The 2020 European Football Championship makes its long awaited debut a summer late due to that global pandemic you might have heard about. They might not be churning out vaccines as well in Europe as we are in the states, but vaccination rates are high enough that all stadiums will have significant capacity filled. For Group E, those host stadiums will be in Seville and Saint Petersburg, with Spain as the official group hosts.
- Spain (9 pts)
- Sweden (4 pts)
- Poland (3 pts)
- Slovakia (1 pt)
They might not be the same dominant team that won back-to-back Euros in 2008 and 2012, but Spain are still a European powerhouse. 180-cap man Sergio Ramos misses out on his first major tournament for Spain since becoming a full senior international, but Spain are still solid at the back with Eric Garcia, Pau Torres and former Frenchman Aymeric Laporte. Like usual, Spain’s strength lies in the midfield, with plenty of creative options. Their forward line is a step below most world class front threes, but Alvaro Morata and company will feast on the weak defenses of Group E. Spain should easily win Group E; anything but a 9-point sweep would be a surprise.
The Swedes are the “best of the rest” in Group E with a very underrated squad. They are one of my favorite dark horses for the tournament, even without lead goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Alexander Isak should fill in with no problem, coming off a 17-goal season in La Liga for Real Socidead. The blue and yellow are also well off in attacking midfield, with Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg and Juventus’s Dejan Kulusevski. Manchester United’s Victor Lindelӧf leads the back line, in front of Everton #2 Robin Olsen. Sweden have a mediocre squad with tournament experience, so winning at least one knockout round game would be a huge success.
One of the most popular dark horse picks among football media, the Poles enter the tournament with the best player in the world, Robert Lewandowski. Chances will be much less frequent and successful for Lewa than those delivered at Bayern Munich, so LewanGoalSki will have to be as clinical as ever. Poland’s strongest position is definitely goalkeeper. 36-year-old West Ham starter Lukasz Fabianski is held on the bench for his country by Wojciech Szczesny of Juventus, who also played at Arsenal (when they were actually good). Overall, a third-place advancement is the middleground of expectations for Poland.
Relying on a 33-year-old who averaged less than a goal every 10 games in the Chinese League isn’t exactly a strong predictor of success for any football team. Marek Hamsik, Slovakia’s all-time leading scorer and captain, has certainly struggled recently, but he’ll be putting Slovakia’s attack on his back one last time this summer. SVK are slightly more secure on the defensive end, thanks to the appropriately named Serie A champion Milan Skriniar. Making it out of the group would be a massive success for one of the worst squads in the tournament.