US Men Wrap up Winning week with 4-0 win over Costa Rica
So lets start with the US wrapped up a fantastic week of CONCACAF Soccer with a solid 4-0 win over a Costa Rica team that tied Mexico 0-0 just 1 week earlier and lost on PKs. Right after winning the most significant game and Championship vs Mexico in a decade for this young US team. The US changed out 8 starters from Sunday night – and didn’t miss a step. Twenty-Year-old Brendan Aaronson looked dangerous all night long as he scored the first goal of the game and had huge darting runs behind the backline. Adams started at the #6 and showed why he might be the most important player on this team – he simply protects that backline like no other in the US player pool – always in the right spot to cover for centerbacks and outside backs alike. Dike got his goal late in the first half after occupying the middle of Costa Rica’s defense for most of it. He should had another probably – but overall he adds his name to that look for starting #9 for the US. Tim Weah looked dangerous on right wing and just missed his shot on goal while Musah also looked solid and teamed really well with Weah on the right side. McKensie started Centerback with Tim Ream and showed the 2 could cover against 2nd class CONCACAF competition. I still think Ream is just too old at 33 to not be replaced by a younger Centerback for the US – good to see Walker Zimmerman provide a solid half after his last call-up for injured Brooks last night. We should see some new guys battle for those Centerback spots in the Gold Cup I would think. Horvath started in goal on his 26th birthday and solidified his spot as he barely faced a shot with his clean sheet. Horvath will now hopefully get some looks from other European teams as his backup contract with Club Brugge in Belgium has run out. Overall another great night in front of a nearly full Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake and a great week of soccer. Oh Musah is cap tied – I learned during the broadcast. Hope to see him on the Gold Cup roster along perhaps Reggie Cannon, Lletget, Zimmerman, Dike, and GK Ochoa.
US Ladies Beat Portugal 1-0 – Play Sun 10 pm FS1
So the US ladies played last night without their legendary #6 D Mid Julie Ertz as she is injured until next month. That allowed the US ladies to play Lindsay Horan at the 6 spot and she really handled it well. The top US midfield of Lavell and Mewis usually shares time with Horan – but this allowed all 3 to play featuring all 3 of the best US mids on the field at the same time. The question was could Horan defend that back line like Ertz does – the answer well yes. Portugal barely got past midfield much less registered many shots – the shot chart was like 24-3 overall for the US. Good to see going into the Olympics in case Ertz is still struggling – either way nice to have a solid backup plan and perhaps be able to give Ertz a break now and then during the Olympics this summer. I will be interesting to see if coach plugs in the youngster Davidson into the 6 slot for Sunday’s game to see how she fills that role as well. Already we saw her on the left side for 20 minuutes and she play centerback for club – so she might also cover 3 spots with her inclusion. Overall it was a frustrating game for the US – as Portugal sat back and their Goalkeeper had some spectacular saves to keep the game at 1-0 after facing 24 shots on her goal. I thought Christen Press was Woman of the match – as she was dangerous on both the left and right sides all game. She provided the corner to Mewis who headed home the winner in the 75th minutes or so. Not a bad game for the US – but they are going to need to finish chances better in the final 3rd in Japan this summer. The US plays again vs Jamaica at 10 pm on Sunday June 13th on FS 1 and finally Wed night at 9 pm on ESPN2 vs Nigeria live from Austin. The 3 game series features most the usuals except Tobin Heath – still recovering from injury (though she is training and will be at camp) and Julie Ertz (MCL expected back for Olympics) and Mallory Pugh. The US has added the Send off Series vs Mexico in July just before the Olympics as well.
This Sun, June 13
10 PM ET, FS1 USWNT vs Jamaica ,
Wed, June 16
9 PM ET, ESPN2 USWNT vs Nigeria
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)
European Cup Starts today
The European Cup kicks off the Summer of Soccer today with Turkey facing one of the darkhorse favorites Italy in Rome at 3 pm on ESPN. They will play almost daily as many as 3 games a day on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC until July 7th. France come in as the favorites but defending champs Portugal, #1 Ranked Belgium, England, Germany or Spain may have something to say about that. Also on Sunday the Copa America – which has been moved to Brazil– will kick off – giving us day games evening starts (5 and 8 pm) to watch nearly every day in June. Sunday’s game features Brazil and Neymar hosting Venezuela on Fox at 5 pm. While the featured games for the European Cup this weekend include Wales and Bale vs Switzerland at 9 am on Saturday on ESPN, followed by #1 Belgium vs Russia at 3 pm on ABC, and Sunday has England vs Croatia on ESPN at 9 am from Wimbley, followed at 3 pm by Netherlands vs Ukraine on ESPN.
