EURO 2020 Group A could be one of the most competitive groups at EURO 2020, as there are no obvious whipping boys. What defines this group is a solid backline across all sides relative to the team’s offensive capabilities, granted that doesn’t mean we’re in for slow and uneventful fixtures.
EURO 2020 Group A Fixtures
Turkey v Italy – Friday, June 11
Wales v Switzerland – Saturday, June 12
Turkey v Wales – Wednesday, June 16
Italy v Switzerland – Wednesday, June 16
Switzerland v Turkey – Sunday, June 20
Italy v Wales – Sunday, June 20
Italy – Never Rule Out the Italians
Italy will enjoy the luxury of playing all of their group fixtures at home, which should help the Azzurri in their quest to reach the latter stages of the tournament. Ending EURO 2020 with a title, or at least a solid finish, would end an era of underachieving for the fourth-time World Champions.
Italian streak of embarrassing international performances reached its peak when the team failed to qualify for Russia 2018, however, things seem to be looking up. Italy had to start from ashes, and they have done an exceptional job forming what is now a highly competitive team.
Their improvement was led by Roberto Mancini, who is to be credited with Italy’s rise to prominence, leading the Azzurri to a 21-7-2 record. Perhaps the most impressive is the Italian defence, which conceded only 0.35 goals per game since their embarrassment in 2018. On the other side of the pitch, Italy averaged 2.26 goals per game.
Italy is no longer the same team they were during the day of Graziano Pelle and Luca Tony. The team lacks the go-to man but they managed to adapt to the situation with a more possession-focused playstyle.
That, however, doesn’t mean Italy lack strength in the frontline. With Ciro Immobile and Domenico Bernardi, Lorenzo Insigne, Andrea Belotti, and Federico Chiesa, Italy has plenty of options to cause chaos in the final third.
Switzerland – Traditionally Uninspiring
Switzerland historically struggled in European Championships, and it’s hard to find a solid argument in their favour for EURO 2020.
Even though the Red Crosses regularly featured in big tournaments, the Swiss progressed out of the group only once (EURO 2016).
The last time the Swiss squad made it past the last 16 was way back in the 1954 World Cup.
As big of a disappointment the Red Crosses have been over the years, this iteration of the team seems to be one of the most energetic Helvetia has had in years. That’s largely due to Vladimir Petkovic’s choice to reinforce the team with younger legs in Fennis Zakaria, Djibril Sow, and Kevin M’babu. None a key component of the team, but a welcome change in an ageing squad.
Switzerland’s style over the years has shifted over from a more-defensive minded approach to a more possession-based game. However, that hasn’t helped the Swiss’ problems in the front, where they lack the creativity and clinical finishing to pose a serious threat to most teams at EURO 2020.
A strong midfield can take you only so far, but having as many difficulties scoring goals as Switzerland makes it hard to be overly optimistic Petkovic’s men will break the historical trend of uninspiring results.
Turkey – Balance is the Key
It’s been 19 long years since Turkey came under the spotlight with their remarkable run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals. The Crescent Stars were then led by Senol Gunes, who has returned to the team for EURO 2020 at 69-years-of age to try and emulate his success from almost two decided ago.
Since their miracle run in Japan and South Korea, Turkey struggled to find the same success, failing to qualify for every World Cup since, and their semi-finals run at EURO 2008 remains their biggest accomplishment since the start of the century.
Regardless of Turkey’s somewhat uninspiring results in recent years, the fans can be optimistic about this side heading into EURO 2020. Fielding youngsters in combination with veteran names in Burak Yilmaz and Hakan Calhanoglu, Turkey have what seems like a perfect balance of young and old.
Where Turkey shine is in their defence, where you can find up-and-coming stars such as Caglar Soyuncu, Mehdi Demiral, and Ozan Kabak, who are a part of Turkey’s biggest strength and key players that will make or break Turkey’s chances to compete for the title. During the preliminaries, Turkey conceded only three goals, none from play.
And we haven’t even touched Turkey’s creative midfield, spearheaded by Milan star Calhanoglu, who has created 98 chances this season – the most out of any players in the top-five European Leagues. And you can’t forget about his ability to score from way outside of the box, as not only a deadly passer but an efficient long-range scorer.
If Calhanoglu won’t be able to get the job done, Turkey still boast a veteran figure in Burak Yilmaz, who was the shining star in Lille’s title-winning run in Ligue 1, with 18 goals from 23 starts. Yilmaz has also added a hat-trick in Turkey’s 4-2 victory over the Dutch, further proving he still “has it” at 35-years-of-age.
Wales – Greater Than the Sum of its Parts
Perpetual underdogs, Wales enter EURO 2020 in high spirits following their semi-finals appearance at EURO 2016, where the Dragons eliminated Belgium, only to get (narrowly) edged out by the eventual champions, Portugal.
It was a tournament to remember and one that won’t easily be forgotten. Their remarkable run at the latest EURO will surely add some motivation to the young squad as they look to make another statement on the international stage.
When you talk Wales, you can’t look past Gareth Bale, who is the sole star name on the team, even though he rarely put on his national jersey. That, however, has its benefits, as opponents will get naturally dragged towards the four-time Champions League winner, creating a lot of space and opportunities for Harry Wilson, Dan James, David Brooks, and Kieffer Moore to take advantage of.
Robert Page has plenty of talent at his disposal to form the right strategy for Wales to take on their Group A opponents. Bale and James could both operate in the front or move to the midfield to make room for Moore to do his job in the final third.
Overall, Wales has the talent to be competitive, although we wouldn’t expect them to be involved in any spectacular matches – Wales are averaging only 2.0 goals per game. Regardless, if your opponents can’t score against you, then you shouldn’t worry too much about losing games. And let’s not forget that Portugal made it out of the 2016 EURO group with three draws.
EURO Group A Predictions
Prediction: Turkey to reach the quarter-final – 1 unit – 3.60 at Bet365
Prediction: Turkey to reach the semi-final – 1 unit – 9.00 at Bet365
Prediction: Turkey to be the highest-scoring team – 0.5 unit E/W – 101.00 at Bet365
Prediction: Belgium & Turkey (Finalists) – 0.25 units – 81.00 at Bet365
Prediction: France & Turkey (Finalists) – 0.25 units – 67.00 at Bet365
Prediction: Italy & Turkey (Group Dual Forecast) – 1 unit – 2.70 at Bet365