Euro 2021: Tournament Preview, Title Contenders, Players to Watch, FYIs


We are just nine days away from the start of the 2020 European Football Championship, also known as EURO 2020. Euro 2020 had to morph into Euro 2021, on account of the global pandemic, but now that the world is moving back towards a sense of normalcy, it’s time to celebrate and enjoy massive international events again.

And Euro 2021 will be a month long tournament de force, celebrating and showcasing the best of football on the continent synonymous with the most superior brand of football.

Let’s run through some of the European Championship 2021 FYIs, leading contenders to win it, key players, important dates, odds, how to watch and much much more. The action begins on June 11 with Italy taking on Turkey in a Group A clash, and concludes on July 11 with the tournament final in London. All 51 matches will be available for consumption on ESPN and ESPN+.

Six groups of four teams each will battle it out across 11 different host cities in what will be the 16th edition of the tourney. Let’s get the Euro 2021 party started already.


Leading Contenders

England (FIFA Ranking #4 Odds +500)

Three Lions seemed to arrive ahead of schedule in their rebuilding plans, at the last World Cup, surprisingly many with a final four appearance. Now is the chance for England to take that positive momentum from that deep run and convert it into a trophy.

Key Player: 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner and the latest in a long line of supposed saviors of English football, Harry Kane. He wants out of Tottenham Hotspur this summer, we’ll see if his unsettled club future might affect his international tournament performance.

France (FIFA Ranking #2 Odds +500)

As reigning World Cup champions, this is their tournament to lose, and anybody who deems them not to be the favorite is certainly going out on a limb. Especially with Kevin De Bruyne an injury doubt for Belgium.

Key Player: The second most expensive player on the planet (behind only club teammate and Brazilian galactico Neymar), Kylian Mbapper is hailed as the next player who could enter Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo rarified air.


Belgium (FIFA Ranking #1, Odds +600)

Six of the top seven teams in the world, according to FIFA, reside in Europe as well as seven of the top ten, with the Belgians leading the way. The 2018 World Cup was Belgium’s best opportunity to

Key Player: Eden Hazard has struggled with injuries, and when fit, a lack of form, since he moved to Real Madrid.

germany shirt

Germany (FIFA Ranking #12, Odds +750)

The last time this global superpower was on the world stage, they embarassed themselves, and the Germans still remain ranked outside the top 10. Time for redemption?

Key Player: Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan was one of the most underrated players in world football this past season. He’s among the best, but doesn’t always get the plaudits.


Others to Watch

Spain (FIFA Ranking #6 Odds +750), Portugal (FIFA Ranking #5 Odds +800) and Italy (FIFA Ranking #5+1100 will all have a lot of sway over how this tournament plays out.

Champion Prediction: Belgium

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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