Summer of Soccer
European Championships June 11 – July 7 ESPN
Copa America June 13 to July 10 FS1, FS2, Univision
Olympics US Ladies July 21-Aug 5 NBC
Gold Cup July 10 – Aug 1 FS1, FS2, Fox
CARMEL FC 2021 Tryouts Monday June 14th
All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.
June 14, 2021- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2003 to 2011)
Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.
Tryouts for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011: 5:45pm to 7:15pm
2021 Alumni/College Age Soccer League
High School graduates, college students, young professionals come join our soccer league this summer!
Who can play? ages 18-30, experienced, new to the sport and anyone wanting to be active and meet new people.
When does it start/end? Mid- June through early August Where? Shelborne Soccer Fields 3451 W. 126th Street
Cost? 105.00 (no annual fee or volunteer fee apply to this league). Do I have to be a Carmel resident? There is no residency requirement for this program.
Please click here to register for this league. Registration is open now- June 12 Jerseys and socks are provided Questions please contact the office 317-846-1663 or email email@example.com
GAMES ON TV
EUROS + COPA America 2021
(all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+)
Friday, June 11
Group A – Turkey vs. Italy, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Saturday, June 12
Group A – Wales vs. Switzerland, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Finland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Belgium vs. Russia, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Sunday, June 13
Group D – England vs. Croatia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Austria vs. North Macedonia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Ukraine, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
COPA Brazil vs Venezuela 7 pm FS , Unimas
COPA Colombia vs Ecuador 10 pm FS2, Univision
USA Women vs Jamaica 10 pm (FS1)
Monday, June 14
Group D – Scotland vs. Czech Republic, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Poland vs. Slovakia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Spain vs. Sweden, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
COPA Argentina vs Chile 5 pm FS1, Univision
COPA Paraguay vs Bolivia 8 pm FS1, Univision
Tuesday, June 15
Group F – Hungary vs. Portugal, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – France vs. Germany, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Indy 11 vs Pittsburgh 8 pm (ESPN+/ESPN Desp)
Gold Cup Qualifying Canada vs Haiti 9 pm (Paramount +)
Wednesday, June 16
Group B – Finland vs. Russia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Turkey vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Switzerland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
USA Women vs Nigeria 9 pm (ESPN2)
Thursday, June 17
Group C – Ukraine vs. North Macedonia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Belgium, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Austria, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Copa Chile vs Bolivia 5 pm FS 1
Copa Argentina vs Uruguay 8 pm FS 1, Unimas
Friday, June 18
Group E – Sweden vs. Slovakia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Croatia vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – England vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
COPA Colombia vs Venezuela 7 pm FS 2
COPA Peru vs Brazil 10 pm FS2, Univision
Saturday, June 19
Group F – Hungary vs. France, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – Portugal vs. Germany, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univ, TUDN)
Group E – Spain vs. Poland, 2:30 a.m. (ABC)
NWSL North Carolina Courage vs OL Reign (NY/NJ) 4 pm (CBS)
Sunday, June 20
Group A – Switzerland vs. Turkey, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
MLS Atlanta United s Philly Union 2 pm (ESPN)
NWSL Portland Thorns (Rapino) vs KC 4 pm (CBS)
Copa Uruguay vs Chile 4 pm FS1, Univision
Sporting KC 2 vs Indy 11 5 pm (ESPN+)
Copa Argentina vs Paraguay 7 pm FS1, Univision
Monday, June 21
Group C – North Macedonia vs. Netherlands, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Ukraine vs. Austria, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Group B – Russia vs. Denmark, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Finland vs. Belgium, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tuesday, June 22
