The Dark Horses of Euro 2020 Previewed

When Euro 2020 finally kicks off in the summer, a year behind schedule, the usual suspects are all expected to be in the latter stages.

Holders Portugal, with their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo hunting another major trophy, are expected to challenge, as are Gareth Southgate’s England, fresh from their World Cup semi-final in 2018.

Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium will all be challenging prospects too, but what of the smaller nations?

The Euros are now almost as big as the World Cup in terms of competing teams, and amongst those hunting their first major piece of silverware are three countries that might just upset the favourites.

These are countries that did not have clubs connected to the ill-fated European Super League and are the sort of teams that might not be expected to do well.

This is especially useful for fans looking to bet on the tournament.

After a long wait, Euro 2021 will allow fans to pick, and place money on, who they think will be an underdog. 

With betting being such a big part of the tournament fans should pay attention to these three teams.


Credit: АнтонЗайцев, ESP-RUS (22), CC BY-SA 3.0

Russia performed well at their own World Cup, beating Spain on penalties before going out to eventual finalists Croatia by the same method.

It was tough on the host nation, who then saw Croatia beat England to advance to the final.

That was a vast improvement on 2016, where they failed to win a single game and went home in shame.

Why might they do well?

They are an organised and disciplined team, with players coming from major European nations as well as their own country.

AS Monaco's Aleksandr Golovin and Valencia's Denis Cheryshev are likely to be big hits.

The latter famously played for Real Madrid, with Bleacher Report explaining how he once helped get them disqualified from the Copa Del Rey.

He has real pedigree and could be key to the Russian’s hopes.

Dark Horses of Euro 2020


Credit:, Ukraine vs Luxembourg 14062015 UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifying round – Group C (6), CC BY-SA 3.0

Ukraine have been drawn in a group with the Netherlands, North Macedonia and Austria, and that gives them a great chance of progressing.

Traditionally, European Championships have seen smaller nations playing tight, sometimes negative football to triumph. Greece in 2004 and Portugal in 2016 are great examples.

Ukraine concede very few goals and benefit from many of their players coming from just two teams, Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk.

That understanding makes Ukraine a very tough side to beat, despite the fact they are not amongst the tournament favourites.

In fact, almost everyone overlooks them, despite a strong qualifying process that saw goals spread throughout the team.

They won’t suffer if one player gets injured, because there are no standout stars here, just a functional unit primed for tournament football.


Turkey 1
Credit: Steindy, AUT vs. TUR 2016-03-29 (001), CC BY-SA 3.0

Turkey will be hoping to emerge from a group containing Italy, Wales and Switzerland, and whilst it will be a big ask, that really is anyone’s group.

Italy are not the force they once were, Wales have a soft underbelly and Switzerland often flatter to deceive.

The group is not the only reason to keep an eye on Turkey though, they have some great players spread across Europe.

HakanCalhanoglu plays for AC Milan, whilst MerihDemiral is with Juventus.

If they were to combine to embarrass Italy, it could lead to another case like that of Ahn Jung Hwan, kicked out of his club, Perugia, after scoring a goal to knock out Italy in the 2002 World Cup.

Turkey do not just have a couple of decent players though, their team is a blend of youth and experience, and they are in good form too.

They have lost just once in 10 matches, including big wins against Russia (3-2), Norway (3-0) and most significant of all, the Netherlands (4-2).

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This article was most recently revised and updated 2 years ago

Greg is a Sports content writer. He has many years of experience in Sports Writing. He was a writer for Opera News and is Editor-in-Chief at GoalBall.