With the European Championship only around a month away, making accurate predictions is somewhat feasible, even though some are bound to be horribly wrong.
Either way, this is the first in a series of articles that will predict the outcome of all UEFA Euro 2020 groups.
Euro 2020 Group A Prediction
Italy Indisputable Favorites
On June 11, Italy and Turkey will kick off the European Championship in Rome.
Those two are accompanied by Switzerland and Wales, making the group highly competitive. Regardless, Italy are the undisputed favourites. They won a difficult Nations League A group and possess the strongest squad out of these four teams.
If this wasn’t enough, the Azzurri will have home advantage in all their group matches.
Stadio Olimpico will only allow 25% of its normal capacity, but around 18,000 spectators should still provide sufficient support, even though not all of them will be Italian.
Turkey Marginally Favored Over Switzerland
Determining the runner-up is a trickier task. Switzerland did well to obtain six points in a Nations League group containing Spain, Germany and Ukraine. Their only win was awarded to them, though. Either way, three draws in four matches against Spain and Germany is impressive. Their start to World Cup qualifying was also solid, despite their uncharacteristically underwhelming 1-0 against Lithuania.
Turkey come off the back of a phenomenal start to World Cup qualifying but suffered greatly from inconsistency in Nations League B. That could, though, be attributed to Şenol Güneş being fresh in charge and experimenting with tactics, learning his best team. It seems things are finally starting to click for the Turks, highlighted by their phenomenal wins against the Netherlands and Norway.
Also, Güneş was the mastermind behind Turkey’s third-place finish at the 2002 World Cup. The pedigree and experience of being the manager behind Turkey’s best-ever side cannot be underestimated. Recency bias could be at play here, but Turkey might very well be emerging as a footballing power.
The Olympic Stadium in Baku will allow 50% of its normal capacity, around 34,000 spectators. The bond between Azerbaijan and Turkey is close. Most Azeris will be unofficial Turks for the duration of the Euros. In other words, Turkey will basically enjoy home advantage in their matches against Wales and Switzerland. Turkey’s recent success, superb manager and pseudo-home advantage gives them a slight edge over their main runner-up contender, Switzerland.
Wales the Victim of a Highly Competitive Euro 2020 Group
Ryan Giggs has managed Wales since 2018 and can thus be held more accountable for Wales’ results in the Nations League. Which he probably doesn’t mind, since The Dragons had a successful campaign, winning their group undefeated. But a cause for concern is unveiled upon closer inspection. Several 1-0 wins against Finland, Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland. Very narrow wins with late goals against teams that are all weaker than Italy, Turkey and Switzerland. And a 0-0 draw against a historically struggling Irish side.
This persisted in World Cup qualifying, where they obtained a 1-0 win against the Czech Republic – also with a late goal (albeit a Czech side that held Belgium to a draw). The Czech Republic are notably stronger than the likes of Ireland, but Wales’ triumph over them is too anecdotal for any major conclusions to be reached.
The point is that Wales’ recent success can largely be attributed to having the margins on their side and that it’s only a matter of time before they don’t manage a clean sheet or don’t score that crucial late goal. This risk increases the tougher the opposition is. All Group A teams are better than those Wales defeated in the Nations League. Wales are a good team, but this group is slightly too competitive for them to advance to the knockout phase.
To read our predictions for other groups, click below.