Group D – Croatia vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Czech Republic vs. England, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, June 23
Group E – Slovakia vs. Spain, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Sweden vs. Poland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Group F – Portugal vs. France, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Group F – Germany vs. Hungary, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Copa Brazil vs Colombia 8 pm FS1, Univision
Copa Ecaador vs Peru 5 pm FS2, Univision
Friday, June 25
MLS Inter Miami vs Orlando City 8 pm (FS1)
Saturday, June 26
Round of 16 (Amsterdam) – 2A vs. 2B, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (London) – 1A vs. 2C, 2:30 p.m., London (ABC)
MLS Sporting KC vs LAFC 5 pm (ESPN)
Sunday, June 27
Round of 16 (Budapest) – 1C vs. 3DEF, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Saville) – 1B vs. 3ADEF, 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)
Copa Brazil vs Ecuador 5 pm Fox, Univision
Copa Venezuela vs Peru 5 pm FS2, Univision
MLS Austin vs Columbus Crew 8 pm (FS1)
Monday, June 28
Round of 16 (Copenhagen) – 2D vs. 2E, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Bucharest) – 1F vs. 3ABC, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Copa Uruguay vs Paraguay 8 pm FS2, Univision
Copa Argentina vs Boliva 8 pm FOX, Univision
Tuesday, June 29
Round of 16 (London) – 1D vs. 2F, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Glasgow) – 1E vs. 3ABCD, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Thursday, July 1
USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)
Austin vs Portland Timbers 9:30 pm (FS1)
Friday, July 2
Quarterfinal I (St. Petersburg) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Quarterfinal II (Munich) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, July 3
Quarterfinal III (Baku) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Quarterfinal IV (Rome) – 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)
Columbus Crew vs New England 5 pm (ESPN)
Racing Louisville vs Portland Thorns NWSL 7:30 pm (Paramount +)
COPA QuarterFinal 6 pm (FS1)
COPA QuarterFinal 9 pm (FS1)
Mexico vs Nigeria 11 pm ?
Monday, July 5
USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)
COPA SemiFinal 7pm (FS1)
Tuesday, July 6
Semifinal I (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)
Wednesday, July 7
Semifinal II (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)
Friday, July 9
COPA Semi-Final 8 pm (FS1)
Saturday, July 10 GOLD CUP STARTS
Gold Cup – Mexico vs ?? 10 pm (FS1)
COPA Final 8 pm (FS1)
Sunday, July 11
Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)
Gold Cup Canada vs Martinique 6:30 pm (FS1)
Gold Cup USA vs ??? 8:30 pm (FS1)
Monday, July 12
Gold Cup Jamaica vs Surinam 6:30 pm (FS1)
Gold Cup Costa Rica vs ???? 8:30 pm (FS1)
What you need to know about the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament
Euro 2020 betting: Picks for all of Saturday’s group stage games
De Bruyne ruled out of Belgium’s EURO 2020 opener; Hazard update
Italy raring to go at Euro 2020 after World Cup failure – Chiellini
England boss Southgate speaks of ‘pride’ on eve of Euro 2020
Benzema exits early as France beat Bulgaria in final pre-Euro friendly
‘Career highlight’ for captain Bale ahead of Wales’ Euro return
Kroos ready to prove Germany’s doubters wrong against France
Euro 2020 betting: The money keeps pouring in on France to win
USWNT breaks through late as Mewis powers win over Portugal
Mewis on target as US extend unbeaten streak
Sam Mewis scores in U.S. women’s 1-0 win over Portugal
Copa America: How to watch, schedule, odds, predictions
Nearly two thirds of Brazilians oppose hosting Copa America amid pandemic – poll
Soccer-Brazil score early and late to defeat Paraguay 2-0
Neymar helps Brazil to perfect six in WC qualifying
Brazil’s players say ‘against Copa America’ but won’t boycott
Tuchel signs Chelsea contract extension
Manchester City wins trio of Premier League awards
Conte to Tottenham off; now what for Spurs?
Liverpool Keep or Dump: Mo Salah, Naby Keita, Adrian all worth replacing Mark Ogden and James Tyler
Attention INDY 11 FANS Discounted Tix: Opportunity to purchase Discount Tickets for home INDY ELEVEN games at Carroll Stadium.
