Euro 2020 is finally here.
It’s been three years since the last international tournament - a gap we haven’t experienced for a very long time.
And we just can’t wait for it to all kick off now.
It’s going to be a summer tournament like no other. Matches will be played around 11 host cities while stadiums still won’t be full due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also a very open tournament with several nations fancying their chances this summer.
But what will happen over the next month?
The obvious suggestions are that France will ease their way to glory with Kylian Mbappe running the show.
The Big Fat Euro 2020 Quiz
But we’ve decided to think outside the box a little bit.
Therefore, we’ve picked out 10 unexpected things that we think could well happen this summer.
We might even stick a cheeky £1 on each one.
Kalvin Phillips to start for England vs Croatia
Gareth Southgate has a few selection decisions to make ahead of England’s opener against Croatia on Sunday. Jordan Henderson clearly isn’t fit and there is a position up for grabs there. It’s likely to be Declan Rice and Mason Mount in a midfield three alongside one other. If it’s not Henderson, Jude Bellingham appears the next in line. However, we think it may go to Leeds’ Phillips who offers a bit more robustness and has a very underrated passing ability.
Turkey to be the ultimate underdogs
We’re really backing Turkey to be the dark horses of this tournament. That Switzerland are more likely to progress through Group A than Turkey is completely wrong, in our opinion. If Turkey do come second in the group, they will then likely Denmark in the last-16. Win that and it’s most likely to be the understrength Netherlands in the quarters. A pretty comfortable passage to the last four.
A Turkey vs France final
In fact, we’re going to go one step further and predict a Turkey vs France final. We’ll pick up where we left off in terms of our Turkey prediction and, having done a virtual wallchart in our heads, they will face either Spain or England in the semis.
On the other side of the draw, France should progress to the final without too many issues.
Incidentally, Turkey picked up four points from France in the qualifiers.
Denmark to reach the quarter-finals
Okay, we may have suggested Denmark will lose to Turkey in the last-16 earlier in this article but we’re not ruling out either side finishing top of their group. Win the group and it’s a third-place side for the Danes in the last-16 while as mentioned, a second place finish will result in a clash against whoever comes second in Group A.
The Netherlands to crash out in the group stages
If Group F is the ‘Group of Death’, Group C is the ‘Group of Dearth of talent’. Okay, that may be a bit harsh but we’re simply not having the Netherlands. On paper, Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia don’t face much competition but all three of those sides are arguably better than what many fans believe. With four of the six third-place sides going though to the last-16, it takes a lot of crash out in the group stages but we fear this Netherlands could be a huge casualty early on.
Scotland to reach the quarter-finals
In Group C, you appear to be at an advantage if you finish second or third, rather than topping the group. Finishing second will see you face either Sweden or Poland in the last-16, while coming third will see you take on Belgium. We’re not saying Scotland would beat Roberto Martinez’s side but it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see them reach the last-eight.
England to beat Germany in last-16
We don’t rate this Germany side particularly highly and we reckon they will finish third behind France and Portugal in their group. If England were to win their group, they could well meet at Wembley in the last-16. We’ll be backing Gareth Southgate’s side to do the business in front of their own fans.
Karim Benzema Player of the Tournament
If you look at the odds for the Player of Tournament, you’ll see the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku. You have to scroll down to about 33/1 to see the name of the returning Karim Benzema. France are favourites to win the tournament, Benzema is likely to start up front. It makes sense.
Sasa Kalajdzic to be top goalscorer
The 23-year-old Austrian scored 16 goals in 23 starts for Stuttgart this season with the 6ft 7in striker an obvious aerial threat.
In arguably the weakest group in the tournament, facing Ukraine, Netherlands and North Macedonia, Kalajdzic has the chance to fill his boots before crashing out in the early knockout rounds.
Gareth Bale to play his final match in football
Bale has had an incredible career but he will turn 32 in the summer and his career is at a crossroads. The appointment of Carlo Ancelotti may persuade him to give it one more year at Real Madrid but could he lead Wales to a relatively successful campaign before turning his attention to golf.