2018, it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that Italy go into the Euros as one of the strongest teams.

Coach Roberto Mancini believes his side aren’t far from Europe’s best – and he’s got the record to prove it. They qualified with a perfect record: 10 wins from 10, becoming only the sixth team in Euros’ history to achieve that feat and in the Nations League, they finished on top of their group and will look to win their first title at home this October.

The squad is young and exciting. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma guards the nets and in front of him, players like Alessandro Bastoni and Gianluca Mancini will look to make a name for themselves.

Their midfield is arguably the most potent at the tournament: Manuel Locatelli, Nicolò Barella and Jorginho will be there and they will be hoping Marco Verratti will be fit in time. Up top, Ciro Immobile, despite his struggles with the national team, has had a record-breaking season with Lazio and he will lead the line.

They can go far and considering the form they’re in – just two losses in 28 under Mancini since 2018 – they should feel confident.

Turkey

Turkey Euro 2020

FIFA ranking: 29
Best Euros finish: Semi-finals (2008)
Best player: Burak Yılmaz

This group of Turkish footballers feel like the dark horses of the tournament.

They’ve gone from strength to strength in recent times, both in terms of result and quality and the impressive domestic seasons some of their players have had have only furthered encouragement that this team can do well. Factor in a favourable group stage draw, there’s little doubt that this team can progress even more.

They finished second in their qualifying group, just two points behind World Cup holders France and some of their recent results in 2021 have included wins over the Netherlands and Norway.
The Turks’ recent leakiness at the back will be a worry. In qualifying, no one conceded fewer goals than Turkey (3) but in the 11 games they’ve played since 2020, they’ve conceded 19, including three 3-3 draws. However, they can take some positivity from the fact that they’ve lost just twice in that period.

It is in defence where their best depth lies. The likes of Çağlar Söyüncü, Ozan Kabak and Merih Demiral will all have a say. Ozan Tufan is the star in midfield but it’s the man up top, 35-year-old Burak Yılmaz, who will be the most decisive. His impressive season with Lille (17 goals) has raised hopes.

The Euros often spring a surprise and in this edition, Turkey could be the nation that does it. They have a knack for entertainment.

Wales

Wales Euro 2020

FIFA ranking: 17
Best Euros finish: Semi-finals (2016)
Best player: Gareth Bale

At their first European Championships five years ago, Wales reached the semi-finals. Things aren’t quite as rosy as they were then, especially off the pitch.

Ryan Giggs was supposed to lead them as head coach at the tournament, but he was replaced by Rob Page after the former was charged with assault. Page, however, has impressed, having taken charge of the team in their last six games, losing just once to Belgium.

In qualification, they finished second behind Croatia and a point clear of Slovakia, but that was a while ago and under different leadership. This Welsh team does contain certain elements from their last Euros’ outing.

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, two of their best players in France in 2016, are still in the side and even though their club form has been different in recent times, they will be important to Wales. Ethan Ampadu has been a constant in defence and should start – he’ll be one to keep an eye on. Elsewhere, Joe Allen and Daniel James will look to make a mark.

It’s hard to see beyond Italy and Turkey as the top two in this group, so beating Switzerland will be key. A win against them in their opening game could set them on the right path to qualification.

Switzerland

Switzerland Euro 2020

FIFA ranking: 13
Best Euros finish: Round of 16 (2016)
Best player: Yann Sommer

Switzerland scored 19 goals in qualifying. Ten of them came against Gibraltar. Despite a fairly talented group of attacking players — including Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel Embolo and Haris Seferović — the Swiss often struggle to score goals.

Despite that, they won their qualification group and it came as part of a generally good period in Swiss football, as they also managed to reach the finals of the first edition of the Nations League, ahead of World Cup bronze medalists, Belgium.

Vladimir Petković has done a fine job over the last seven years, becoming the national team’s most successful head coach ever. Although they put in decent displays at Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018, reaching the Round of 16 in both, they fell short against Poland and Sweden respectively.

That’s where the worry will be – they haven’t gone past the second round of any competition since 1938. The squad has a few quality players, though. Yann Sommer has been one of the Bundesliga’s most consistent goalkeepers. In front of him, Manuel Akanji and Granit Xhaka can make a difference.

This group is tough, however, and goals have been in limited supply for the Swiss. It’s hard to see them breaking their second round curse and perhaps, they may not even get a chance to do that if they can’t get there.

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