Ian Darke’s take on Euro 2020: Why France and Italy are my favourites, but watch out for Denmark
Jun 9, 2021Ian DarkeESPN.com writer
Euro 2020 might be a European Championship that defies prediction. Spread across 11 cities in the midst of a pandemic, who can know what fate has in store? One COVID-19 outbreak could derail even the most gifted of teams and even the schedule. Mix in the fatigue factor for players who have had an even more congested and hectic season than normal, and the tournament could develop into a survival of the fittest and freshest.
The peculiar, 24-team format also can produce tales of the unexpected. Portugal lifted the trophy in 2016 after finishing third in their group and only winning one game in 90 minutes throughout the whole tournament. Remember, the Euros have given us shocks before: Denmark got off the beach as late replacements for Yugoslavia and won the whole thing in 1992, and then there was the barely believable 150-1 triumph of Greece in 2004.
England have never won the competition or even made the final, but they’re among the favourites to do so this time. Drawn in Group D, they also have the added advantage of potentially playing all but the quarterfinal at their Wembley Stadium home, though no hosts have won since France in 1984.
Led by World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, Gareth Southgate’s squad is full of exciting young attacking talent like Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho. But key defender Harry Maguire is in a race to be fit, and without him, the defence looks vulnerable against the top teams.
There are also worries over the form of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. Jack Grealish, though, could be one of the players of the tournament if his shin injury is managed successfully and Southgate has faith enough to pick him. As in 1996, when England reached the semifinals and the nation sang “Football’s coming home” (it didn’t, as it turned out), Wembley will be a factor.
France are also fancied, as they still have nine of the 11 players who won the World Cup final three summers ago. Add in the return of Real Madrid‘s in-form striker Karim Benzema from his six-year international absence and the team looks more formidable than ever.
A front three of Kylian Mbappe, Benzema and Antoine Griezmann is frightening, and there is quality everywhere, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has not had his most convincing year at Tottenham Hotspur. France, though, are in arguably the hardest group — Group F — with Germany, Portugal and Hungary, who must be wondering what they did to deserve such awful luck in the draw.
Led by Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and the recently recalled Karim Benzema, France’s front three is more dangerous than ever. Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
Germany hope to give their long-serving coach Joachim Low a winning farewell, but confidence in this team does not seem high after a 6-0 humiliation against Spain and a shock 2-1 defeat against North Macedonia in the past nine months. Low has recalled veterans Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels to a squad that still possesses enough quality to be dangerous. The first match, at home to France in Munich, could be a barometer of their mood and form.
Portugal have a stronger squad than the one that triumphed rather freakishly in 2016. Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Ruben Dias lead a star-studded cast list, and if ultra-conservative coach Fernando Santos loosens his restraints, they are capable of retaining their crown. He probably won’t though.
Hungary look like cannon fodder against such powerhouses, especially after losing their star player Dominik Szoboszlai to injury on the eve of the tournament. But home advantage in a rocking Puskas Arena in Budapest might just help them pull off a surprise or two.
Belgium, ranked No. 1 in the world, will be strongly fancied for another long run like they had at the World Cup in 2018, when they reached the semifinals. They have more or less the same group of players, but talisman Eden Hazard has struggled for form and fitness, while the wonderful PFA Player of the Year, Kevin De Bruyne, has had eye surgery, which will at least mean he can avoid playing with a face mask. It will surely affect him, though. There’s also an ageing defence, which might get found out in the latter stages.
Denmark are in Group B with Belgium, as well as unpredictable Russia and debutants Finland, who will rely on the goals of Norwich City’s promotion hero, Teemu Pukki. The Danes look lively outsiders; with Kasper Schmeichel in goal, a tough defence that shut out England at Wembley, bags of experience and the clever promptings of Christian Eriksen, they are capable of giving anyone a hard time.
With Christian Eriksen leading the way, could Denmark pull a surprise or two at Euro 2020? Photo by Jan Christensen / FrontzoneSport via Getty Images
Italy are less cautious than in years past and on a long unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini. Ciro Immobile can bang in the goals with help from wide men Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne, while the Azzurri also feature a classy midfield, grizzled veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in defence and flying full-backs in Alessandro Florenzi and Leonardo Spinazzola. A doubt over the fitness of key midfielder Marco Verratti is a concern, however.
