We take a closer look at a few teams that aren’t frontrunners to go all the way, however, with the amount of quality possessed in their ranks, that could possibly upset the applecart and send some of the tournament favourites home packing sooner than expected.
Spain - 8/1
Almost everyone is understandably sceptical about Spain’s chances in this particular tournament. The Spainish are not the force they were a decade ago and don’t really match up very well against the likes of France, Germany, Belguim and Portugal.
If I had to knit pick, the disadvantage that the highly-fancied teams could possibly face is being spoiled for choice, while La Roja have their iconic tiki-taka style of play that requires little to no tinkering under former-Barcelona boss and 2014/15 FIFA World Coach of the Year, Luis Enrique.
“Lucho” as he’s affectionately known in his homeland is the last manager to win the UEFA Champions League at Barcelona and it would be foolish to overlook his expertise. Personally, I strongly feel that Espana can all go all the way and win the title. A cheeky punt on Spain to meet Portugal in the ‘Name The Finalists’ market is priced up at 50/1.
Italy - 8/1
Roberto Mancini is another manager that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Gli Azzurri mentor inspired Manchester City’s first Premier League title back in 2011, a few years after winning the Serie A title, three seasons on the trot, with an Inter Milan side that featured an 18-year-old Leonardo Bonucci.
Now 34, Bonucci has around 20 trophies to his name, but would cherish a victory for his nation as his proudest moment in football, alongside captain Giorgio Chiellini (36), both central defenders have the responsibility of guiding the younger generation in a squad that have the perfect blend of experience and fearless youth.
Mancini boasts a magnificent record with the Azzurri, after 30 games at the helm, he’s won 21 times (including 17 clean sheets), drawn seven matches and suffered just two defeats at the hands of France and Portugal. Italy will be serious contenders when we get to the knockout stages.
Netherlands - 14/1
The Netherlands will be relying on their new crop of talent to elevate that nation to the top-tier of international football, after disappointingly missing out on qualification to the 2016 edition in France.
The major talking point has to be talismanic leader and central defender Virgil Van Dijk not being able to pull on the famous orange shirt. Liverpool’s rock at the back hasn’t played competitively since suffering a terrible anterior crucial ligament injury but is well on the way to a full recovery.
One to watch out for is Wolfsburg’s Wout Weghorst, the towering 1.97 metres tall centre forward banged in 20 goals and nine assists from 34 appearances in the Bundesliga, inspiring the Wolves to Champions League qualification for the first time in six seasons. Weghorst has a powerful midfield behind him and will surely take over Van Dijk’s role during set pieces for Frank De Boer’s team.
The Oranje previously failed while bearing the favourites tag, let’s find out if the underdog tag could change their outcome this time.
Croatia - 35/1
Two months after losing to France in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final, coach Zlatko Dalic’s men were thrashed 6-0 by Spain in the group stages of the Nations League tournament. This was the moment the “Chequered Ones” realised that to further their progression they required a massive overhaul in defence.
Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic retired following the defeat to France, while a host of new faces were selected by Dalic to replace the ageing defensive unit. The new boys along the backline will have to play their part in order for the strength of the team to shine through.
Creatively everything comes from their incredible quality and depth in midfield with the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric and Mario Pasalic expected to pull the strings behind the attack of Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic. Kramaric netted 25 goals and bagged six assists for Hoffenheim across all competitions, but the Croatian’s player to look out for is Wolfsburg’s 22-year-old winger Josip Brekalo.
Turkey – 66/1
Turkey are priced as massive outsiders largely because there are only a handful of recognizable players named in their squad. Unlike Croatia, the “Crescent-Stars” are blessed with a formidable backline that is capable of keeping them in a contest more often than not.
Midfielder Irfan Can Kahveci caught the eye, scoring a hattrick against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League, however, his primary task will be playing in the deeper midfield role to help Zeki Celik, Caglar Soyuncu and Merih Demiral provide a solid spine.
The creative force is expected to feature dead-ball specialist Hakan Calhanoglu, the highly-rated Cengiz Under and Getafe starlet Enes Unal. Veteran striker Burak Yilmaz and youngster Yusuf Yazici linked up for Lille with 23 goals and nine assists between them that yielded a French Ligue 1 title from the hands of Paris Saint-Germain.
At 66/1, Turkey are well worth a punt to upset the odds and replicate Greece’s 2004 heroics.
Poland – 80/1
Robert Lewandowski broke the German record for most goals scored in a single season, astonishingly finding the back of the net 41 times in 29 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern Munich. Poland’s spearhead is a gamechanger, who was cruelly denied a much-deserved Ballon d’Or in the previous season.
The only unfortunate period of Lewandowski’s 2020/21 campaign was missing out on a month of football which saw him miss crucial UEFA Champions League knockout clashes that resulted in the Bavarians exit much earlier than expected.
Compared to previous tournaments, Lewandowski has a more capable squad that could prove to be the surprise package of the competition.
Mateusz Klich was a key member of the Leeds United team that impressed hugely, Jan Bednarek is now a seasoned Premier League campaigner at Southampton. While Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski will be influential in midfield and don’t forget that the Eagles are blessed with two top-tier goalkeepers in Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski.