Post Credit: MC Nitro
Head coach: Roberto Martinez
Captain: Eden Hazard
Most capped player: Jan Vertonghen (126)
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku (59)
FIFA ranking: 1
European Championship appearances: 6 (first in 1972)
Best run: Runners-up in 1980
Group rivals: Denmark, Finland, and Russia
Key players: Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard, Toby Alderweireld, Youri Tielemans.
Status: They’ve been underachievers for a pretty long time, Belgium’s golden generation of footballers brought the team out of the wilderness of football in 2015 and they have been a force to reckon with to date.
Their run was ended by Wales, shockingly, in the quarter-final round of the 2016 finals, but they have experienced a meteoric rise to the topmost echelon of European football since then.
They won bronze in the 2018 World Cup tournament and they have since dislodged world champions France to sit top of FIFA ranking, becoming the best team in the world since April.
Belgium have established themselves as a European and world football powerhouse, but they need to win a trophy to consolidate that status. Can these golden generation Belgian stars finally deliver the elusive holy grail this year? Who can doubt them?
Verdict: One of my ten favorites to win the Euros this year. I expect them to easily win their group and go as far as the final.
Head coach: Kasper Hjulmand (Dane)
Captain: Simon Kjaer
Most capped player: Peter Schmeichel (129)
Top scorer: Poul Nielsen and Jon Dahl Tomasson (52)
FIFA ranking: 10
European Championship appearances: 9 (first in 1964)
Best run: Champions in 1992
Group rivals: Belgium, Finland, and Russia
Key players: Kasper Schmeichel, Christian Eriksen, Martin Braithwaite, Thomas Delaney, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Yousef Poulsen.
Status: Champions in 1992, Denmark as a footballing nation have struggled to reproduce the great generation of players that brought them great success in the 90s.
Denmark’s golden generation of Peter Schmeichel, Michael Laudrup, Brian Laudrup, etc won the Euros and the FIFA Confederation Cup (1995) and reached the quarter-final round of the 1998 World Cup losing to Brazil, narrowly.
The new generation of Danish players have however struggled to replicate the greatness of their more illustrious predecessors. They continue to be in the group of ‘also-rans’ and they have not been a big force in World and European football.
Whether they can change the tides this time around is up to them. They have to battle group B with overwhelming tournament favorites, Belgium and potential whipping boys, Finland and Russia, to stand a chance of getting close to winning the trophy.
Verdict: Tipping them for the second spot in the group.