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Tokyo Olympics 2020
Event: Men’s Soccer
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There will be fireworks when Portugal and France face each other at Puskas Arena in the Group F derby. Portugal kicked off their EURO 2020 campaign with a 3-0 win over Hungary, but they failed to impress in a 4-2 loss to Germany in their second group game. Fernando Santos’ men are determined to get back on course, but the game against France will be anything but a walk in the park for the nominal hosts. Joao Felix has overcome his injury, but the Atletico Madrid attacker is likely to start from the bench.
Les Tricolores, on the other hand, are one point away from booking their place in the EURO last 16, and they are likely to adopt a cautious approach in the decider. Since both teams should be happy with one point from the match, we are tempted to put our money on draw. Ousmane Dembele remains on the sidelines with injury for Didier Deschamps’ charges.
Despite being part of United Kingdom Scotland participate in football competitions as an independent country. The Scots qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals, but the SFA eventually withdrew their entry as they were not British champions. Four years later Scotland national football team participated at the showpiece tournament in Switzerland, but they were eliminated in the group stages.
Scotland booked their place at the FIFA World Cup on eight occasions, but they have not played a match at the finals of the major tournament since 1998. On the other hand, the Scotts participated at both Euro 1992 and Euro 1996, but they failed to qualify for the knockout stages at the tournaments in Sweden and England respectively. A number of Premier League stars played for the Scotland national football team in the past and Jim Baxter, Hughie Gallacher, John Greig, Jimmy Johnstone, Billy McNeill, Bobby Murdoch, Archie Gemmill and Lawrie Reilly are the footballers who made more than 50 appearances for Scotland, with Alan Hutton and Scott Brown joining the list recently.
The Scotts recorded their biggest win back in February 23, 1901, with the team rolling over Ireland 11-0. The team suffered their biggest defeat against Uruguay (0-7) in June, 1954. Gordon Strachan’s team welcome their opponents at Hampden Park.
Luka Modric is regarded as one of the best central midfielders in world football. The Croatian ace is a product of Dinamo Zagreb’s youth school and it has to be noted that he played 94 league games for the Modri between 2003 and 2008. In 2008 he signed a six-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £16.5 million.
Luka made his Tottenham debut on 16 August, 2008 in a 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough at Riverside Stadium. The Croatian star scored only 13 goals in 127 league appearances for the Spurs, but he is well known for his brilliant passing. In 2012 he signed for Real Madrid for a fee of £30 million and he made his debut against Barcelona in the 2012 Spanish Super Cup, return leg.
Modric quickly established himself as a first-team regular and, no doubt, he helped the capital club win two Champions League trophies (2013/2014, 2015/2016). You should bear in mind that he was named Croatian Footballer of the Year in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2014.
All eyes will be on Hampden Park when Croatia and Scotland go head to head in the Group D decider. A place in the EURO last 16 is at stake, meaning that there will be fireworks in Tuesday’s showdown. Croatia do not seem to be at their sharpest at the showpiece tournament, with the team losing to England, while sharing the spoils with Czech Republic. Zlatko Dalic’s troops face a must-win situation in their last group game, and they are likely to go all guns blazing at the Scotts.
Borna Barisic should be the only absentee in the home team. Scotland, on the other hand, did well to hold star-studded England to a goalless draw, with the team keeping their playoffs hopes alive. Since Steve Clark’s men will go for a win in Tuesday’s clash as well, we are tempted to put our money on both teams to score.
Tomas Vaclik is the Czech Republic international goalkeeper who has been with FC Basel since 2014. Having begun his professional career in Vitkovice, the 27-year-old shot stopper also played for Viktoria Zizkov and Sparta Prague before he moved to Switzerland.
At the beginning of his career Tomas Vaclik draw plenty of attention from all across Europe and has even signed a deal with Dutch side De Graafschap in 2011, which was later rescinded after Vaclik failed his medical and was forced to return to Prague.
During two seasons with the Swiss giants FC Basel, Tomas Vaclik has managed to establish himself as a first-choice goalkeeper averaging 31 appearances per season. He played a massive role in his team’s back-to-back title challenges and has gone to extend his contract with Basel as a reward, a contract that will keep him with the Swiss club until 2021.
One of two oldest national football teams besides Scotland, England have been playing international matches since 1872, but the World Cup title won on home soil in 1966 remain their only major trophy up to date. The Three Lions narrowly missed out on the 1990 World Cup final, losing to Germany on penalties, while they were stopped in quarter-finals on no fewer than five occasions.
