After almost five years since Portugal won their maiden international trophy, the stage is set for a much-anticipated Euro 2020.
The competition exploded into life on Friday night as Italy swept Turkey aside with a 3-0 win in Rome thanks to goals from Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and a Merih Demiral own goal.
Italy’s impressive display and record coming into the competition as got many people labelling them as ‘dark horses’ but it’ll come as no surprise to see the usual suspects as front-runners to lift the trophy.Embed from Getty Images
That’s not to say that we won’t have a repeat of Euro 2004, when Greece stole the show by bearing Portugal on home soil in the final, as fitness and squad depth is guaranteed to play a massive part.
Here’s a closer look at some of the top nations listed on Sports Betting Dime to take the crown on July 11.
The World Cup holders and beaten finalists back in 2016 top the list having elevated themselves back to the glory years of the late 90s and early 00s under Didier Deschamps.
It’s not all been plain sailing for Deschamps, who himself won a World Cup and European Championship with the national as a player, since he inherited a fractured squad in 2012.
But what he’s done since then has been magnificent, even if aided by the advantage of having a myriad of world-class players to choose from.
The likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann have thrived in attack whilst N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba have produced their finest form for their county in the midfield.
Their defence is likely to be their weakest area this summer but if veteran skipper Hugo Lloris can marshal them into shape from between the sticks, they will have a very good chance going one step further than they did in 2016.
Much has been made of Gareth Southgate’s young and talented squad but the question still remains: ‘Can they do it in a major tournament?’
The Three Lions come into the competition off the back of eight straight wins and in possession of some of the finest footballers in the world right now.
Harry Kane top scored in qualifying and will be looking to assert himself as top dog in Europe having collected the Golden Boot prize at the World Cup three years ago.
Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Mason Mount, Reece James and Ben Chilwell all started the Champions League final at the end of May, with the Chelsea boys bringing the added confidence of winning that game.
And Southgate has instilled a family culture within the camp that the players themselves claim to love and cherish – but will they turn it into a winning culture on the pitch?Embed from Getty Images
The number one ranked team in the world right now but only third-favourites to bring it home this summer.
Spearheaded by the red-hot Romelu Lukaku, their record goalscorer is shoe-in for the Golden Boots if Belgium so far in the competition.
However, there are question marks over the fitness of two of their key figures in Kevin De Bruyne, who suffered an eye injury in the Champions League final and the unfit and injury-prone Eden Hazard.
If those three line up, they will be a handful for any defence in the tournament but if they fail to make it then there might be some doubts over whether Roberto Martinez has the squad depth to get his golden generation over the line in a major tournament.Embed from Getty Images
The Portuguese love the Euros but were somewhat surprise winners five years ago in France.
The stars seemingly aligned for Cristiano Ronaldo to fulfil his prophecy and deliver a long-awaited major trophy, despite the mercurial striker getting injured early in the final.
It was the unlikely strike of Eder that ultimately won it for them but this time around they are stacked with goals and assists all over the pitch.
Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix and Andre Silva are among some of the most talented players on the continent but their greatness pales in comparison to that of their captain’s.
Ronaldo needs just five more international goals to surpass Iran’s Ali Daei as the all-time record scorer for a single nation and you wouldn’t put it past him to do it on the biggest stage of all.