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The Polish side looks the most settled in this group, even after the loss of Milik and Piatek, they do comprise of a lot of promising players up front. They have been blessed by two world class goalkeepers, Fabianski and Szczesny and it’s going to be a shame to see one of them at the bench this summer. In Defence, they have the likes of Bednarek and Kamil Glik who are experienced enough and will provide some stability. A few notable players in the midfield are Zielinski and Leeds United’s Klich.
However, there is one player who will be the center of attention in this squad, Robert Lewandowski. Having played his best season ever, scoring record breaking 41 goals in the Bundesliga and overall being at the peak of his powers in the last two seasons, the striker will look to continue his red hot form in the Euros. With the manager preferring a 2-man strike force, a young Karol Swiderski can also make a name for himself playing along and learning from the best in the business.
In the Nations League the major problem that they suffered is that they have failed to win their matches against stronger oppositions namely, Italy and Netherlands. The sacking of their previous manager wasn’t necessarily due to the defeats, but the manner of the performances which failed to inspire fans. Although only having a small sample size, this Polish side looks much more exciting under their new manager scoring goals in 3 World Cup Qualifying games.
This team has nowhere near the best squad in this competition, but are looking like the most settled in this group. If they do not repeat the mistakes they made in the last World Cup, they do have a very good chance of topping this group. A lot will be depending on their star striker Robert Lewandowski, who needs to be amongst the goals and he will be having an extra motivation as he set sights to win his first Ballon d’or. I feel Poland will cash in on this opportunity and would upset a few pundits by finishing first.
A lot of chaos and surprises have surrounded the 26 man squad selected by Luis Enrique. The biggest news being the exclusion of the 180 times capped defender Sergio Ramos. His replacement being equally notable as Ayemric Laporte is set to represent Spain for the very first time after switching international allegiance from France to Spain. A few more big names to miss out are Kepa Arrizabalaga, Hector Bellerin, Jesus Navas, Dani Ceballos and Rodrigo and Ansu Fati is left out too due to injury. This is the first time Spain won’t be featuring any Real Madrid player in their squad for a major competition.
Spain’s strength lies in their midfield as Thiago and Rodri could work wonders for them with their ball playing and passing abilities. But with latest reports stating that Busquets has been found Covid positive, things are going from bad to worse in the Spanish camp.
They topped their Qualifying group and looked steady throughout after conceding only 5 goals in 10 games. But the team hasn’t had many dominant and convincing performances since 2020. Other than their 6-0 win over Germany, the display has been very lacklusture. The only positive is that they are getting the results irrespective of their performances but only time will tell if it will be enough coming into this tournament.
My prediction for Spain’s campaign would’ve been different last month but so much has changed in this time period and sadly the changes have made the circumstances far from ideal. A few controversial decisions from Luis Enrique had already caused a lot of doubts and to top it all off, just a week before the tournament starts they also have to deal with a covid crisis within their camp. Amid all this chaos, it is really tough to see them go about their business smoothly and a disappointing campaign might be on cards. This team, with their experience should however, salvage at least a second place in their group.
The Slovaks will be participating for only the second time in the European Championship and with the squad they have selected, only two names standout, Merek Hamsik and Martin Dubravka. Also a notable inclusion is Martin Skriniar who has had a great season and has recently been crowned Serie A champion with Inter.
However, the attacking options are a concern as they have not been able to show their quality and threaten the opposition half as much as they would have liked to.
Making it to two consecutive European Championships is something they can be proud of, but the past two years have been nowhere inspiring for them. They did reach the tournament via play off- victories over Ireland and their northern neighbors, but a bland style of football has caused some depressing results for them across 2020; defeats to Czech Republic and Israel led to their relegation from League B in Nations League. And in 2021 they have have managed to win only 1 game.
Could they replicate their heroics of Euro 2016 and get out of their group? Very unlikely. Although the new coach, Tarkovic, did a really good job in their playoff win, it is a near impossible job to get this team out of this group. A 4th place finish is looking very inevitable.
Swedish Fans must’ve been buzzing after hearing that Zlatan would be reversing his international retirement decision but the return everyone dreamed about, still remains a dream as the AC Milan striker would not recover from a Knee injury in time. Alexander Isak can be a surprise performer, the pacy 21-year-old forward has had success in La liga this year with 17 goals and Sweden would be hoping he could replicate his performances at the biggest stage.
Two high profile players to keep an eye on are Victor Lindelof and Emil Frosberg, a lot would be depending on their performance.
Finishing second in their Euro Qualifying group, just behind Spain was something that was expected from them and that is exactly what they delivered. Their form has been a bit topsy-turvy as they are coming to the tournament on the back of 5 consecutive wins but sitting at the bottom of their Nations League group shows that their 2020 didn’t exactly go as planned and only goes on to prove that a few things are still not sorted at the Sweden Camp.
Not making it out of their group in Euros 2016 was a major disappointment for them, but I feel this squad has the potential to cause some upsets and if things go well for them, finishing second in the group stage is a possibility. But a more realistic prediction for the Swedes will be a third placed finish and a high chance of them going through to knockouts as one of the best 4 third placed teams.