The Italians kick off the tournament in Rome on Friday with a Group A clash against a Turkey team boasting their best-ever defence, which let in just three goals in qualifying and took four points off France. This is a tough group that also includes Switzerland, tournament last-16 regulars, and Wales, for whom Gareth Bale might not be the force he was in their surprise run to the semis in 2016. Italy should top the group, but it looks tight after that.
What about Spain, who won three big tournaments in a row from 2008 to 2012 with a vintage team? That 6-0 win over Germany, in which Ferran Torres scored a hat trick, served notice of their talent, but there are questions to be answered.
Spain’s preparations have already been severely hit by positive COVID-19 tests for Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente, forcing others in the squad to train alone and Spain to hand debuts to 16 players in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Lithuania. Only an optimist would believe that other teams can dodge similar trouble, and there’s a feeling that this is an unpredictable team doomed to fall short unless Alvaro Morata or Gerard Moreno deliver plenty of goals.
Spain should have too much for Group E rivals Sweden (what a pity Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not fit), Marek Hamsik‘s Slovakia and Poland, who could nick second place in that group if Robert Lewandowski can maintain his record 41-goal Bundesliga form and avoid the nearly invisible showing he endured at the prior World Cup.
In England’s group, World Cup finalists Croatia still have 35-year-old Luka Modric pulling the strings, and while results this season have been modest, there is new talent in the likes of strikers Bruno Petkovic and Nikola Vlasic. Regardless of recent form, they still have enough good players (including Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic) to give England a tough opening game at Wembley.
The Czech Republic, finalists in 1996, are hard to read; but West Ham’s Tomas Soucek was one of the players of the season in the Premier League, and they’ll hope to recreate the exciting 2-1 win they had over England in Prague during qualifying, rather than repeat the 5-0 pasting they took at Wembley.
Also in that group are improving Scotland, who qualified for their first major tournament in 23 years. Led by Liverpool‘s Andy Robertson and shrewdly managed by Steve Clarke, a 2-2 draw away to Netherlands in a recent tuneup game served notice that the Tartan Army are likely to be very competitive. Clarke has cleverly downplayed the hype surrounding the clash with England, reasoning that games against Croatia and Czech Republic at Hampden Park represent their best chances of getting the necessary points to advance.
Netherlands themselves have missed the past two tournaments, and not everyone is sure Frank de Boer is the man to usher them into a more successful era. With no Virgil van Dijk to lead the defence, it’s hard to fancy them as possible winners. That said, with home-field advantage in all three games of a kind Group C that contains North Macedonia, Ukraine and Austria, the Netherlands look sure to advance to the knockout stages.
North Macedonia’s presence in their first-ever Euros comes via the Nations League D4 route, and it sparked a nationwide party. Veteran Goran Pandev, 37, is their torchbearer, and that amazing win over Germany in March will encourage them to believe they are not just making up the numbers. Could they be this year’s Iceland?
Forced to make a call at this range, France would be my pick to win it, with Portugal and Italy in contention and Denmark as a lively long shot.
Euro 2020 preview: Picks, scouting reports, must-see games, biggest ‘upset’ teams and much more
Jun 9, 2021ESPN The Euros are here! Get ready for Euro 2020 with our comprehensive preview. Will England dazzle? Will France dominate? Can Ronaldo lead Portugal to a second consecutive Euro title? ESPN Illustration
FRANCE: Can they make history with a second ‘double-double’?
The double-double of World Cup and European Championships: they did it in 1998 and 2000… but can they do it in 2018 and 2020?France could be the first country to achieve this twice. None of their biggest rivals — Germany, Spain, Italy — has been able, but France will never have a better opportunity to do it than this summer. The Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps generation in 1998 was great, a team built around collective spirit over individual stars, and they won the World Cup with no prolific striker and an incredible defence. In 2000, however, they were at their peak and added individual brilliance to their strength; with Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Youri Djorkaeff and David Trezeguet, they finally had a wonderful attacking line.
There are many similarities with the team of 1998/2000 and this group, anchored by Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and, beyond them, the Kylian Mbappe generation. Deschamps is the common thread and Les Bleus have never looked so strong.
