We’re sure this isn’t your first rodeo. So, get those beers in the fridge, get the flow of snacks at the ready, and lock the pesky family up in the attic with a bucket of fish heads for them to chow down on, because this next month is all about the football.
* Disclaimer: the Big Kick Off doesn’t recommend locking the family in the attic. Do so at your own risk.
Also, keep your eye on the Big Kick Off throughout the entire duration of the competition. We’ll have you covered with all that sweet content.
Anyway, swiftly getting back on topic, even the build up to the European Championships is laced with excitement.
Fans spend hours upon hours debating potential winners, under achievers and dark horses. It’s the latter we’re going to be talking about today.
You see, we all think the likes of France, England, Portugal, or Germany will be battling it out for the famous trophy. But we know that doesn’t always tend to be the case.
On most occasions, we get a team that gels and goes further than expected, providing some upset eliminations along the way. Just look at Croatia during the 2018 World Cup, for a quick recent example.
Now we aren’t saying these three nations below are going to do a Greece in 2004 and win the entire tournament. But these are squads with little hype around them, yet they could provide plenty of banana skins along the way.
So, let’s get into it, and see how far these dark horses can potentially go.
On the surface of it you might think Poland are just a one-man squad, propped up by the talent of, Robert Lewandowski.
While his record for his country isn’t anywhere near as prolific as it is at Bayern Munich. If he can carry on some form this time around, who knows where Poland could finish up.
Away from their star man, Poland’s squad is sprinkled with talent.
Two experienced goalkeepers in Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski. Jan Bednarek, Arkadiusz Milik and Kacper Kozlowski have all impressed with their performances across Europe of late.
The fact they arguably have the best striker in world football within their squad, merely adds to the quality at the disposal of Poland’s national team.
They were drawn into Group E with Spain, Sweden, and Slovakia.
On the surface of it, you may think Spain will be favourites to top the group. However, we’ll make a bold prediction, and say Poland could seriously push them for that honour.
Just with the x-factor of Lewandowski, that alone gives them the edge over Slovakia, and a Sweden side missing, Zlatan.
Poland were very unlucky during Euro 2016, when they were knocked out in the last eight on penalties, by the eventual winners, Portugal.
Once safe passage from the group stages is confirmed, there’s no reason why this Poland team can’t make it back to the last eight round again, and possibly, beyond.
Turkey kicked off the entire football festival against Italy in the opening game in Rome.
Now, that was a tall order for any first game. Even with the heavy 3-0 defeat, we wouldn’t be writing the Turkish off straight away.
They’ll have Group A games against Wales and Switzerland to play, and achievable points to earn.
Realistically, you could be looking at Turkey to finish second in their group, and advance to play the winner of Group B. Bar Belgium, they shouldn’t overly fear anybody in that group. Looking at that, like Poland, there’s no reason why this Turkey squad can’t make the quarter finals, at least.
The whole squad is packed with optimistic young talent, with the average age coming in at 25.
They aren’t just bright-eyed hopefuls either. Turkey has plenty of players available to them, playing in Europe’s top leagues.
Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu, along with Zeki Celik and Merih Demiral have held the backline brilliantly. With Turkey only conceding three goals throughout the entire qualification process. An attribute that’ll serve them well with tournament style football.
AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu will offer genuine creativity, as he ended the most recent Serie A season as the player with the most created chances.
Despite all this young talent, it’s a 35-year-old Burak Yilmaz that’s the jewel in their crown.
The veteran scored 16 goals for Lile, helping them to an unlikely Ligue 1 league triumph.
Out of all our picks here today, these are still truly the ones to keep an eye on.
We wanted to get away from the likes of Ukraine or Russia, and go for someone different, without picking somebody ridiculous.
Group D is certainly one of the more open ones at Euro 2020.
Understandably, England will be many peoples favourites to top the group. But second place, and that third-place play-off spot will be highly contested between Scotland, Croatia, and Czech Republic.
Scotland opened their campaign against Czech Republic. It was vital they get at least a draw, if they wanted to progress. Despite the bad result, they certainly created chances, and will still fancy themselves against an ageing Croatia side.
They’ve been terribly unlucky with injuries ahead of the tournament, and opted not to bring Leigh Griffiths too.
Manager Steve Clarke called up uncapped talents like Billy Gilmour and David Turnbull, with the latter been Celtic’s star man this season.
Premier League names like Scott McTominay, Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson, and John McGinn round out the squad, and will be looked upon to provide key chances. Southampton’s Che Adams, along with Lyndon Dykes who scored 12 goals for QPR this season, may be looked at to put those chances away.
This could be the one pick that comes back to haunt us. But Scotland are defensively sound, have enough marquee names to pull them through sticky situations, and seemingly have a great togetherness within the group.
All key factors when talking about a squad that’s ready to provide some upsets, and advance to the knockout stages, while representing their country in its first major tournament since 1998.
So, I’m sure we’ve left some side off that you think deserve a mention.
If so, drop that team in the comment section below, we’d love to hear them.
As we previously mentioned, keep an eye on the Big Kick Off, for Euro 2020 coverage with a difference. Hopefully, it’s a summer to remember.