England twice reached the European Championship semi-finals, in 1968 and 1996, but they have been pretty disappointing at the start of the 21st century, despite boasting arguably the strongest league competition in the world. Sir Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Moore were among players who secured the first major international title, whereas Gary Lineker, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney all played an important role during the modern age.
Peter Shilton is the record holder with 125 caps for the national team, while Wayne Rooney surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton as the leading goalscorer in the England national team.
Wembley Stadium will host Group D derby between Czech Republic and England. The Three Lions aim to climb to top position in the standings, and we are positive that they will adopt an attack-minded approach in Tuesday’s clash. England failed to impress in a goalless draw with Scotland, and, as a result, Gareth Southgate should opt to make changes to the starting XI. Both Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford are pushing for a start, with Harry Maguire likely to play some part after overcoming his injury.
The Czechs, on the other hand, head into the match following a 1-1 draw with Croatia. The Group D leaders would be happy with one point from the decider, but preventing England from scoring at Wembley Stadium is easier said than done. A man to watch in Jaroslav Silhavy’s team will be Patrik Schick, who has already netted three goals at the 2020 European Championship finals.
Netherlands are well known for the colour of their shirts. The orange colour is the symbol of the Dutch national team and that is the reason why they got a nickname the Oranje. Netherlands won the 1988 European Championship in West Germany, with the team beating the Soviet Union in the title game.
A number of top-class players were part of the Netherlands national team that won the Euro 1988 trophy, with the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Erwin Koeman all starting the match against the Soviet Union. However, many people consider Johan Cruyff the best player in the history of Dutch football. Cruyff won three European Cups with Ajax as a player and he clinched the European Cup with Barcelona as a coach.
Johan Cruyff is well known as “the father of modern football”. Netherlands participated in the World Cup final on three occasions (1974, 1978, 2010), but they have yet to win the prestigious trophy. The Oranje welcome their rivals at Amsterdam ArenA, Philips Stadion and Stadion Feijenoord.
Aleksandar Trajkovski is a Macedonian international who played for Cementarnica 55 during his youth career. He made 11 league appearances for the club at senior level as well and in 2010 he moved to Croatian team Inter Zapresic.
The attacking midfielder failed to prove his worth in the 2010/2011 season and, as a result, he was sold to Zulte Waregem in the summer of 2011. He played an important role in the Belgian team from 2011 to 2015 as he scored 11 goals in 83 league appearances for the club. It has to be noted, though, that Trajkovski spend the 2013/2014 season on loan at Mechelen. In 2015 he was named Macedonian Footballer of the Year and the same year he signed a contract with Italian side Palermo.
Speaking of his international career, Aleksandar Trajkovski has 15 caps for Macedonia U21 and he made his debut for the senior team on 10 August, 2011 in a friendly against Azerbaijan.
Netherlands will be aiming to keep their 100% record in Group C intact when they take on North Macedonia at Johan Cruijff Arena. The Oranje kicked off their EURO 2020 campaign in style, with the team beating both Ukraine and Austria, and it is no wonder the bookies see them as favourites to win Monday’s clash. Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has overcome his injury, meaning that Frank de Boer should have a full squad to choose from.
However, the Netherlands head coach is likely to mix the squad as the Oranje have already booked their place in the last 16. North Macedonia, on the other hand, are still eyeing their first win at major tournaments. The Macedonians have been struggling at the back at the European Championship finals, and they face yet another uphill task in their last group game. A man to watch in Igor Angelovski’s team will be Premier League ace Ezgjan Alioski, who found the net in the 2-1 loss to Ukraine.
Austria is one of Europe’s oldest national football teams and they enjoyed plenty of success during the 1930’s, earning the nickname Wunderteam in the process. Das Team achieved a fourth-place finish at the second World Cup in 1934, before finishing in third place at the 1954 finals. However, Austria have since participated at another five World Cup finals, never getting past the first knockout stage.
Das Team were even more disappointing in the European Championship qualifying campaigns, failing to qualify for 12 straight tournaments before appearing at the 2008 finals as co-hosts. However, Austria made it to the Euro 2016 in style, winning nine of ten qualifiers to suggest the team may be on the path to return to old glory days.
