Euro 2020 Group B Preview: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Russia.
Group B of the Euro 2020 includes one of the top three favorites to win the tournament, two teams with expectations to advance to the knockout stage, and one debutante to a major international event.
Belgium aspires to acquire the first silverware amidst their current golden generation. The Red Devils' rise began in 2014 when they reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup. A 3-1 upset in the quarterfinals to Wales in the 2016 Euro was a disappointment. They responded by advancing to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup, where they lost to the eventual winners, France. Belgium was perfect in their ten Euro qualifying matches while leading all teams with 40 goals. The three goals they surrendered in those qualifying matches tied for the fewest conceded.
Romelu Lukaku leads the attack with seven goals in the Euro qualifiers. The Inter Milan striker had 24 goals in his domestic campaign last season. He is joined up top by Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard after a season marred by several injuries. Kevin De Bruyne patrols the midfield, but the Manchester City star will not initially be ready to play due to the head injury he suffered in the Champions League final. Manager Roberto Martinez has one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois.
The Red Devils are the number one ranked team in the world by FIFA. The ELO ratings place them second. DraftKings lists Belgium at +750 odds to win the tournament.
Denmark returns to the Euro after failing to qualify for the 2016 tournament. The Danes responded to that setback by reaching the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup. The Red and Whites came out of nowhere to surprise the continent by winning the 1992 Euro tournament. They finished in second place in their Euro qualifying matches to Switzerland by going unbeaten in their eight games with four victories.
Christian Ericksen is the primary goal-scorer. The attacking midfielder has 36 goals and 24 assists in just over 100 international caps. He scored only four times in his 34 games with Inter Milan this season. The Danes have a familiar name in goal with Leicester City’s Kaspar Schmeichel between the posts.
Denmark is ranked 10th in the world by FIFA. The ELO rating places them 9th. DraftKings place them at +2500 to win the tournament. The Red and Whites will play all three of their group stage matches on home soil.
Russia will play two of their three matches at home in the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg. Home field advantage helped the Bears reach the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup as the host nation. They shocked Spain in the first knockout stage with a victory via penalty kicks. Russia has yet to advance beyond the group state at a Euro. They finished in second place in the Euro qualifiers with two losses to Belgium being their only defeats. Their 33 goals were the fourth most of all 55 competing teams.
All but four members of the roster come from the Russian Premier League. Artem Dzyuba leads the attack. The 6’5 striker led all players in the Euro qualifiers in big chances and shots inside the box. Midfielder Aleksandr Golovin scored five goals in 21 games for Monaco this season.
Russia is ranked 38th in the world by FIFA. The ELO ratings place them 35th in the world. DraftKings lists the Bears at +10000 to win the event.
Finland will be playing in their first major international tournament in the history of the national team. They qualified for this event by finishing in section place to Italy in their group. The Eagle owls surprised France with a 2-0 upset victory in a November friendly. However, the team is winless in their last six matches with four losses.
The talisman for Finland is Teemu Pukki. The Norwich City striker scored 10 of the team’s 16 goals in the qualifying matches. The Eagle owls have one of the best keepers in the Bundesliga in Lukas Hradecky, who helped Bayer Leverkusen give up the fewest goals in the league outside the top-four.
FIFA ranks Norway as the 54th team in the world. The ELO ratings place them 40th. DraftKings lists the Eagle owls at +50000 odds to win the tournament.