UEFA Euro 2020 Power Rankings: Are Italy favorites to win it all ahead of France, England and Belgium?

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CBS Sports

The group stage of Euro 2020 is done and dusted, the knockout rounds set for Saturday onwards. Despite wobbles from Germany and for a time Spain, no great giants of European football fell at the first stage and the pieces are now in place for a thrilling last 16. Here’s how the teams stand in our rankings:

1. Italy (3-0-0)

Previous rank: 1. It was only some poor finishing and obdurate Welsh defending that kept Italy from racking up another 3-0 win, all the more impressive given that Roberto Mancini was able to rotate his side en masse with six points already in the bag. He now has the sort of selection dilemmas a manager relishes: Who to drop to bring Marco Verratti back into the team, do Federico Bernadeschi or Federico Chiesa merit a starting role and which of Alessandro Bastoni or Francesco Acerbi should deputize if Giorgio Chiellini’s absence is extended?

2. France (1-2-0)

Previous rank: 2. Didier Deschamps’ world champions have not quite hit top gear in this tournament as a collective, but all of his regular starters have had that one game, or at least a spell in a match, where they have bent the contest to their will. Against Portugal that was Karim Benzema, who perhaps needed those first international goals in six years after a slow start to the tournament, while the Paul Pogba-Kylian Mbappe tandem is one few teams will have an answer to.

3. Belgium (3-0-0)

Previous rank: 3. Both Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have not missed a beat since the end of their outstanding club seasons, the latter in particular is making a robust swing at player of the tournament with his marauding runs around the right channel. Crucially, Eden Hazard even looked to be an approximation of his best self in the win over Finland. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him turning, twisting, right and left, there is not one worry in my mind, he feels strong, he feels happy, his body is reacting well,” said Roberto Martinez of the Real Madrid forward.

4. England (2-1-0)

Previous rank: 4. Top of the table and no goals conceded is nothing to be sniffed at from what was a challenging draw for England, but still there is that nagging sense that a bit more attacking abandon from Gareth Southgate might give his side more wiggle room in the knockout stages. Only Hungary and Finland took fewer shots in the group stages than the Three Lions and Harry Kane’s struggles are as much about the service to him as his own fitness issues. A little more flair might go a long way with the hosts of the semis and the final on a favorable side of the draw to go deep.

5. Netherlands (3-0-0)

Previous rank: 7. They did have the most accommodating of groups, but the Dutch certainly made themselves at home. No one can match their tally of 7.6 expected goals (xG) from the group stage so far, much of which has fallen to liberated central midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and the tyro at wing back that is Denzel Dumfries. Like England and Germany, the draw for the round of 16 has broken favorably for Frank de Boer’s side. Equally, that means that they should be expecting a semifinal berth as a minimum.

6. Portugal (1-1-1)

Previous rank: 6. Portugal and Belgium have by far the hardest path to the knockout stages after Fernando Santos’ side were pipped to second place by Germany, but they do have the most important of weapons in their armory. Though three of Cristiano Ronaldo’s five goals so far this tournament have come from the spot, he leads Euro 2020 in non-penalty xG at 2.5, 10 percent more than nearest rival Kai Havertz. Adding Renato Sanches to midfield gives Portugal the ability to progress the ball quickly into the areas where Ronaldo is still a lights out shooter.

7. Spain (1-2-0)

Previous rank: 9. A paddling of Slovakia was a welcome salve for the national mood in Spain, a reminder that if you are capable of holding the ball in draining conditions you will eventually force the cavalcade of catastrophes that Martin Dubravka and company suffered. Alvaro Morata’s timidity in front of goal is cause for concern but at least others are showing they can pick up the slack.

8. Germany (1-1-1)

Previous rank: 5. Last time out we suggested that the success of Germany’s 3-4-3 might depend on how accommodating opponents were to Robin Gosen’s rampages down the left. Take that away, as Hungary somewhat did, and you end up with the sort of desperately slow, Matthias Ginter-led offense that ground to a halt at the Allianz Arena before a stroke of luck and Jamal Musiala bailed them out. Make no mistake, if Joachim Low’s side repeat that performance against England they will be out.

9. Denmark (1-0-2)

Previous rank: 20. We’ll be honest with you, we really wanted to put Denmark higher in past rankings, it’s just they kept losing and that left them staring at a group-stage exit against Russia. The fearlessness with which they approached that task, even when an Artem Dzyuba penalty chipped away at their lead, augurs well for a clash with Wales where they will believe that Mikkel Damsgaard in particular can terrorize the opposing defense. It certainly helps that Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has taken on a fair weight of creative responsibilities, his 18 shot-creating actions are five more than anyone else has managed at this tournament according to fbref.

