The 2010 World Cup Runner Up and the 2014 World Cup Third Place winners will be looking to continue their recent run of European success, albeit without many of the past players that they owe that previous success to, such as Wesley Sneijer, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, and others. However, a new, younger Dutch regime has risen through the ranks in recent years that may challenge more traditional European powerhouses. Matthias De Ligt, Frankie De Jong, and Donyell Malen are some names Euro 2021 viewers should take note of, as all of them have the potential to tear apart any team, including the subsequent four, while on their brightest form.
While many believe that Belgium’s “Golden Generation” ended with the 2018 World Cup, Belgium still has loads of world class talent across Europe. Romelu Lukaku, only age 27, is perhaps having one of his best seasons at Inter Milan this year with 28 goal contributions in only 27 games this year. Kevin de Bruyne, highly regarded as the best midfielder in the world, is playing at his consistently high level on a Manchester City team that is steamrolling the Premier League. Lastly, perhaps Belgium’s best player when healthy, Eden Hazard has had a very lackluster career at Real Madrid so far, but if there is one player in Europe not named Cristiano Ronaldo that can take over a game, it’s the Belgian winger.
One of the biggest question marks in Euro 2021 is England, which is why they sit at 3. They could either go out in the group stage losing to teams like Croatia, Scotland, or the Czech Republic or they could dominate the knockout stages all the way to the championship. England is still in the middle of a large transition from what it used to be with the likes of Gerrad, Lampard, and Terry. With a large pool of young emerging talent such as Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Reece James, and Declan Rice and a steady pool of veteran leadership such as Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, England is poised to make a deep run at Euro 2021.
It would feel wrong to put Portugal any lower than 2 on this list, considering they are the defending European champions and arguably have a much better squad than that 2016 team. The headlines will be all over Ronaldo, but he has quite a supporting cast, including breakout Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes, Manchester City defender Ruben Dias, and Atletico Madrid starlet João Felix. This new-look Portugese team is unproven so far, but they have more than enough talent to challenge in 2021.
Lastly, and rightfully placed at number one until someone displaces them as defending world champions, is France. In 2018, we saw a France team march through Russia and win the World Cup, lead by Griezzman, Mbappe, Giroud, Pogba, Kante, Varane, and Lloris, and this team is largely unchanged since then. If anything, Mbappe has only gotten better and is a top 5 player in the world, and this team as a whole has had more time to gel and build chemistry. There isn’t much left to say here, France is the undisputed Euro 2021 favorite.