Former Bayern Munich midfielder Andreas Herzog is the team’s most capped footballer with 103 appearances, whereas Toni Polster is the most prolific striker with 44 goals in 95 outings. Matthias Sinderlar, Ernst Ocwirk, Herbert Prohaska and Hans Krankl are some of the most notable players to have represented Austria over the years.
Arguably the most exciting Ukrainian player at the moment, Andriy Yarmolenko is the 26-year-old forward, who can play wide as a winger and fill in numerous positions in attack. Over the past few years there has been a gathering feeling that the player has outgrown the Ukrainian League and that with the player surpassing the 200-game mark for Dynamo Kyiv Yarmolenko should be heading west to Europe’s brighter stage.
Wanted and scouted by Spanish giants Barcelona, Yarmolenko attracted interest from many other clubs, predominantly from the Premier League, and was even close to joining Everton in summer 2016, but the Goodison outfit’s offer came too late to the Ukrainian club.
Talented forward is a free-scoring machine who has already scored more than 115 goals for the club he spent his entire career with. The two-footed winger is equally adept through the middle and is a versatile force that would be a good addition to any self-respecting European side.
A place in the EURO last 16 will be at stake when Ukraine and Austria face each other in Group C on Monday. Andriy Shevchenko’s troops quickly bounced back from a 3-2 loss to Netherlands, with the team beating North Macedonia in their second group game. Ukraine are one point away from securing a top-two finish, and we are positive that they will adopt a cautious approach in the decider.
Ferencavors attacker Oleksandr Zubkov is sidelined through injury, but he should be the only absentee in the home team. Austria defenders should have West Ham attacker Andriy Yarmolenko at bay as he has been scoring goals for fun at EURO 2020 finals. Marko Arnautovic, on the other hand, returns from suspension for the Austrians, and seeing that Franco Foda’s troops should be happy with one point from their last group game as well, share of spoils is on the cards.
Gazprom Arena will host Group B game between Finland and Belgium. The Red Devils aim to keep their 100% record intact, but keep in mind that Roberto Martinez should opt to rest several first-team regulars in the last group game. Fit-again Man City ace Kevin De Bruyne, though, who impressed in a come-from-behind win over Denmark, should make his first start at EURO 2020 against Finland. Defender Timothy Castagne remains on the sidelines through injury.
The Finns, on the other hand, aim to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Russia. Markku Kanerva’s troops should be happy with one point from the decider, but given Belgium’s attacking potential, we do not believe that the underdogs are capable of grabbing something from the match. A man to watch in the home team will be Norwich City attacker Teemu Pukki, who is eager to open his goal-scoring account.
The Denmark national team participated at the World Cup finals on four occasions and they recorded their best result at the 1998 tournament. The Danes made it to the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup in France, but Brazil proved to be a big catch for the Nordic side. De Rod-Hvide did remarkably well to win the 1992 European Championship, but they were more than fortunate to qualify for the Euro 1992 finals.
Denmark finished their qualifying campaign in second place in the group, but thanks to Yugoslavia’s exclusion from the competition, the team booked their place at the Euro 1992 finals. Denmark impressed at the tournament in Sweden, with the team outplaying Germany in the title game (2-0).
Brothers Michael and Bryan Laudrup and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel are regarded as Denmark’s most notable players. It has to be noted that Morten Olsen was in charge of the Danish national team from 2000 to 2015. The Danes play their home games at Telia Parken and the capacity of the venue is 38,065 (all-seater).
Probably the most famous Russian footballer never to have played for a domestic club, Denis Cheryshev was born in Nizhny Novgorod, but began his career at Sporting Gijon as his father played for the Spanish side at the time.
The talented winger eventually caught the eye of Real Madrid and went on to spend eight years in the youth academy at Santiago Bernabeu before he was given a chance to impress on senior level. Due to a fierce competition for places in Madrid, Cheryshev was forced to gain much needed first team experience via loan spells at Sevilla, Villarreal and Valencia, and he showed a great deal of potential during those stints, proving los Blancos were wrong to let him leave.
Chersyhev has been in and out of the Russia national team since making his debut in 2012, but there is a good chance he will become an important member of Sbornaya Komanda as soon as he secures regular playing time at club level. The Russian footballer is capable of operating on either wing or through the middle, and he has proved to be quite prolific in terms of both goals and assists.