This team has the DNA of its head coach, like 1998 had with Aime Jacquet, one of Deschamps’ mentors. Deschamps is first and foremost a pragmatic, conservative manager. His team will defend well and be well-drilled. He is also astute. After five years and 237 days without Karim Benzema since their falling-out over the Mathieu Valbuena scandal, the France boss eventually called him back in May to make this squad even stronger. At 33, the Real Madrid striker is in the best form of his life. He’s coming off another great season in Spain (23 goals, 9 assists in La Liga) and he’s hungrier than ever after missing on the success of 2018 and the near-success of 2016.
No other team at the Euros has this much talent up front. There’s a bit of everything: pace, efficiency, power, skills, strength, height, intelligence, nous. Mbappe is this team’s Henry. Benzema plays like Anelka, a goal scorer who liked to drop deep and organise the play. Antoine Griezmann is a bit of everyone. Olivier Giroud is like Trezeguet, a poacher and a box player. Ousmane Dembele, Kingsley Coman and Wissam Ben Yedder can start or come off the bench, bringing speed, close control and more goals.
PREDICTIONS: So who’s winning this thing?
Belgium. The window is closing for the Golden Generation, but Euro history is filled with guys who didn’t play much or perform during the season, only to excel for four weeks in the summer. I’m counting on you, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel… — Marcotti
Deschamps’ squad is head and shoulders above every other nation in the tournament. France have so much quality and depth that it’s virtually impossible to see the world champions failing to win this. – Ogden
Engl… I’m only kidding. France, France and France. Deschamps could have fielded two 23-man squads, and they’d end up meeting in the final. The strongest XI has everything, and Benzema now, which will be too tough for any opponent. – Laurens
France. The World Cup winners boast the strongest squad, and teams are able to make five substitutions in each game. Only a relatively tough draw has stopped France being shorter in the betting markets. – Olley
It’s France‘s to lose. When you can sleep easy after losing Aymeric Laporte to Spain, you know they’ve got incredible strength in depth. If you’re after a surprise package, though, keep an eye on Denmark. – Hamilton
France. Generally speaking, it seems pretty smart to bet on whichever team has a healthy Kante in it, especially when you can team him with Pogba and Mbappe. — Connelly
Portugal: They’re good from front to back and are stacked with players who are coming off impressive seasons with their clubs. If they can get through their group, they’ll fancy their chances against anyone. – Rob Dawson
I think it’s going to be a France vs. Turkey final, but whether that’s right or not, there will need to be a stewards’ enquiry if France don’t win this tournament. Blessed with abundant talent, they also demonstrably possess a tough ‘winning’ mentality. Plus ça change… – Graham Hunter
Runners-up in 2016 and winners in 2018, they already had Griezmann, Mbappe, Pogba and Kante and the rest. Now they’ve got Benzema, too, which is just cheating. France, of course. – Sid Lowe
Clear your calendar! The must-see games
From a plot perspective, the Euro schedule is nicely drawn. You begin with a couple of days of new-tournament honeymoon vibes and excitement, then you get to the good stuff. Here are the 10 group-stage matches that pack either the most intrigue or the most importance.
– June 13: Croatia at England. Per Caesars, England is the No. 2 favorite to win behind France. Their first match is a doozy, however, against a Croatia squad that is advancing in age but still features a lot of the talent that brought them to the World Cup finals — and past England in the semifinals — three years ago.
– June 13: Ukraine at Netherlands. We’ll find out a lot of what we need to know about the Dutch against a Ukraine squad made up primarily of Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk players, plus a couple of Premier Leaguers (Man City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko) for good measure.
– June 15: France at Germany. Group F is the Group of Chaos, featuring both the past two World Cup champions (France and Germany) and the defending Euros champ (Portugal). Germany have been the shakiest of the three, but they get to play all their matches in Munich’s Allianz Arena.
– June 16: Switzerland at Italy. Switzerland is loaded with talent from Europe’s elite leagues. If this turns out to be a bumpy road for the Italians, favorites in Group A, this is about when things might go awry.
– June 17: Belgium at Denmark. Belgium might be the best team in Group B, but the home team here could be the second best. Might home-field advantage and a sturdy midfield give the Danes an unexpected edge?
