# Contenders
Ranking the 10 teams most likely to win the Euros
England, France and Portugal are among the most fancied sides.

10. Croatia

soccer-sep-11-uefa-nations-league-croatia-at-spain Carlos Sanchez Martinez Carlos Sanchez Martinez

Despite reaching the final of the last World Cup, there are not many people tipping Croatia to prevail. A number of their biggest names, Luka Modric (35), Ivan Perisic (32) and Dejan Lovren (31) are probably past their peak, while it remains to be seen if some of the younger members of the squad are good enough to compensate for this issue. They should be good enough to come through a group featuring England, Scotland and the Czech Republic, but face the prospect of coming up against a Group F (widely seen as the ‘group of death’) team in the last-16 or quarter-finals, which could well be where their tournament ends.

Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic, Simon Sluga

Defenders: Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Borna Barisic, Duje Caleta-Car, Josip Juranovic, Domagoj Bradaric, Mile Skoric, Josko Gvardiol

Midfielders: Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic, Milan Badelj, Mario Pasalic, Nikola Vlasic, Luka Ivanusec

Forwards: Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic, Josip Brekalo, Bruno Petkovic, Mislav Orsic, Ante Budimir

9. Denmark

imago-20210602 Imago / PA Images Imago / PA Images / PA Images

Probably the team that Irish fans will be familiar with more than any other, having played them no fewer than six times since 2017, including in the qualifiers for this tournament. Christian Eriksen remains the obvious star, but the Danes are strong in other areas too, with Kasper Schmeichel, Andreas Christensen, Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg among their best players. They probably lack a truly top-class out-and-out striker, with 36-goal Eriksen comfortably the highest-scoring player in their squad.

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Frederik Ronnow, Jonas Lossl

Defenders: Daniel Wass, Joakim Maehle, Jens Stryger, Nicolai Boilesen, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Joachim Andersen, Mathias Zanka

Midfielders: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Thomas Delaney, Mathias Jensen, Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard, Anders Christiansen

Forwards: Youssef Poulsen, Martin Braithwaite, Jonas Wind, Kasper Dolberg, Andreas Skov Olsen, Mikkel Damsgaard, Robert Skov, Andreas Cornelius

8. The Netherlands

soccer-laenderspiel-germany-netherlands-2-4 DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

It is a measure of how far Dutch football has fallen in recent years that this is the first major tournament they have competed in since the 2014 World Cup, where a Louis van Gaal-managed side finished an impressive third. And their current squad is certainly not at the same level as vintage Netherlands teams, particularly with arguably the best centre-back in the world, Virgil van Dijk, missing through injury. Nonetheless, they won’t be an easy opponent by any means and have a handy-looking group that they should top, with progress to the quarter-finals at least looking eminently possible. They qualified for the tournament comfortably enough, beating Germany along the way, and while their squad lacks real depth, the likes of Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) and Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) would be good enough to get into most international sides. Like the Danes though, their attack appears somewhat weak in comparison to other top sides, with Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay the only players to have registered double figures in terms of goals at international level.

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen, Maarten Stekelenburg, Tim Krul

Defenders: Daley Blind, Stefan de Vrij, Joel Veltman, Matthijs de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Denzel Dumfries, Patrick van Aanholt, Owen Wijndal, Jurrien Timber

Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, Frenkie de Jong, Davy Klaassen, Marten de Roon, Donny van de Beek, Ryan Gravenberch, Teun Koopmeiners

Forwards: Memphis Depay, Quincy Promes, Luuk de Jong, Steven Berghuis, Donyell Malen, Wout Weghorst, Cody Gakpo

7. Italy

italy-v-czech-republic-international-friendly SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Another side who missed out on qualification for the last World Cup, the Italians will be keen to make up for that disappointment, particularly as one of the host nations. They should top a group that features Turkey, Wales and Switzerland, while a likely last-16 encounter against Ukraine or Austria shouldn’t be too daunting either. Whether they are good enough to advance any further than the quarters is uncertain, though many of their key players have plenty of big-game experience. They qualified with 10 wins from 10, albeit in a weak enough group in which Finland were the runners-up. The likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci should provide plenty of leadership and solidity at the back, though could be vulnerable to pacey forwards, while Nicolo Barella, Jorginho and Marco Verratti are good options in midfield. They also boast one of the most exciting attacks in the tournament, with Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne among those expected to feature.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alex Meret, Salvatore Sirigu

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Emerson Palmieri, Alessandro Florenzi, Leonardo Spinazzola, Rafael Toloi

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella, Bryan Cristante, Jorginho, Manuel Locatelli, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stefano Sensi, Marco Verratti

Forwards: Andrea Belotti, Domenico Berardi, Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Giacomo Raspadori

6. Spain

esp-spain-portugal-international-friendly-match SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

As often seems to be the case with Spain, you feel like this tournament could go either way — their squad is good enough for them to be considered contenders (albeit very much as an outside bet), but not to the extent that you would totally rule out a flop either. Since their famous three triumphs in a row between 2008 and 2012, they have disappointed for the most part at major tournaments. They were knocked out at the group stages of the 2014 World Cup and only got to the last-16 four years later, as was the case at the 2016 Euros too. With Rodri, Koke and Thiago likely to feature, their midfield looks strong, while the addition of former France underage international Aymeric Laporte is a major boost to their defence. However, goalkeeper looks like a potential problem, with their most experienced stopper David de Gea having a difficult season at Man United. Equally, in terms of the attack, there are sides with far better options — attackers such as Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres and Dani Olmo are not obviously good enough to win you a major tournament. That said, they coped well without a world-class striker when La Roja triumphed in 2012, employing a false-nine system to great effect.

Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Robert Sanchez, Unai Simon

Defenders: Aymeric Laporte, Jose Gaya, Jordi Alba, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, Diego Llorente, Cesar Azpilicueta

Midfielders: Marcos Llorente, Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Pedri, Thiago, Koke, Fabian

Forwards: Dani Olmo, Mikel Oyarzabal, Gerard Moreno, Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore, Pablo Sarabia

5. Portugal

esp-spain-portugal-international-friendly-match SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

We are now coming into the realm of teams with a very good chance of triumphing and Portugal belong in this category. The holders possess the player probably still regarded by many as the best at the tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo, yet there are also world-class options elsewhere, including Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix and Ruben Dias. Dias’ likely centre-back partner Jose Fonte is 37, but he has just been an integral part of Lille winning the Ligue 1 title in France. One obstacle is the group stage, which also features France and Germany along with Hungary, while should they progress, England could be waiting in the last-16.

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Rui Patrício, Rui Silva

Defenders: Joao Cancelo, Nelson Semedo, Jose Fonte, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Nuno Mendes, Raphael Guerreiro

Midfielders: Danilo Pereira, Joao Palhinha, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Moutinho, Renato Sanches, Sergio Oliveira, William Carvalho

Forwards: Pedro Goncalves, Andre Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota, Goncalo Guedes, Joao Felix, Rafa Silva

4. Germany

imago-20210602 Imago / PA Images Imago / PA Images / PA Images

There is no doubt that Germany’s squad is among the strongest in the competition, while the decision to recall the previously exiled Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels boost their options further. In addition, Antonio Rudiger, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner are all coming in off the back of Chelsea’s Champions League triumph. As mentioned above with Portugal, simply getting out of the group won’t be straightforward and an early exit from the competition, as happened in their horror showing at the 2018 World Cup, is not out of the question. On paper though, they possess one of the strongest squads in the tournament, with the likes of Muller, Havertz and Hummels far from guaranteed a place in the starting XI.

Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno, Manuel Neuer, Kevin Trapp

Defenders: Matthias Ginter, Robin Gosens, Christian Gunter, Marcel Halstenberg, Mats Hummels, Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Antonio Rudiger, Niklas Sule

Midfielders: Emre Can, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Kai Havertz, Jonas Hofmann, Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Florian Neuhaus

Forwards: Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Jamal Musiala, Timo Werner, Leroy Sane, Kevin Volland

3. Belgium

world-news-november-16-2019 Bruno Fahy Bruno Fahy

Another team to be reckoned with. In Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, Belgium boast players talented enough to feature in a World XI at their best. With the likes of Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel and Thorgan Hazard expected to feature, their midfield has a solid look, though Eden Hazard has struggled with form and injuries since joining Real Madrid in 2019, while their defence, with 32-year-old Toby Alderweireld and 34-year-old Jan Vertonghen likely to feature, looks a little unconvincing for a side with genuine aspirations of triumphing.

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels

Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Thomas Meunier, Jason Denayer, Dedryck Boyata, Leander Dendoncker, Timothy Castagne

Midfielders: Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli, Yannick Carrasco, Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard, Dennis Praet, Hans Vanaken

Forwards: Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi, Jeremy Doku, Leandro Trossard

2. England

england-v-iceland-uefa-nations-league-group-a2-wembley-stadium PA PA

A nation fancied by many to prevail, largely due to the abundance of exciting young players their underage system has produced in recent years. It’s hard to think of a team in the tournament or indeed world football with superior attacking options. The likes of Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho are good enough to get into nearly any side in the competition but may struggle to find a place in England’s starting XI. Elsewhere they are slightly less well off. They probably lack a world-class goalkeeper — Dean Henderson can’t be considered at that level yet and Jordan Pickford may even get the nod ahead of him. Their success or lack thereof could also be heavily dependent on the fitness of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, key players who are currently recovering from long-term injuries. Harry Kane, meanwhile, is coming off arguably the best season of his career from an individual perspective and is another player likely to be instrumental to their hopes of triumphing. There is also the considerable boost that they will have home advantage in most of their games, including the semi-finals and final if they get that far.

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford
Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice
Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling.

 1. France

france-v-ukraine-fifa-world-cup-2022-qatar-qualifier-saint-denis Niviere David / ABACAPRESS.COM Niviere David / ABACAPRESS.COM / ABACAPRESS.COM

It’s hard to look beyond the current world champions when tipping a winner for this tournament. Picking out an area of weakness in their expected starting XI is very difficult. Hugo Lloris at 34 has seen better days and has not enjoyed the best of seasons at Tottenham, but that is very much clutching at straws, as he is still hugely experienced at this level. The belated return to the squad of prolific Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema looks a major plus, while Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is being talked of as a potential Ballon d’Or contender primarily on the back of his influential performances in the Champions League this season. Their defence also looks solid, with Presnel Kimpembe and Raphael Varane among the top centre-backs in world football. Provided they can maintain harmony off the pitch — something that has not always happened at previous major tournaments — there is no reason why French supporters shouldn’t expect their side to reach the semi-finals at a minimum. 

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Mike Maignan 

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Leo Dubois, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Jules Kounde, Clement Lenglet, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante, Thomas Lemar, Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot, Moussa Sissoko, Corentin Tolisso 

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder, Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Marcus Thuram

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