It is just days away from the start of EURO 2020 and a summer filled with enticing international tournaments. TGH’s preview of this year’s edition of the EUROs continues with a look at the four nations in group E featuring a former EURO champion. The four countries battling in Group E will be Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
The 21st ranked international side ran through their qualifying group with eight wins out of 10 matches. Disappointing results at the last World Cup and Nations League saw the Polish FA bring in Portugese boss Paulo Sousa. A last-minute winner from England in World Cup qualifying saw their good start under the new boss receive its first blemish.
Poland’s strength is their attack and Robert Lewandowski. He scored 41 goals in 29 matches for Bayern München in the Bundesliga and won the league title. Piotr Zielinski is an underrated playmaker in Italy with eight goals and 10 assists for Napoli and will be hoping to provide more for Lewandowski. The defense will be asked a lot of questions, even after a switch in formation by the manager. Key players Piatek and Mateusz Klich have struggled to find their best form at club level this season. This Poland side has a different feel from 2018, but it all depends if they can provide for Lewandowski up front.
Slovakia qualified via the Nations League after beating Ireland in penalties and then an extra-time winner saw them through versus Northern Ireland. They were able to beat Russia in World Cup qualifying, only after failing to beat Cyprus and Malta.
Inter’s Milan Skriniar arrives this summer fresh off a domestic title with Inter Milan and is regarded as one of the best CBs in the world. Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has shown his class, but is coming off a season filled with injuries. The attack is surrounded by question marks. Does Marek Hamsik still have the same quality at 33? Will play-off hero Michel Duris score more goals after just two in the domestic season in Cyprus? Slovakia won’t give up much with such a strong defense, but the attack may not hold up their end of the bargain.
Prediction: Group Stage Exit
Spain’s last win in a knockout round was at the EUROs in 2012. For a nation gifted with loads of soccer talent, it has been a disappointing nine years. After 2018, Luis Enrique took over the reins and has had a successful Nations League campaign, beating Germany 6-0.
Spain has lots of talent this summer to choose from. Rodri and Koke have the ability to retain the ball and spray passes to teammates. Daniel Olmo scored crucial goals for Spain to get them out of some sticky spots in World Cup qualifying, and should be a crucial piece this summer. Fernan Torres has shown his scoring ability for Manchester City at just 21-years-old. With no Sergio Ramos, questions will be asked about who is the new leader of this defense. Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte switched nationalities from France to Spain and could take over that role. César Azpilicueta and David De Gea have been selected and will resume their roles in the defense. Luis Enrique has a big decision to make: stick with the old guys or give the next generation more minutes?
Janne Andersson’s side had a tough qualifying group, being drawn with Spain, Norway and Romania in their group. The Swede’s got demoted to Nations League B after a horrid campaign which saw just one win in six in the top division. Zlatan came back to the national team for World Cup qualifying and won two matches in two attempts.
There will be no Zlatan this summer for Sweden because injury and the search for goals starts and stops with Alexander Isak. He scored 17 goals in La Liga at the age of 21. Dejan Kulusevski and Emil Forsberg will have to provide goals and assists for their side. Sweden conceded 14 goals to Croatia, Portugal, and France, all of who will be at the tournament this summer. If Sweden can find some strength in defense and goals from their Zlatan-less attack, then expect Sweden to make a run.
Prediction: Round of 16