– June 17: Austria at Netherlands. Austria’s squad is loaded with talent from Europe’s best clubs. If Ukraine can’t get to the Dutch, it’s possible that Alaba, Sabitzer, Baumgartner & Co. still could.
– June 18: Scotland at England. English fans know exactly how talented their team is, but the sense of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” paranoia could be at a high approaching this rivalry match against Robertson, Tierney and the neighbors up north.
– June 19: Portugal at Germany. If we assume that France advances from Group F — not a given, but they are the overall favorites — then this becomes maybe the biggest match of the group stage, an eliminator between two of the most talented teams in the entire world.
– June 23: Sweden vs. Poland. Spain got what appears to be an easy draw in Group E, but this match could be another eliminator for second place, not to mention a showcase game for Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Sweden’s burgeoning stars (Dejan Kulusevski, Alexander Isak) in attack.
– June 23: France vs. Portugal. Few international matches are capable of fielding more pure talent among its 22 competitors than this one. We don’t yet know the stakes — Group F might be all sewn up, and it very much might not — but this one will please the eye regardless. — Connelly
NOVIS GUIDE TO THE EUROS
The UEFA European Football Championship, a mouthful better known as the Euros, brings together Europe’s top men’s national soccer teams once every four years to duke it out for continental glory (and a lot of money, naturally).
- After two years of qualification rounds, Europe’s 55 eligible teams are whittled down to 24 nations that move on to month-long Euros, which begins today.
The tournament consists of two stages: First, the three-game round robin group stage, which splits the 24 teams into six groups (more on them in a bit). The top two teams from each, along with the next four best teams overall, based on points during the round robin — three for a win, one for a draw — advance to the knockout stage.
- The knockout stage includes the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final that’s set for July 11th.
- While most Euros are hosted in one or two countries, this year’s tournament is pan-European, with 11 countries playing host during the group stage and first two knockout rounds before London takes over for the semis and final. Jolly good.
Second only to the FIFA World Cup, the Euros are an international BFD, even for us North Americans. So if you don’t have a nation to cheer for yet, here’s “the gist” on every group to help you pick.
Group A – Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland
The favorite: Italy. Riding a 27-game unbeaten streak, the Azzurri, as they’re known, are playing all three of their group stage matches in front of a home crowd in Rome. The world-ranked No. 7 team won’t have an easy run, but with one of the tournament’s best defenses, they have what it takes to go far.
The dark horse: Turkey could give Italy a run for their money, but to be fair, any of the three in the group could. We’ll get a good sense of things right off the bat though, when Italy and Turkey kick off the whole tournament today at 3 p.m. ET. We’re calling it: the winner of today’s match will win the group.
Who to watch: Gareth Bale, Wales. He’s the best thing to come out of the country since singer Tom Jones, but this tournament will show if the 31-year-old superstar still has it. If he sets the right tone, the rest of his team should follow, and they could surprise us all.
Group B – Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia
The favorite: Belgium. They’re calling this the golden generation of Belgian soccer. The roster is strong, experienced, and like Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings, has undeniable chemistry. This tourney is the moment of truth for stars like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne to finally seal the deal.
The dark horse: Denmark. They may not have a ton of starpower, but their midfield is reliable, their defense is solid, and their goalie Kasper Schmeichel (whose father Peter, also a goaltender, led Denmark to their 1992 Euro win) is one of the top in the tournament.
Who to watch: As previously mentioned, Lukaku, Belgium. An early prediction for “Player of the Tournament,” Lukaku is Belgium’s all-time highest goal-scorer and is only expected to add to his record and grow his lead, especially if Belgium can make it all the way.
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Group C – Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia
The favorite: Netherlands. This shouldn’t be too hard for them. Though the Dutch team missed the last Euros, they have a light schedule, a solid squad and a new-but-knowledgeable coach in Frank de Boer this time. They’ll also play all of their group stage matches at home, which helps.
The dark horse: Though we heavily debated Ukraine, we’re going with Austria, final answer. They’ve played in two Euros before but never made it past the group stage. We think third time’s a charm for the world’s 23rd ranked team. Time to make the von Trapp family proud.
