Redemption for Italy, Southgate made to wait
Italy ended their 53-year wait for their second European Championship title after a nail-biting final that swung one way to the other throughout the 120 minutes and the penalty shootout. Luke Shaw’s second minute goal set Wembley alive and it looked as though football was making the final steps of a 55-year journey home.
But the second goal that might have killed off the Italians never came and as the game went on, the Italians grew in stature, took control and held their nerve to win the shootout.
Before the tournament got under way, a final between England and Italy was 17/1 and a straight forecast of Italy to win and England to finish runners-up was priced at 45/1. Roberto Mancini’s squad were 7/1 to win the tournament and while it wasn’t straightforward, the Italians got the job done.
In a final of unlikely goalscorers, Shaw was 50/1 to open the scoring and 25/1 to be an anytime scorer, and Leonardo Bonucci’s second half equaliser ensured those who backed the two defenders to score enjoyed a profitable evening. The double was priced at 493/1.
Up against defensive titans Chiellini and Bonucci, Harry Kane failed to register a shot on target in the final for just the second time in 61 internationals.
Kane not only missed out on lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy, but the England skipper also missed out on the Golden Boot award. Tottenham’s hitman ended the tournament on four goals, one behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo who pipped Patrik Schick of the Czech Republic for the goalscoring accolade courtesy of having an assist. Ronaldo started the tournament at 9/1 to be the tournament’s leading scorer.
Finding a price for Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to win UEFA’s player of the tournament at the start of the competition was difficult as he was one of the favourites to take the young player award.
The 22-year-old becomes the first goalkeeper to win the player of the tournament at the European Championships while Spain’s Pedri picked up the young player of the tournament award. Spain finished Euro 2020 as the joint highest scoring team with Italy who scored their 13th goal in the second half of Sunday’s final which proved lucky for them.
What Euro 2020 tells us about Qatar World Cup
As we say goodbye to Euro 2020 and the Copa America, we can console ourselves with the fact the next major tournament is closer than it would normally be. In 18 months time, the 2022 World Cup will begin in Qatar. So what can the last month of football tell us about who might be contenders next December?
France tipped to lead European challenge
France were pre-tournament favourites to win Euro 2020, but they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Switzerland after a penalty shootout. The squad won’t need a major overhaul and with Kylian Mbappe leading their attack, they should not be underestimated in Qatar where they can be backed at 7.613/2 on the exchange to win their third world title. Didier Deschamps will learn from his mistakes at Euro 2020 and make the French stronger.
It wasn’t to be for Gareth Southgate’s band of brothers in Sunday’s final but everyone involved will reflect on what might have been and realise there are plenty of positives to take from the last month of football. Lessons have to be learned from this experience and make sure they are not repeated at Qatar next year.
Euro 2020 runners-up England can be backed at 9.08/1 to go one better at the World Cup. Gareth Southgate has built a squad young enough to stay together for a number of major tournaments and optimism is high for next year.
This summer was supposed to be Belgium’s time to end their major tournament drought after spending the last three years ranked number one in the world. But it was another disappointing competition for the Red Devils who were knocked out of the Euros by Italy in the quarter-finals. Roberto Martinez will continue as manager and his side are a 11.010/1 option on the exchange to win the World Cup.
Luis Enrique’s Spain came close to reaching the final of Euro 2020, but they lost their nerve in the penalty shootout with Italy. A lack of cutting edge in front of goal counted against the Spaniards and they have 18 months to final a striker who can be relied upon to score goals.
Spain did finish Euro 2020 as the tournament’s highest scorers, but three of those goals were registered as own goals. Alvaro Morata did score three times, but the chances he missed will haunt him in the coming months. Spain are 10.09/1 on the exchange to win the World Cup.
What about Germany’s hopes of glory next December? We have yet to see what plans new manager Hansi Flick has for the four-time world champions. A rebuilding process will need to be done by the former Bayern Munich manager to freshen up the German team that barely made it through the group stage at the Euros. Germany who can be backed at 13.5 can never be ruled out of winning a major tournament, and an early exit this summer will spur them on next year.
During Euro 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo drew level with the all-time leading scorer in international football, Ali Daei on 109 goals.
Other European contenders include Portugal and the Netherlands. Portugal will probably still have Cristiano Ronaldo scoring goals for them, but their reliance on CR7 might be holding this team back and they are 18.5 to win their first ever World Cup. If they can build a supporting cast around Ronaldo, they might give the joint leading scorer in international football a grand send off.
The Netherlands once against failed to build on a perfect group stage to leave the Euros in the first elimination game. There are good young players coming through and they can be backed at 25.024/1 to be champions in Qatar.
Brazil joint favourites despite Copa America loss
When the decision was made to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup, the first of many concerns was the heat in which players will be forced to play in. Temperatures could be around 30 degrees at that time of year, and organisers hope their plans to cool spectators and players down by converting solar energy into electricity will help make it a comfortable experience for everyone involved.
South American teams may be best prepared for adapting to the hot conditions, although with many of their star players playing in Europe, a degree of acclimatising will still need to be done. Argentina won their 15th Copa America at the weekend by beating Brazil 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium. It was Lionel Messi’s first success at a major tournament with his country and he will be doing all he can to add a World Cup winner’s medal to his glorious career. Argentina can be backed at 12.011/1 on the exchange.
Lionel Messi scored four goals to help Argentina win their 15th Copa America title.
Despite losing to Argentina in the final of the Copa America, Brazil have been joint installed as favourites to win their sixth world title and they are a 7.613/2 option to do so. The pressure will build on Neymar who will now face the same kind of pressure Messi did by not leading his nation to a tournament win. It took his rival until he was 34 to get the monkey off his back. Neymar is now 29 and he won’t have too many more tournaments to lead his country to glory.
Hosting a World Cup is a great privilege and is guaranteed to boost the economy substantially for the month the tournament lasts. It also gives the home nation an advantage as the football fans get behind their team more so than if the tournament was held elsewhere.
Qatar will hope the support they receive will drive them on to glory. Few would expect them to win the tournament, but as South Korea found out in 2002, it can help get an underdog to the semi-finals. Qatar can be backed at 180.0179/1 to be the sixth winner of the World Cup on home soil and the first since France in 1998.