Euro 2020 Group E Preview: Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden

by Big Al Staff

Euro 2020 Group E Preview: Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden.

Group E of the Euro 2020 features one of the favorites to win the tournament with three other teams that all feel they can advance to the knockout stage either from a second-place finish or by earning one of the four third-place slots in the Round of 16.

Spain is a three-time Euro champion that would become the first nation to win this event four times if they lift the trophy next month. La Furia Roja has taken a step back from their golden generation, where they won the 2008 Euro, the 2010 World Cup, and then the 2012 Euro. The Red Fury lost their Round of 16 matches in the 2016 Euro and the 2018 World Cup.

For the first time since 2004, center back Sergio Ramos will not be representing the national team, with manager Luis Enrique opting to keep the Real Madrid star off the final roster. Talent and depth remain aplenty. 28-year-old Juventus forward Alvaro Morata will lead the attack up top. Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara plays a vital role in the midfield. Barcelona’s Jordi Alba and Manchester City’s Aymeric LaPorte will headline the backline. A COVID outbreak earlier this month required Enrique to use the under-21 team in a friendly with Lithuania on June 8th. Midfielder Sergio Basquets and defender Diego Llorente tested positive for the virus. Llorente has since tested negative twice and got cleared to play. 

Spain ranks 6th in the world in the FIFA rankings. The ELO ratings place Spain 6th. DraftKings lists La Furia Roja at +900 to win the tournament. 

Sweden will be competing in their sixth straight Euro, although they have not reached the knockout stage in the last three tournaments going back to 2004. The Blue and Yellow reached the semifinals of the 1992 Euro before reaching the quarterfinals in the 2004 Euro. The Swedes played in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup. They finished second in the Euro qualifying group, five points behind Spain. 

Sweden will not have the services of the legendary Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who considered coming out of international retirement for this event before injuries derailed those ambitions. Ibrahimovic last played for his national team in the 2016 Euro when they did not advance out of the group stage. Manager Janne Andersson’s current five-year run with the team began after that tournament. 17-year-old Alexander Isak features up-top. The Real Sociedad phenom scored 17 goals in La Liga this season. RB Leipzig star midfielder Emil Forsberg patrols the midfield. Manchester United center back Victor Lindelof features on the backline. 

FIFA ranks the Blue and Yellows 18th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 17th. DraftKings lists Sweden with +7500 odds to win the tournament.

Poland has qualified for a third straight major international tournament for the first time in its history with their participation at this event. The White and Reds reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 Euro, where they lost to eventual champion Portugal on penalty kicks. They finished at the bottom of their group in the 2018 World Cup. A manager change earlier this year has yet to yield better results under new skipper Paulo Sousa. Their only won in 2021 was against Andorra in a World Cup qualifying event. 

Robert Lewandowski is the talisman for the team. The reigning World Player of the Year scored 41 goals in 29 matches for Bayern Munich this season. Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski patrols the midfield. Southampton’s Jan Bednarek has been training separately with a thigh injury but hopes to lead the backline. Sousa has two top-notch keepers at his disposal in Juventus’ Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski. 

Poland is ranked 21st in the world by FIFA. The ELO ratings place them 32nd. DraftKings lists the Eagles at +7500 to win the tournament. 

Slovakia advanced to the knockout stage in the 2016 Euro in their first appearance at the tournament. The Falcons did not qualify for the 2016 World Cup after reaching the knockout stage in 2010. They finished in third place in their Euro qualifying group but beat the Republic of Ireland via penalty kicks in the semifinal playoff. Pavel Capel was terminated as manager after that match, with assistant Stefan Tarkovic taking over to lead the national team to a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland to qualify for this event. 

The Repre are led by their 34-year-old captain in the midfield, Marek Hamsik, their all-time leader in goals and caps. Inter Milan center back Milan Skriniar leads the backline. Newcastle United’s Martin Dubravka is their keeper. 

Slovakia ranks 36th in the FIFA rankings and 41st in the ELO rating system. DraftKings lists them at +40000 to win the tournament. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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