Who to watch: Memphis Depay, Netherlands. Aside from having a burgeoning music career, he’s also a pretty great soccer player. He’ll likely be the main Dutch goal scorer during the Euros, and given the relatively easy matchups he’ll be facing, could be a top contender for the Golden Boot (awarded to the tournament’s highest goal scorer).
Group D – England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic
The favorite: England. The team that consistently underperforms has one of its strongest rosters in decades, and they have a lot to prove. They’ll face their longtime rivals Scotland and the team who ousted them from the last FIFA World Cup, Croatia, in the group stage; the quest for revenge should help boost their gameplay.
The dark horse: Croatia. They surprised many as the runners-up in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and though they’ve lost a few big names since then, they’re still scrappy contenders. The Czech team will be their biggest challenge, though.
Who to watch: Harry Kane, England. He’s the biggest name in English soccer these days, and as the captain, all eyes will be on him to lead The Three Lions (Lannister vibes, anyone?) to their first national championship since the 1966 World Cup, and their first ever Euros win.
🇪 Group E – Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia
The favorite: Spain. A perennial favorite who won back-to-back Euros in 2008 and 2012. And though the roster has changed from that experienced squad to a fresher, younger group of top talent, high expectations remain. The only problem? Two players, including captain Sergio Busquets, just tested positive for COVID-19.
The dark horse: Poland, but we’re going out on a limb here. Sweden might be everyone’s second favorite Group E team, but Poland has one of the all-time best goal scorers in their arsenal: captain Robert Lewandowski. He’s the reigning UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, and we think his leadership is powerful enough to get Poland through to the round of 16.
Who to watch: Alexander Isak, Sweden. With Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic (pronounced ee-brah-HEE-moh-vich) out of the Euros, Isak is the next big thing. He scored 17 goals in 34 games for his Spanish league team Real Sociedad, and he’s the youngest-ever goal scorer for his national team.
🇭 Group F – Hungary, Portugal, France, Germany
SOURCE: ARMANDO FRANCA/AP
The favorite: Portugal. The reigning champs are looking for a second Euros title, and with top talent like Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and up-and-comer Nuno Mendes, they have most of the tools on hand to repeat their 2016 success.
The dark horse: Not Hungary. In this “Group of Death,” three teams are powerhouses in international soccer, with Germany co-leading alongside Spain for most Euros titles (three), and France, the most recent FIFA World Cup winners. Sorry, Hungary.
Who to watch: Kylian Mbappé (pronounced mm-BAP-eh), France. At the age of 19 (and during his first senior international tournament with France, no less), he became the second-youngest goal scorer in a FIFA World Cup final, and is often compared to the GOAT Pelé. Now 22, he’s quick, controlled, experienced, and ready to win again.
How to watch
Buckle up, we’re in for a heck of a month. The group stage starts today and continues until June 23rd, then two rest days before the knockout stage begins. Check out the full schedule here, download the UEFA EURO 2020 app to keep up-to-date and watch all the games live on TSN in Canada and ESPN in the U.S. Olé!
THE GIST’S PICKS
HOW TO PLAN LIKE A PRO:
Ahh…the group trip! In theory, it’s very fun and easy. In practice, it’s a lot of planning. That’s where BACH comes in. Perfect for Bachelorette parties, the free app is your go-to for coordinating schedules, splitting bills and even booking group experiences (did someone say bar crawl?).
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WHAT TO SING ALONG TO:
The Azzurri, Italy’s national soccer team, usually has a theme song to celebrate big soccer events (not joking). And while most of them are painful to listen to, this rendition of “Azzurro”, featuring the 2004 Euro squad, is particularly comical.
WHAT TO READ:
The English team always has a lot of pressure heading into international tournaments, facing intense backlash when they couldn’t perform. Manager Gareth Southland wrote an open letter to his country, reminding English fans to be proud, gregarious and excited, but most of all, respectful.
WHAT TO LISTEN TO:
Speaking of English fans, they’ve been in the news lately for booing as the England team takes a knee before games. Check out this episode of The GIST of It for all the details on this awful act of racism.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Now that you have the info on all the best teams, it’s time to pick your favorite and grab some national gear from the UEFA Euros online shop to show your support.