Opinion: Who will win Euro 2020?
Who will win this summer's European Championships?
It's a question which has divided our writers, as the clock ticks towards the big kick-off in Rome on Friday night.
Eleven Manchester United players will be involved in the tournament and, naturally, we'd like to see all of them go deep into the competition and hope at least one of them experiences glory when the trophy is lifted at Wembley on Sunday 11 July.
But it's time for the head to overrule the heart, as we delve into our predictions and it's four sides - all featuring at least one Red - who stand out...
ENGLAND – ADAM MARSHALL
England need to take advantage of Wembley staging so many games and ram home the benefit having fans back in the stadium brings. There’s no doubting a World Cup semi-final place represented real progress under Gareth Southgate, but this is probably a more talented squad than the one we took to Russia in 2018. Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell are the two best left-backs in the Premier League, while Jack Grealish has the platform to emerge as a genuine superstar.
Marcus Rashford has taken on more responsibility but the big question, for me, is whether Harry Maguire is fit enough to lead the defence. If he is, expect England to go far, even if there could be a hugely tricky tie as early as the round of 16 if the Three Lions win the group.
FRANCE – IAN MCLEISH
In every major international tournament, there’s one group which is pinpointed by the media as the dreaded ‘Group of Death’ and when it comes to Euro 2020, that honour undoubtedly falls to Group F, where heavyweights Germany and France (winners of the last two World Cups, remember) are pitted against Portugal (reigning Euros champions) and Hungary. If Paul Pogba’s France can safely navigate their way out of that trap, they could be the team to beat in the tournament. With Pogba, they have a player with first-hand experience in bossing a major tournament and he’ll be one of a number of Les Bleus desperate to erase the memory of losing the 2016 final to Portugal. N’Golo Kante starred in the last major football final and will have that Champions League triumph spurring him on to even greater heights, while Kylian Mbappe is ready to show the continent what he can do on one of the biggest stages of all.
The rest of the squad is littered with talent and experience, which, with a fair wind and luck on their side, could propel them all the way to the final at Wembley on 11 July. It’s just unfortunate for Didier Deschamps and co that it may be where they come up against a resurgent, unstoppable Scotland, with player of the tournament Scott McTominay capping a glorious month by scoring a late winner under that famous arch. Good luck Scotty and come on Scotland!
PORTUGAL – SAM CARNEY
To the neutral, Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning side was curiously underwhelming. Yes, they were powered by the otherworldly talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, while Nani and Ricardo Quaresma were on hand to provide flashes of brilliance. Youngster Renato Sanches caught the eye too, but the Selecao’s first major international success was built on a rock-solid defence, marshalled by veterans Pepe, Jose Fonte and Ricardo Carvalho. Swansea City reserve Eder scored the winning goal in the final, which seemed like a fitting way to claim the trophy for a side which won just one of its seven tournament games in 90 minutes.
Fernando Santos’s side struggled at the last World Cup, but five years on from their triumph in Paris, it’s hard to argue against this being their most impressive squad since the days of Luis Figo et al. Ronaldo, Sanches, Pepe and Fonte are all still there, while our very own Bruno Fernandes and Football Writers’ Player of the Year Ruben Dias arrive at the tournament as arguably the Premier League’s two standout players of last season. Throw the exciting Joao Felix and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota into the mix and you can easily envisage a repeat triumph to match Iberian rivals’ Spain’s 2008 and 2012 exploits. They’ve just got to make it out of that ‘Group of Death’ first…
SPAIN – JOE GANLEY
It feels quite some time since Spain dominated world and European football for four years between 2008 and 2012, when they claimed a World Cup and two European Championships. And there's been plenty written about the decline of La Liga recently. But a look at Spain's squad at once reminds you of the quality La Roja have at their disposal, and it would be foolish to write them off ahead of a tournament where arguably only France have the look of an outstanding team. Five of the last eight Champions League winners were Spanish; six of the last eight Europa League winners hailed from the country (I hear there was a game in Gdansk recently). Luis Enrique's team is studded with talent – so much so that legendary veteran Sergio Ramos has not even made the squad.
David De Gea is there, of course, as are Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara and Manchester City's Rodri. As you'd expect, Spain are strongest in that midfield area, with Koke and Sergio Busquets hoping to control games. But up front they also have Villarreal's prolific Gerard Moreno, who went somewhat under the radar until his heroics in the Europa League final against United. At the back there is experience in Jordi Alba and Champions League-winning Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta. Maybe Spain aren't the favourites, but they'll be as pleasant to watch as ever, and just might be poised to surprise a few people. Viva Espana!
The MUTV pundits also picked out their winners during this week's episode of the Debate, which you can watch above:
David May: I'll go Belgium.
Wes Brown: France.
Danny Webber: France.
Ben Thornley: Too many individuals Belgium.
Wes: I've always said Belgium Maysie, and it just never happens.
Ben: I'm going to veer away from your Frances and your Germanys and I'm going to go with Italy.
Mark Sullivan: Italy? No chance!
Maysie: Too many individuals!
Do you agree with our choices?