The UEFA European Championship is one of the most unpredictable tournaments in world soccer. In 2004, Greece came out of nowhere to win the tournament, shocking the world in the process. In 2016, Portugal went on to win after drawing all three games during the Group Stage. When it comes to Euro 2020 predictions and betting odds, it’s hard to count any team out. Here are five dark horse teams that could surprise the world by winning the 2020 Euros.
The Netherlands failed to qualify for the last Euros in 2016 and were also absent at the World Cup last summer. But out of the darkest days in the nation’s soccer history, a new generation has emerged and is ready to make the Dutch contenders on the world stage. With Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt, Holland has perhaps the best center back tandem of any international side. They also have emerging playmakers Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek, the two players most responsible (along with de Ligt) for Ajax reaching the Champions League semifinals last season. If they can find consistent goal scoring from the likes of Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong, and Steven Bergwijn, the Netherlands will be a serious threat at the Euros in 2020.
As reigning European champions, it’s not hard to see Portugal as a dark horse, especially after they won the Nations League this past summer. However, they only have the eighth-best odds of repeating as European champs. That being said, when you have Cristiano Ronaldo, even if he’ll turn 35 in 2020, you have a chance. The Portuguese also have Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, who’s quickly becoming one of the top players in the world. Also, there’s no telling how good wunderkind João Félix will be by next summer. It won’t be solely about Ronaldo at the 2020 Euros, giving Portugal a chance to repeat.
Despite playing in the World Cup finals last summer, oddsmakers still aren’t giving Croatia much respect. However, from start to finish, they were probably the most consistent and tactically savvy team in Russia last year (remember, France started slowly). In fairness, Croatia will be one of the older teams at the Euros, as they have a golden generation that’s moving toward the end of their careers. But the likes of Luka Modrić, Ivan Perišić, and Ivan Rakitić still look like they have something left in the tank. That group is still capable of making some noise at the Euros, especially if the Croatians can find a few more young players who are capable of contributing at the highest level.
Admittedly, Poland doesn’t have a strong history in major tournaments. But they did reach the quarterfinals and finish fifth at the Euros in 2016. They also have a player in Robert Lewandowski who is capable of putting a team on his back. That alone gives them a chance to surprise people and do something special at the Euros. They just have to tighten up defensively and give Lewandowski a little more support than he got at the World Cup last summer. If their star striker gets hot, Poland is capable of making a deep run at the Euros.
Obviously, Sweden is a long shot, but they proved that they could play with the big boys after reaching the quarterfinals at the World Cup last summer. They are by no means the most talented team in the world, but they do have Emil Forsberg, who’s a world-class playmaker in the midfield. The Swedes also know who they are and how they can win. They embrace the fact that they often defend in blocks and play on the counter. That style of play isn’t pretty, but it can be effective for a team like Sweden, which makes them a dark horse to watch at the 2020 Euros.