With Euro 2020 upon us, This Is Anfield’s writers and contributors have been giving their predictions ahead of the tournament.
One of international football’s biggest tournaments gets underway on Friday evening, with Turkey and Italy meeting in Rome (9pm BST).
As the Euros prepare to get started, we’ve asked an assortment of TIA regulars to give their predictions on five different outcomes.
Jack Lusby – @LusbyJack
Winner: Looking at the groups, I think some of the big nations might struggle to progress, so I’m going for Italy.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane
Best player: Kylian Mappe
Liverpool player to shine most: Probably Thiago, but I think Neco Williams has the opportunity to be a dark horse…
Surprise team: Poland
Joanna Durkan – @JoannaDurkan_
Henry Jackson – @HenryJackson87
Golden Boot: Karim Benzema
Best player: Whoever Gareth Southgate starts most out of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish (he won’t play both, which is criminal!)
Liverpool player to shine most: Diogo Jota
Surprise team: Denmark
Matt Ladson – @mattladson
Winner: France – if they can come through that group of death!
Golden Boot: Kylian Mbappe, after a hat-trick against Hungary in the group stage.
Best player: I can’t say Mbappe again, so I’ll go with Phil Foden.
Liverpool player to shine most: Thiago Alcantara, la!
Surprise team: North Macedonia have surprised me already because I had no clue they were in it!
James Nalton – @JDNalton
Karl Matchett – @karlmatchett
John O’Sullivan – @NotoriousJOS
Red – @TaintlessRed
Liam Togher – @liamtogher88
Winner: The talent from which Didier Deschamps can choose is bordering on obscene, so much so that the likes of Olivier Giroud, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele and Kingsley Coman are all unlikely to make the starting XI.
Les Bleus also have a champions’ mentality from their World Cup triumph, while several of their key players are also serial winners at club level.
Good luck to the defences tasked with shackling Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.
Golden Boot: Forgive me for choosing a former Everton and Man United player, but Romelu Lukaku’s goal record at international level is superb, while he has also been banging them in consistently for Inter Milan this season.
Add in that Belgium should go far and could rack up some sizeable goal hauls against Denmark, Finland and Russia in their group, and I think their all-time leading scorer could top up his tally rather nicely over the summer.
Best player: N’Golo Kante. The man who seemed to be everywhere during the Champions League final is class personified, while he also has the bonus of playing for the tournament favourites.
While Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann et al fire the bullets to pick off France’s opposition, Kante will readily do the unsung slog of stifling the teams his side face.
He could be the one player Deschamps would least like to lose during the finals.
Liverpool player to shine most:Diogo Jota. The 24-year-old might not have been at his swashbuckling best in the weeks after returning from his three-month injury over the winter, but we all know just how deadly he can be when he is on-song.
Like Kante, he gets to enjoy playing for one of the tournament favourites in holders Portugal, and he is a probable starter for Fernando Santos’ side.
Having watched from home as his compatriots triumphed in 2016, Jota is now a key figure in this Portuguese line-up.
Surprise team: Turkey. Led by Senol Gunes, who guided them to third at the 2002 World Cup, the Crescent Stars conceded only three goals in qualifying and took four points against France along the way.
They also spanked Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers in March, while they have a strong balance from Caglar Soyuncu and Ozan Kabak in defence to Lille’s potent duo Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici in attack.
Their side of the draw also seems favourable, so I can see them being among the quarter-finalists.
Dan Clubbe – @dan_clubbe