10. Sweden (2-1-0)

Previous rank: 10. No team seems to have leaned quite so purposefully into “we don’t want the ball” territory as Sweden, whose 15 percent possession tally against Spain looks to be a benchmark they may hit again in the knockout rounds. Only Hungary had less of the ball in the group stages than Sweden’s 30 percent and the Magyars weren’t facing the likes of Slovakia and Poland. Still, for now you can see a logic to their tactics; Victor Lindelof and Marcus Danielson may have made an almighty error for the second goal Robert Lewandowski scored on Wednesday, but that aside they look to be the anchors of a defensive pairing that can keep it tight at one end whilst Alexander Isak and Emil Forsberg finish counters at the other.

11. Czech Republic (1-1-1)

Previous rank: 8. There was something deeply underwhelming about how the Czechs went about their business in defeat to England. Certainly in the second half, there was a game there to be attacked by Jaroslav Silhavy’s side but they were curiously reticent to do so. They look to be a rather old-fashioned defensive unit — ranking third in the tournament for blocks, second for interceptions — but one that direct runners such as Bukayo Saka can beat quite easily. No team has been dribbled past more often this tournament than the Czech Republic.

12. Croatia (1-1-1)

Previous rank: 17. This feels like a team that waxes and wanes with Luka Modric. The Real Madrid playmaker was responsible for the brilliant goal that broke Scottish hearts at Hampden Park before then assisting Ivan Perisic, the other stand out performer in this Croatia side, for the third. Modric makes 21 percent of his side’s progressive passes; if Spain can shut him down then they may just win the round of 16 tie.

13. Switzerland (1-1-1)

Previous rank: 22. Pummeling Turkey is looking far less impressive three games into the tournament than it might have seemed beforehand. Still, Switzerland are a side that are perhaps more creative than they get credit for, they can keep the ball well and only Denmark and Italy had more shot-creating actions than Vladimir Petkovic’s squad. There is variety to where those chances are coming from as well; Haris Seferovic, Granit Xhaka and Breel Embolo are all in fbref’s top 25 for shot-creating actions with Ricardo Rodriguez and Xherdan Shaqiri in the top 45.

14. Wales (1-1-1)

Previous rank: 12. They probably will not be favorites against Denmark, but with Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey they will have a puncher’s chance against all but Europe’s strongest sides. It may be a while before they have to face them with the winners of Netherlands vs. Czech Republic lying in wait in the quarterfinals. If Rob Page’s side are to get that far, they will need to tighten up a defense that has allowed the second-most shots at the Euros — behind only Turkey — from an average distance that is the third-closest to goal.

15. Ukraine (1-0-2)

Previous rank: 11. The complexities of the Euro 2020 knockout draw must surely be beyond the average man but not, it would seem, Andriy Shevchenko, who turned what might have been a trip to London to face Italy into an altogether more inviting meeting with Sweden in a few hours’ to the north in Glasgow. The brick wall they thudded against in their defeat to Austria may be cause for some concern, not least because when you remove their win against North Macedonia from the equation they have created just 0.9 xG in two games. Shevchenko has also used the fewest players in the tournament with 17. Is there sufficient strength in depth in this Ukraine side?

16. Austria (1-0-2)

Previous rank: 13. Moving David Alaba to a more classical left back role did at least bring more out of him in the win over Ukraine, he shackled Andriy Yarmolenko quite effectively whilst combining with goalscorer Christoph Baumgartner. It has to be said, though, that they are as deeply dull a team as we have seen at this tournament: Fairly steady in defense, deeply unimaginative in attack. It’s hard to see them offering any real opposition to Italy.


Finally, here’s how we’ve ranked the eight teams that have already packed their bags and departed Euro 2020. Turkey, what a disappointment that was…

17. Hungary (0-2-1): Previous rank: 21.

18. Finland (1-0-2): Previous rank: 16.

19. Slovakia (1-0-2): Previous rank: 15.

20. Poland (1-0-2): Previous rank: 19.

21. Russia (1-0-2): Previous rank: 14.

22. Scotland (0-1-2): Previous rank: 18.

23. North Macedonia (0-0-3): Previous rank: 24.

24. Turkey (0-0-3): Previous rank: 23.

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