Group E of Euro 2020 is undoubtedly deep. While Spain is the clear frontrunner, none of the four sides can be counted out as a potential Round of 16 participant. Though it stops short of being nicknamed a Group of Death in my estimation, it is certainly one of the more challenging groups to try to advance from.
So who will make it out of this gauntlet? You’ve waited one year longer than anybody ever has (since it started in 1960) to find out. Check out BetMGM’s Euro 2020 odds to see what will happen when Saint Petersburg hosts the opener between Poland and Slovakia on June 14, and that’s just the first match.
UEFA Euro 2020 Schedule: Group E
All times listed are CEST (Central European Summer Time).
June 14, 18:00: Poland vs. Slovakia (Saint Petersburg)
June 14, 21:00: Spain vs. Sweden (Seville)
June 18, 15:00: Sweden vs. Slovakia (Saint Petersburg)
June 19, 21:00: Spain vs. Poland (Seville)
June 23, 18:00: Slovakia vs. Spain (Seville)
June 23, 18:00: Sweden vs. Poland (Saint Petersburg)
Manager: Paulo Sousa
FIFA World Ranking: No. 21
Odds to Win Group E: +550
Odds to Win Euros: +8000
Poland reached the quarterfinals of the Euros last time, and the Bialo-czerwoni (The White and Reds) would like to take things a step further. This may be possible when you have one of the world’s all-time top scorers in Robert Lewandowski (459 all-time club goals) on your side.
That’s a nice starting point, with a majority of those tallies coming at a very high level (274 in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich).
There is a wonderful blend of youth talent and veterans with this side. While Spain may be a tall order for the Poles, Slovakia is clearly winnable and Sweden isn’t out of the question.
Poland will always be in the mix to be competitive when team captain Lewandowski is available. Bayern Munich’s star has posted one of the top international scoring marks of all-time with 66 tallies — good enough for No. 21 on the historical chart. He’s six behind the next-best active player, No. 12 Lionel Messi of Argentina (72 goals). Lewandowski undoubtedly will tally, but how often will it happen in Euro?
Marseille’s Arkadiusz Milik (15 goals career, 59 caps) is also a threat up top and will be Lewandowski’s wingman in the lineup when it comes to offensive production. Serie A defender Kamil Glik (Benevento — relegated this past season), and Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak are two more cornerstones with World Cup experience for The White and Reds.
Manager: Štefan Tarkovič
FIFA World Ranking: No. 36
Odds to Win Group E: +1200
Odds to Win Euros: +35000
Slovakia are here for the second time, thanks to a playoff in the UEFA Nations League. This is an uphill battle for the Sokoli (The Falcons), who did make it to the Round of 16 in 2016. That was the most successful finish on a big stage that the side had ever had since becoming independent of Czechoslovakia in the 1990s.
The leadup to Euro 2020 has been decent, with no losses in 2021 — but mostly it has been a bevy of draws against lesser competition. A win against Russia in World Cup qualification and a draw with Euro 2020 qualifier Austria were strong showings though. Still, the Slovakians are considered the longshot in this tough group.
Captain Marek Hamšík (Goteborg midfielder in Sweden) is the veteran at 33 years old with 126 caps (and a Slovakian-record 26 career goals). Defender Milan Škriniar of Inter Milan is stout in the back and will be critical on a roster that has a lot of older veterans and younger, inexperienced players who don’t play at as high a club level and he does.
Also, keep an eye on Napoli midfielder Stanislav Lobotka. He’s in his prime (26-years-old) and still hungry.
Manager: Luis Enrique
FIFA World Ranking: No. 6
Odds to Win Group E: -300
Odds to Win Euros: +800
Is it surprising Spain is one of the top five favorites to win Euro 2020? Of course not. La Roya (The Red One) was the most dominant side in the world from 2008 to 2012, winning two Euros (2008 and 2012) and one World Cup (2010) after never winning a World Cup before, and not winning the Euros since 1964.
So are Spain in a youth movement? While this side has some veteran talent on it, there is some talent among the youth. So how has Spain’s form been? They haven’t lost since a head-scratching UEFA Nations League match in Oct. 2020 to Ukraine, and that was eight matches ago. And the 6-0 win over Germany last November in Nations League play gives a clue into what’s possible with this side when it gets angry.
Introducing — the Group E favorites.
Where does it start and end? Certainly, you can’t begin a discussion about this side without mentioning Sergio Busquets, who has been through the special times for Spanish soccer over the last decade and change. The Barcelona star has 123 caps with the national team as one of the top defensive midfielders in the world, and he will serve as Spanish captain in Euro 2020.
While many of his contemporaries of the past great teams of The Red One have retired, Busquets will be one of the key components of any success with this side.
Midfielders Thiago (Liverpool) and Koke (Atletico Madrid) are two more reasons Spain is considered to have one of the best midfield setups in the world, and of course, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is generally regarded as one of the best at his craft.
Manager: Janne Andersson
FIFA World Ranking: No. 18
Odds to Win Group E: +650
Odds to Win Euros: +10000
No, Zlatan isn’t going to magically show up. That’s certain now. The rosters are set.
But that doesn’t mean the Blågult (The Blue and Yellow) aren’t going to have success in Euro 2020. There’s a strong youth core with this side, and there’s solid leadership coming from the veterans. This side hasn’t had a lot of success in the Euros since a third-place finish in 1992, but it has consistently qualified to be in it.
The 20th-place finish of Euro 2016 stings, but this is a chance to progress. Standing in the way is heavy Euro 2020 betting odds favorite Spain and an intriguing Polish team. This isn’t going to be an easy road for the Swedes, but it is a group this side can survive — potentially via the third-place finish route, depending on the other five groups and how they perform.
Juventus midfielder Dejan Kulusevski and Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak form the youth movement for Sweden, and they are quite talented. They could be breakout stars at Euro 2020.
Forward Marcus Berg has scored 24 goals for Sweden, but it will be interesting to see how much he can contribute as a 34-year old. Isak may surpass him, status-wise, with a good showing in this tournament.
Defensively, Manchester United’s Victor Lindelöf is as stout as they come and is in his prime (26-years-old).
Teams most likely to qualify from Group E
Spain should take Group E, though Poland and Sweden could take a chunk of flesh out of the Spaniards if the conditions are right this month. And for that matter, Slovakia could take a chunk of flesh out of Poland and Sweden — that’s what makes this group so fantastic.
Look for Spain to advance as the winners, but not with a perfect nine points. Poland will take the No. 2 spot, but Sweden will produce enough points to contend for one of the golden-ticket No. 3-finish advancement slots in Euro 2020.
Check out all of BetMGM’s Euro 2020 lead-up coverage below.
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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All America teams and covered FCS college football for HERO Sports … and once ruined his knee in a soccer match while trying to mark a future U.S. National Team forward, Jeff Cunningham. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.