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8 best matches to watch in the Euro 2020 group stage
Euro 2020 is of course right around the corner, with the competition set to get underway on Friday the 11th of June.
This year’s competition is once again starting out with 24 teams competing across six groups.
Some groups are filled to the brim with top talent, such as Group F, which has rightly been dubbed this year’s ‘group of death’.
While other groups are no doubt set to throw up some interesting clashes, pitting old rivals against one another on the big stage.
With three games being played a day most of the time during the group phases, you may not have time to watch every single match.
So, at 101, we have picked out eight must-watch games that will take place during the Euro 2020 group stage.
1) Turkey vs Italy (Friday, June 11, 2021)
Our list has to start with the opening match of Euro 2020.
Italy will kick-off the first-ever pan-European tournament at the Stadio Olimpico, against one of the dark horses this summer, Turkey.
Roberto Mancini has made some curious picks this summer, including only selecting two recognised forwards: Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti.
Nevertheless, in front of their own fans for the first time since Italia ’90 at a major competition, the Azzurri will be looking for a win on matchday one.
But Turkey are no soft touch. Built on solid foundations, and with Burak Yilmaz in attack, the Turks could be far trickier than some imagine.
2) Croatia vs England (Sunday, June 13, 2021)
Here we go again. Croatia and England will meet for the fourth time in four years in the opening round of matches.
In their last meeting in the Nations League, England came from behind with goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane to win a memorable match 2-1. Prior to that, the sides had drawn 0-0 in the Nations League.
Of course, Croatia beat England, however, in the one that truly mattered: the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup.
Ivan Perisic cancelled out Kieran Trippier’s opener, while Mario Mandzukic scored the winner in extra time.
So who will come out on top at Euro 2020? One suspects both England and Croatia would be pleased with a draw in this one.
3) England vs Scotland (Friday, June 18, 2021)
The first game you must watch, especially if you are a fan of either nation, is England vs Scotland.
Scotland have not featured at the Euros since 1996, where they famously lost to England in their group clash at Wembley Stadium.
England would come out on top on that occasion thanks to strikes from Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne. Gary McAllister missed a penalty for the Scots.
While England will be most people’s favourites coming into this clash at Euro 2020, Scotland will no doubt be desperate to get one over on their bitter rivals, who they have not beaten since 1999.
The pair last faced off when qualifying for their 2018 World Cup.
England won one tie 3-0, but drew the second meeting 2-2. Both games were highly entertaining affairs with brilliant atmospheres on and off the pitch.
And this year’s fixture, which takes place on Friday the 18th of June at 8 PM UK time, is no doubt set to prove one of must-see the ties of the group stage.
4) France vs Portugal (Wednesday, June 23, 2021)
As already mentioned, Group F is Euro 2020’s ‘group of death’.
Why? Because apart from France and Portugal, it also features Germany and Hungary.
France and Portugal are both talked about as potential Euro 2020 winners: could this group match end up being a prelude to the eventual Euro 2020 final?
France, of course, have a copious and somewhat unfair amount of talent at their disposal – including future Ballon d’Or winner, Kylian Mbappe.
Portugal, meanwhile, are the reigning European champions. While the Iberians are also stacking with top stars, including Man City’s Ruben Dias, amd Man United’s Bruno Fernandes, who have been two of the best players in the Premier League this term.
And, despite being 36, Cristiano Ronaldo is still very much at the top of his game: will this be Ronaldo’s final appearance at a major tournament?
These two sides also have a fair bit of history. They faced off in the Euro 2016 final, with Portugal coming out on top on that occasion.
Yet, instead of having to wait to see these European powerhouses clash in the final, we are being treated to this elite game in the group stages.
5) Netherlands vs Austria (Thursday, June 17, 2021)
The next game you should watch during the group stages is Netherlands vs Austria.
Netherlands are certainly going an interesting team watch over the next few years: the Dutch rebuild begins this summer.
A golden generation of Dutch players – Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben – have hung up their international boots, the Netherlands are trying to emerge from an internal crisis after they missed out aplace at both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Dutch are returning to the international main stage at Euro 2020. They do so with a fresh crop of young talent that includes Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Ryan Gravenberch, Donny van de Beek and Donyell Malen.
And whilst the Netherlands do have a fairly easy group to navigate, Austria is likely to be their toughest test and it will be interesting to see how this new-look side holds their own, especially without the services of Virgil van Dijk.
6) Italy vs Wales (Sunday, June 20, 2021)
After making it all the way to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, Wales fans are no doubt eager to see their side back in action this summer.
Gareth Bale was getting back to his best during the end of his Tottenham loan stint, and he is no doubt once again set to be a key figure for Wales this summer.
Bale, though, will also be supported by young blood, such as Daniel James of Manchester United and Bournemouth’s David Brooks.
As for Italy they, like the Netherlands, have undergone a rebuild of sorts over recent years, but should now be considered a potential dark horse pick for Euro 2020.
Never underestimate the Azzurri.
Roberto Mancini’s side includes a good mix of experienced talent – such as Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti – as well as young, promising emerging stars like Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Federico Chiesa, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Moise Keane.
7) Portugal vs Germany (Saturday, June 19, 2021)
Portugal have never beaten Germany. However, could Euro 2020 be different?
In four previous matchups, Germany have beaten Portugal four times.
The Germans have triumphed over the Portuguese at Euros 2008 and 2012, plus the 2006 and 2014 World Cups.
The aggregate scores in those matches have been Germany 11 – Portgual 3.
Yet, this time around Portugal appear to have the better, brighter squad compared to the Germans: will that prove true on the pitch?
8) Germany vs France (Tuesday, June 15, 2021)
The final must-see match in Euro 2020 group stage is another clash of European titans: Germany vs France.
The pair are historically two of the world’s best sides and it will no doubt be an occasion when they face off on June 15th.
Along with Portugal and Hungary, France and Germany make up Group F.
Though France have enjoyed far greater success in recent years, Joachim Low’s Germany can never be discounted, and they have recalled some of the old guard – Thomas Muller, Matts Hummels and Jerome Boateng – for this summer’s tournament.
Should Germany indeed beat France, it could set up a very interesting group stage, which could potentially see the World Cup holders fail to get out of their group, especially if they are then unable to beat Portugal in their final group game.