EURO 2020 Group E is an exciting group featuring Spain, Poland, Sweden, and Slovakia. However, it might not be too appealing for the latter three, who will have to make several trips between the hot Sevilla and the lukewarm St. Petersburg for their group matches. As if Spain needed an additional advantage to make it out of the group stage.
Group E Fixtures
Poland vs Slovakia – Monday, June 14
Spain vs Sweden – Monday, June 14
Sweden vs Slovakia – Friday, June 18
Spain vs Poland – Saturday, June 19
Slovakia vs Spain – Wednesday, June 23
Sweden vs Poland – Wednesday, June 22
Spain – A More Direct Approach
Progress to the last-16 is expected from Spain, especially with the return of Louis Enrique to the squad and the added advantage La Roja will enjoy with welcoming their three group opponents at their home ground. The expectations from the fans are that much higher after Spain’s three successive major tournament failures, finishing 23rd and 10th at the last two World Cup tournaments, and the still alive memory of Spain’s loss to Italy in the first round of EURO 2016 knockout stage.
Things are bound to improve this time out, with the UEFA Champions League-winning coach Enrique back in charge. What’s more, the 51-year-old had made it very clear that EURO 2020 is at the top of his priority list on the day when he was appointed as Spain’s new boss.
Results and changes followed, with Spain moving away from their possession-based football to a more attacking style. While La Roja still like to have the ball at their feet, the focus has shifted towards a more direct style.
The big story surrounding Spain’s team heading to EURO 2020 is the lack of Real Madrid players – particularly Sergio Ramos, who got axed by Enrique. A controversial decision that didn’t go down well with the fans has sparked the debate of Spain’s weaknesses in the backline.
Fielding primary young and inexperienced players, Spain’s defence caused concerns, however, with Sergio Busquets, Rodri and Koke in the midfield, their backline can expect to receive some help if things go sour.
Where Spain shine, however, is in the attack. With Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres upfront, Spain boast a deadly duo capable of ruthless finishing touch that makes this team one to watch this tournament.
Since 2018 World Cup, Spain have averaged the most shots per game out of all 24 teams at the tournament, further confirming the change of playstyle. This has left Spain somewhat vulnerable in the back. Regardless, La Roja field enough individual talent to make it out of the group with relative ease.
Poland – Good, But Not Great
Despite qualifying for their third consecutive major football tournament, the Polish fans aren’t too excited about their team’s chances to succeed. And you can’t blame them.
Poland were the team that had “has a lot of promise” numerous times before, yet the Eagles consistently failed to deliver. They crashed out early in 2008 and 2012 EUROS, failed to make it past the quarter-finals in 2016, and added another group-stage exit at the 2018 World Cup.
Years of disappointing results led to the sacking of Adam Nawalka, who got replaced by Jerzy Brezcek, who set his mind on improving the national side. Some progress was felt, starting with a successful qualification run for EURO 2020 with only one loss to their name, yet the atmosphere in the team is not what you would call promising.
Having implemented a more reserved playstyle, Brezcek found himself under fire from the fans who criticised his style of play which failed to enable Robert Lewandowski to showcase his goalscoring prowess. Fast forward to January, Brezcek got replaced by Paulo Sousa, who reintroduced a more attacking-minded style of play.
That has, however, revealed Poland’s weakness in the back, where they seemed very fragile. What’s more, the late coach change won’t do this side any favours, and it all seems like Polish’ success will heavily rely on Lewandowski and his performances in the front.
The Eagles enter EURO 2020 looking weaker than the side that travelled to Russia in 2018, and there are definitely more negatives to take from this team than positives. Another international flop seems likely.
Slovakia – Not Good Enough
The Falcons are expected to finish Group E last, and it’s hard to argue against that. Since their return to international soccer in 2018, Slovakian have posted a 8-5-10 record, and things don’t seem to be getting better anytime soon, particularly if we consider that they have failed to score in over 1/3 of those games.
Pessimism is the theme of this team, and the lack of quality doesn’t make things much better. The Repre suffer from restricted tactical options, relying solely on Marek Hamsik to create chances. Although Stefan Tarkovic tried to fix the situation by recalling Vladimir Weiss, it’s not like his return will fix Slovakia’s problem elsewhere.
You can, however, find some quality in Falcons’ backline, where they field Inter’s Milan Skriniar, Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka and Milan’s Juraj Kucka. At the very least Slovakia have a decent defence, but that won’t win the games; it won’t improve their chances to make it out of the group by much, and it definitely will not help their scoring issues.
This side was good 11 years ago, when they put together the memorable run at Worlds, reaching the last-16, only to get eliminated by the eventual finalists, Netherlands. Hasmik and Kucka are the only two faces who remained from that lineup and now feature in a team lacking their predecessors’ flair.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Slovakia end their EURO 2020 run with no more than a couple of goals. They have produced only 1.26 per game since the 2018 Worlds and scored more than once in only 9/23 games during that stretch.
Sweden – Not Flashy, But Efficient
Sweden enter EURO 2020 following a spectacular run at 2018 Worlds, where they reached the quarter-finals, securing their best international result since claiming bronze in 1994. After their remarkable run, Sweden kept Janne Anderson at the helm, where he continued developing the Scandinavian side.
The Blue and Yellow boast an excellent backline, where they field a strong foundation of Victor Lindelof, Albin Ekdal and Kristoffer Olsson. Joining the trio is Emil Forsberg from the left, in combination with Sebastian Larsson.
When we talk Sweden, we can’t forget to touch on their attack either. The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the team has made all the headlines, and rightfully so. The always controversial Zlatan has reunited with his nation’s team after a spectacular season with AC Milan and is now ready to compete on the international stage once again.
He will work alongside Dejan Kulusevski to form a solid pair that will threaten unprepared opponents. Still, where Sweden shines is counterattacking, and you can’t have a better man for the job than Ibrahimovic.
Sweden might not be moving any mountains at EURO 2020, but they can be happy with the group they’ve landed in. With Poland’s regression and the uninspiring Falcons as the only two teams standing in their way to a second-place finish, the Blue and Yellow must feel confident in their chances to make it out alive.
A top-two will be Sweden’s goal for this group, and a potential quarter-finals run. While repeating their success from 1992 seems plausible, we don’t expect to see another miracle run from the Scandinavian dark horses.
EURO 2020 Group E Predictions
Prediction: Sweden & Spain (Group Dual Forecast) – 1 unit – 2.37 at Bet365