Italy are closing in on this summer’s European Championships, and I can’t help but believe competition for the trophy is dwindling.
On paper, our next opponents Belgium should be the toughest to overcome, but having watched every minute of their participation thus far, I’m finding very little to worry about. Denmark were all over them until they brought Kevin de Bruyne off the bench, who completely changed the game. The Man City star was forced off against Portugal with injury however, and if he is confirmed as absent then I’m certain we will be able to overcome them.
Up next will likely be Spain, who have so far ranged from completely controlling to completely out of sorts. They had suffered very few shots on target in the group stages, with just 12 saves having needed to be made, but they have severely lacked that clinical edge in front of goal. Funnily enough, they turned their early struggles around to score five goals in each of their last two matches, but looked dangerously close to be eliminated by Croatia yesterday. Switzerland impressed against France, but I struggle to believe they would enjoy as much success against a stronger defensive unit in Spain.
The final should then be contended with either Germany or England, who go head-to-head this evening. On paper and in theory, these two sides are difficult to separate, but the pedigree of Joachim Low’s side could well see them through. Gareth Southgate has struggled to set his side up to create enough in front of goal so far, and I believe this could be his undoing.
While on current form, we have to be the favourites at this point, if the Germans were to kick up a head of steam, they could well be extremely dangerous, and Roberto Mancini will need to be at his motivational best to overcome a fired up German team.
Should Italy now be favourites to lift the trophy? Who else deserves to be in the conversation as European Champions?