The international break sees qualifiers for the Euro 2020 kick off this week with Europe’s biggest teams in action. Here are the things to look out for in the upcoming matches. You can bet on European qualifiers here.
Can the Netherlands make another statement?
Oranje are experiencing some sort of rejuvenation. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands’ decline had reached an all-time low. However, recent results suggest that they are slowly finding their way back on top. Last year, they beat Germany 3-0 and secured a 2-2 draw with the former world champions in the UEFA Nations League. On Sunday, these two footballing behemoths meet in a 2020 Euro qualifier. The Netherlands, under Ronald Koeman, look very good. They have lost only twice under his tutelage, against England at home and France away from home. Furthermore, with their talented squad against Germany’s dwindling fortunes, another massive win is possible.
Belgium to bounce back
The 2018 World Cup semi-finalists Belgium are looking to bounce back after receiving a heavy defeat in the hands of Switzerland. The Swiss thrashed them 5-2 in the Nations League in November, mounting a remarkable comeback to stun the Red Devils. They have an opportunity to right the wrongs their mistakes when they face Russia in their first Euro 2020 qualifier on Wednesday. Belgium have not tasted defeat in the last five matches against the Russians, winning three and drawing two. The hosts have also won 15 matches at home in their last 20, with their last defeat coming in 2016, a record they would want to keep alive.
Piatek’s hot streak to continue?
Poland striker Krzysztof Piatek’s rise to the top is remarkable. The 23-year-old AC Milan striker came from obscurity to stardom in just a few years. He’s scored 19 Serie A goals this season, the same number as Cristiano Ronaldo, and he’ll be looking to take his goalscoring exploits to the national team on Wednesday when they play against Austria. Although he still has a difficult task in dislodging all-time top scorer and skipper Robert Lewandowski, the young striker can still do the damage coming from the bench. In his debut for his country, he scored against Portugal in the UEFA Nations League, playing for the entire match alongside Lewandowski. Can he take his red-hot form to the national team?
Routine wins for Europe top dogs
Europe’s hotshots the Netherlands, Croatia, France, England, Portugal, Spain and Italy are in action in this week for the Euro 2020 qualifiers. These giants will be playing against Belarus, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Norway and Finland respectively. Apart from the Netherlands and Italy, all the other teams are in the top ten in FIFA rankings. Barring any miracles, these heavyweights should comfortably dispatch their opponents and begin their Euro 2020 qualifiers with maximum points.
England goalkeeping dilemma
England manager Gareth Southgate will be facing a dilemma when he picks up his starting 11 against the Czech Republic in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. First choice Jordan Pickford’s place will come under scrutiny and competition from Burnley shot-stopper Tom Heaton. One of England’s heroes at the World Cup, Pickford has endured a disappointing season at Everton. His recent performance against Newcastle in the Premier League has raised a lot of eyebrows and questions have been asked about whether he still should be the Three Lions’ first-choice keeper with the likes of Heaton and Jack Butland knocking on the door. The 25-year-old will have to pull up his socks in the next assignments with the national team or risk being pushed out.