Belgium will be playing their 6th Euro’s this summer as they go into the competition as one of the favourites. They are currently the no 1 ranked team in the world and with the players at their disposal they should do better than their quarter-final finish in 2016.
Goalkeepers – Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Matz Sels (Strasbourg)
Defenders – Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe) Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Timothy Castagne (Leicester)
Midfielders – Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Dennis Praet (Leicester), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir)
Forwards – Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Manager – Roberto Martinez
Most Caps – Jan Vertonghen (126)
Captain – Eden Hazard
Star Player – Eden Hazard
What a squad Belgium have. A world class goalkeeper in Courtois, a solid defence with the likes of Vertonghen and Alderweireld and some good full backs like Castagne and Meunier. De Bruyne leads the pack when it comes to the midfield with the likes of Thorgan Hazard, Tielemans, Witsel etc having all had solid seasons at club level. Up front you can’t look past Lukaku who has been on fire for Inter. Mertens has also done well this season while Benteke has had a renaissance of sorts towards the end of the season. Eden Hazard hasn’t had the best two years at Real Madrid and on form he is no where near his best. Still if there is a player who can turn up it is him and there is no one better in that team. Martinez has a talented squad at his disposal and for sure Belgium should at least reach the semi’s this time.
Denmark will be taking part in their 9th Euro’s this summer. Their debut came in 1964 and they have since won the competition once in 1992. Their last appearance in the competition came in 2012 where they couldn’t get past the group stage. Denmark are the 10th ranked team in the world which is no small feat.
Goalkeepers – Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Jonas Lossl (Midtjylland), Frederik Ronnow (Schalke 04)
Defenders – Joachim Andersen (Lyon), Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton), Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Joakim Maehle (Atalanta), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jorgensen (Copenhagen), Jens Larsen (Udinese), Daniel Wass (Valencia), Nicolai Boilesen (Copenhagen)
Midfielders – Robert Skov (Hoffenheim), Thomas Delaney (Borussia Dortmund), Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan), Christian Norgaard (Brentford), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Anders Christiansen (Malmo)
Forwards – Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona), Andreas Olsen (Bologna), Kasper Dolberg (Nice), Mikkel Damsgaard (Sampdoria), Jonas Wind (Copenhagen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Andreas Cornelius (Parma)
Manager – Kasper Hjulmand
Most Caps – Christian Eriksen (107)
Captain – Simon Kjaer
Star Player – Christian Eriksen
Denmark should be one of the favourites to get out of the group alongside Belgium. They have a solid team with some good players all around. Schmeichel is a very good goalkeeper, and their defence has players like Andersen, Kjaer, of course Champions League winner Christensen. Delaney, Eriksen, and Hojbjerg form a midfield that can do everything while up front Poulsen is probably their best option. Dolberg is quite good on his day while Braithwaite has goals in him as well. Cornelius has been decent. It’s a good team. I don’t expect them to go farther than the Round of 16 but they could get out of the group stage.
Finland are taking part in their first Euro’s ever. They really are novices at this stage of football and so there is really no great expectation. Finland are ranked 55th in the Fifa rankings.
Goalkeepers – Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen), Jesse Joronen (Brescia), Anssi Jaakkola (Bristol Rovers)
Defenders – Joona Toivio (Hacken), Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United), Paulus Arajuuri (Pafos), Jere Uronen (Genk), Thomas Lam (PEC Zwolle), Sauli Vaisanen (Chievo), Nikolai Alho (MTK), Daniel O’Shaughnessy (HJK), Leo Vaisanen (Elfsborg), Robert Ivanov (Warta Poznan)
Midfielders – Tim Sparv (AEL), Rasmus Schuller (Djurgarden), Robin Lod (Minnesota United), Glen Kamara (Rangers), Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg), Joni Kauko (Esbjerg), Robert Taylor (Brann), Fredrik Jensen (FC Augsburg), Onni Valakari (Pafos)
Forwards – Teemu Pukki (Norwich City), Joel Pohjanpalo (Union Berlin), Lassi Lappalainen (Montreal), Marcus Forss (Brentford)
Manager – Markku Kanerva
Most Caps – Teemu Pukki (90)
Captain – Tim Sparv
Star Player – Teemu Pukki
I’m going to be honest here the only player out of this squad that I have heard of is Teemu Pukki. Pukki is great a solid striker who has been dominant in England for some seasons now. The rest are really an unknown quantity. I don’t expect Finland to get past the group stage. It is their first Euro’s though so they should enjoy the occasion and see where the wind takes them.
Russia are heading into their 12th Euro’s this summer. Their debut came in 1960 as the Soviet Union a Euro which they also happened to win. That was their best finish and for the last two Euro’s they haven’t managed to get past the group stage. They are currently ranked 39th in the world.
Goalkeepers – Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow), Yury Dyupin (Rubin Kazan), Matvei Safonov (Krasnodar)
Defenders – Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moskva), Igor Diveyev (CSKA Moskva), Vyacheslav Karavayev (Zenit), Andrei Semyonov (Akhmat Grozny), Fyodor Kudryashov (Antalyaspor), Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit)
Midfielders – Denis Cheryshev (Valencia), Magomed Ozdoyev (Zenit), Dmitri Barinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow), Aleksei Miranchuk (Atalanta), Aleksandr Golovin (AS Monaco), Rifat Zhemaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Aleksei Ionov (Krasnodar), Daniil Fomin (Dynamo Moscow), Daler Kuzyayev (Zenit), Andrei Mostovoy (Zenit), Denis Makarov (Rubin Kazan), Maksim Mukhin (CSKA Moskva)
Forwards – Aleksandr Sobolev (Spartak Moscow), Anton Zabolotny (CSKA Moskva), Artem Dzyuba (Zenit)
Manager – Stanislav Cherchesov
Most Caps – Yuri Zhirkov (103)
Captain – Artem Dzyuba
Star Player – Artem Dzyuba
I have Russia challenging Denmark to get into the knockout’s alongside Belgium. Russia have some decent players Fernandes, Zhirkov, Cheryshev, Miranchuk, Golovin, and Dzyuba are all players that I have seen play. I do feel the trio of Miranchuk, Golovin, and Dzyuba are their most dangerous players while Fernandes as a full back has been known to add a goal threat as well. It’s a decent squad and they did do brilliantly in the World Cup 3 years ago. I doubt that finish can be replicated but getting through the group stage is not a big task.