Euro 2020 is just a few days away. It’s been 5 years since football fans last had an international European tournament, and 3 years since France won the 2018 World Cup in Russia, after the original Euro 2020 tournament was cancelled last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article will be an attempt to display to you each Manchester United player who is playing in the Euros this summer, formatted by which groups they are in. United have 12 players representing their respective countries in this years tournament.
24 of Europe’s best and brightest international sides will be competing to overthrow Portugal as the tournament’s crown champions. The teams are divded in to 6 groups of 4 teams each, and the top two from each group will automatically qualify for the knockout stages. After these 12 teams, the four best teams who finished 3rd in their groups will also qualify, creating the 16 sides who will compete in the knockout stages.Embed from Getty Images
This is where it gets a little (really) complicated. The first knockout game will see the runner up of Group A face the runner up of Group B. Group A winners will face the Group C runner up. The winner of Group C will face who comes third in either Group D/E/F. The winners of Group B will face 3rd place of Group A/D/E/F. The runner up of Group D will face the runner up of Group E. The winner of Group F will face 3rd place of Group A/B/C. The winner of Group D will face the runner up of Group F. The winner of Group E will face 3rd place from Group A/B/C/D. Each knockout game is paired with another knockout game to create the next round of knockouts, and this continues until there are only 2 teams left, who will compete in a one-match final to decide the winner of the tournament.
Basically, all the knockout games are pre-set, but we won’t know who faces who exactly until the group stages end (obviously).
Group A consists of Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales. Although only one of what are considered to be Europe’s “top” international sides are in this group, don’t be fooled. This group contains one of my choices for this year’s “dark horse” teams in Turkey. Most players around Europe have had to endure incredibly tough and robust fixtures this season, as leagues have had to put fixtures much closer together, however Turkey’s players have actually played fewer minutes than most squads this season, and so are not as “tired” as other squads may be this summer.
From Group A, United duo Daniel James and Dylan Levitt will be the ones battling it out for Wales to win the group. Both players have had erratic seasons this year, with James only playing 15 league games (11 starts) during the campaign, and Levitt only actually playing 10 league games this season (3 on loan at Charlton Athletic and 7 with Istra 1961, in Croatia).Embed from Getty Images
Group B features Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Russia. No United players feature in this group, however former striker Romelu Lukaku does. This group has a pretty clear winner from the outset (Beligum), however the race for 2nd spot will be an intriguing one. Each of the remaining 3 sides to have players that currently feature or have previously featured in Europe’s top 5 leagues such as Cristian Eriksen, Teemu Pukki and Aleksandr Golovin, so it will become an interesting battle to see who can join Belgium in qualifying from Group B towards the knockout phase of the tournament.Embed from Getty Images
This group features both former and current Manchester United players. The group consists of the Netherlands, Austria, North Macedona and Ukrane, and is certainly a group that could spring a suprise on the general public. Although many may predict the Netherlands to win the group, this is not as clear-cut as many may think due to the Netherlands’ recent form and the loss of their main man Virgil van Dijk due to injury. Austria do have a suprisingly good side, with the likes of David Alaba, Konrad Laimer, Marcel Sabitzer and Marko Arnoutovic set to feature for them this summer.
From this group, there are 3 former and current United players, all in the Netherlands squad. Summer 2020 signing Donny van de Beek was called up by manager Frank de Boer despite only playing a bit-part role for the Reds this season. Former United men Memphis Depay and Daley Blind will be potentially lining up to start for Ons Orange’s this summer, with a view of getting to the knockout stages of a tournament for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.Embed from Getty Images
Group D contains 5 Manchester United players. With England, Scotland, Croatia and the Czech Republic all vying for knockout spots, it could be tough to call who will actually qualify past the group stages. England are favourites to win the group, and will be looking to get one back over Croatia after they knocked out England in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in extra time.
From a United perspective, many fans will be looking to cheer on Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Dean Henderson for England, with Rashford, Maguire and Shaw all potentially having pivotal roles in the starting XI. Henderson will be looking to dethrone Jordan Pickford as Gareth Southgate’s preferred choice in goal, but with the United academy graduate taking the No.13 shirt, it looks like Pickford will be the No.1 for England this summer. As for the 5th United man in the group, Scott McTominay will be looking to help lead Scotland to the knockout stages during their first international tournament appearance since the 1998 World Cup in France.Embed from Getty Images
Group E sees Spain take on Poland, Sweden and Slovakia. In what is sure to be a hotly contested group, Poland will be looking to their talisman and 2020 “The Best” winner Robert Lewandowski to guide them to the group stages for the 2nd time in their history. Spain have some interesting dillemas this summer, as their goalkeeping position is set to be taken from David de Gea and given to Atletic Bilbao‘s Unai Simon, and the ommision of Spanish and Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos certainly throws up some suspicions as to how strong Spain will be in this tournament.
This group sees the afformetioned David de Gea’s Spain clash with Victor Lindelof‘s Sweden, in a clash of United’s more suspect members of their back line this season. Lindelof may yet perform a vital part in Sweden’s potential success as he is one of the most high profile players in the squad, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being ruled out of the tournament, players will look to Lindelof to help lead.Embed from Getty Images
There’s always one of these… Group F is certainly this tournament’s “Group of Death”. A group containing 3 of the tournament’s favourites, it will be a facinating watch to see France, Germany and Portugal battle it out for top spot. Also containing Hungary, the group looks set to be the showpiece group for the group stages of the tournament, with no room for error for any of the 3 main teams in the group.
Within this Group of Death, there is also a Clash of Titans, with the French midfield sensation Paul Pogba going toe-to-toe with the brilliant Portuguese Bruno Fernandes in a battle of United’s most high profile midfielders. With both players having stellar individual seasons with the club, the time has come to bring said form on to the international stage.Embed from Getty Images
The unpredicability of the European Championships
The Euros, and international tournaments in general, are always a time of supprise. Every tournament there are teams who excede all expectations such as Wales reaching the semi-finals in 2016 and some sides which fall short, with a great recent example being Spain getting knocked out by Russia in the 2018 World Cup.Embed from Getty Images
This Euros could be the most facinating yet as the circumstances leading up to it are certainly unique. The tournament is being played across the whole of Europe, with 6 countries hosting various games across the continent, and for many players it will be the first time fans have been let in to stadiums. This will create an unparalelled atomsphere of pride and courage, and could throw up surprises that we have never previously seen, and as all comentators like to put it, “scripts that cannot be written”.