Any debate about which nation will win the European Championship will naturally centre around the relative strengths and weaknesses of each squad and their key players.
However, an often-overlooked factor is the Euro 2020 draw itself, as the standard of opposition a team faces can have a powerful influence on their fortunes.
To try and work out which of the eight favourites to win the tournament in the Euro 2020 odds have the toughest – and easiest – routes to the final, we’ve simulated the tournament 100,000 times using a model powered by the latest FIFA world rankings.
This has allowed us to calculate which opponents each team is most likely to meet in each round should they reach it.
England expects…too much?
England are currently the second favourites to lift the trophy but the Euro 2020 draw does not favour them; particularly in the Round of 16. If Gareth Southgate’s side win Group D as expected, then they would face the runners-up from Group F: the tournament’s ‘group of death’.
This will probably be one of three formidable teams: pre-tournament favourites France, reigning champions Portugal or old rivals – and tournament specialists – Germany. None of these would be an easy draw for England, so an early stumble that sees them finish second in their group could be a blessing in disguise.
Getting out of the ‘group of death’
With the aforementioned three superpowers pooled together in Group F, we could see plenty of early drama. However, all three could qualify for the knockout stages, as the four third-placed teams with the best records will join the group winners and runners-up in the Round of 16.
Spain are the most likely knockout opponents for any of the three reaching the quarter-final stage, as this is where the paths of the top two teams in Group E and Group F converge. France are the likeliest to encounter them in the last eight, in what would be a repeat of their meeting at Euro 2012.
Last chance for Belgium’s ‘golden generation’?
Belgium go into this tournament as the number one team in the world and one of the most experienced: the average member of their squad has over 50 caps and only Sweden have a higher average age. This could therefore be their last chance to win a trophy together, and the Euro 2020 draw should allow them to build some early momentum.
There’s a good chance that the Belgians can avoid the stronger teams until the semi-finals, as the path for both the winners and runners-up in Group B are entwined with those of Group A and Group C. This means that Italy and the Netherlands are the toughest opponents they would have to face in the first two knockout rounds, with the likes of France and England kept apart from them until the closing stages of the competition.
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