There will be fireworks at Parken Stadium when Russia and Denmark face each other in the Group B decider. Following a 2-1 loss to Belgium, Denmark face a must-win situation in their last group game, and we are positive that they will go all guns blazing at the Russians. Christian Eriksen remains in the recovery room, but the Inter ace should be the only absentee in Kasper Hjumland’s team. It has to be noted that Denmark had no fewer than 22 goal attempts in the defeat to Belgium.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s troops, on the other hand, aim to build on a hard-fought 1-0 win over Finland. However, home win should not be considered as key defender Mario Fernandes misses the game with injury. Veteran Yuri Zhirkov is likely to miss the game through injury as well. When the two teams met in a friendly nine years ago Russia defeated Denmark 2-0, meaning that the Scandinavians are hungry for revenge.
Despite being part of the United Kingdom, Wales national football team has been competing in FIFA tournaments since 1950, although they have so far only reached two tournament finals. The Dragons surprised everyone by making it to the quarter-finals at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, but little did they know that it would remain their only World Cup appearance up to date.
Wales had plenty of problems in the European Championship qualifiers as well, but they finally managed to end the barren run by securing their place at the Euro 2016 in France. Led by the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams, the Dragons performed admirably throughout the campaign and even reached the 8th position in the FIFA Rankings in October 2015.
Neville Southall remains the team’s most capped player, but the generation that included Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed, Craig Bellamy and John Hartson will also be remembered for some impressive performances against top European national teams.
Born in Frattamaggiore, Naples on June 4, 1991, Lorenzo Insigne is an Italian footballer who plays for his hometown club Napoli in the Serie A. Insigne is a product of Olimpia Sant’Arpino football school, but he joined the Partenopei at the age of 15.
The diminutive attacker scored his first ever goal in the Italian top flight on September 16, 2012 in a 3-1 win over Parma. Insigne, who played for the likes of Cavese, Foggia and Pescara on loan before returning to Naples, made his debut with the Italian national team on September 11, 2012 in the World Cup qualifier against Malta.
The Napoli forward scored his first ever goal for the Azzurri in a friendly against Argentina on August 14, 2013. His main position is left winger, but he is used as a second striker as well. Lorenzo Insigne has a contract with Napoli until June 30, 2022.
Italy will be looking to keep their 100% record in Group A intact when they take on Wales at Stadio Olimpico. The Azzurri have been impressive at EURO 2020 so far, with the team rolling over both Turkey and Switzerland, and it is no wonder the bookies see them as favourites to win their last group game. Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, who scored a brace in the 3-0 win over Switzerland, will be one of the men to watch in the home team.
Giorgio Chiellini and Alessandro Florenzi, on the other hand, are likely to miss the game with injuries. The Dragons did well to beat Turkey in their second group game, with the team booking their place in the last 16. However, Gareth Bale and Co. will have a much bigger fish to fry in Sunday’s clash against Italy, who look unstoppable at the moment. There are no fresh injury worries in the away team.
Present on the international stage since 1923, Turkey only started showing some promise during the 70’s, but they had to wait until the turn of the century to place themselves on the map. While they lost all three fixtures at their first ever European Championship finals in 1996, they fared much better four years later, reaching the last eight in Netherlands and Belgium.
Milli Takim were able to build on that result as they went on to reach the podium at the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, while also finishing third at the 2003 Confederations Cup and making it to the semi-finals at the Euro 2008.
Rustu Receber, Hakan Sukur and Emre Belezoglu were important parts of the country’s most successful generation, but the one including Arda Turan, Selcuk Inan, Burak Yilmaz and Hakan Calhanoglu is threatening to surpass their achievements. As the Turkish Super Lig continues the get stronger, the national team follows, and we should expect some big result from Milli Takim in the near future.
Another impressive player who emigrated to Switzerland, Xherdan Shaqiri is a midfielder with excellent technical qualities, very strong in taking players on and creating chances for his teammates, while also being a danger from set pieces. The Serbian-born footballer formed an excellent midfielder pairing with Granit Xhaka at FC Basel, before making a high-profile move to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2012.
Shaqiri went on to prove a great deal of potential at Allianz Arena, scoring 11 goals in 52 Bundesliga matches, but he decided to leave in search of first team football, first joining Inter Milan and then moving to Stoke City. It was at Britannia Stadium that the attacking midfielder rediscovered his form and if he continues playing at such a high level, it won’t be long before he returns to the biggest stage.