Some people may have seen these before but this was an opportunity to rank the 24 countries that were taking part in the Euros into some sort of ranking. I have split the teams into four sections that will be designed to give some idea of where they might end up.
I am starting with a couple of rules that need to be taken into account, so please read these before telling me I am wrong. The first is that this is only based on the three games we have seen in the group stage, nothing else, regardless of previous reputation etc. Second is that the eight teams who have been knocked out of the tournament have to be ranked 17-24, as they can’t finish any higher in the actual tournament.
So, on with the rankings.
- Italy – 9 points and +7 goal difference
Probably the strongest looking team based on the three games they played, eased up against Wales by making so many changes. Have to be fancied to get to at least the semi-finals based on this performance, although the draw means that teams 1 and 2 in this ranking are due to meet in the quarter finals.
- Belgium – 9 points and +6 goal difference
Challenged by Denmark after routing Russia, so they brought probably the Premier League’s best two players of the last five years off the bench and won 2-1. Have looked susceptible at the back, particularly against pace but like 2018 have started the tournament strong and will be a force to be reckoned with. Have a very tough route to the final potentially.
- Netherlands – 9 points and +6 goal difference
Beat every team in front of them. Were poor in the second half against Ukraine but still won. Probably another run to the semi final before an honourable defeat but in Depay have a star who has that X factor that so many teams want.
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- France – 5 points and +1 goal difference
Yes they drew with Hungary and Portugal, but they topped the most difficult group. Excellent performance against Germany when they never got out of second gear and beat them. Benzema’s return has added something extra to their attack, though they look less formidable than three weeks ago.
- England – 7 points and +2 goal difference
Solid if unspectacular performances against Croatia and Czech Republic (lets not talk about Scotland) mean that this team looks defensively sound. No goals conceded so far and teams win tournaments based on not being beaten, our old friends from international tournaments will test that on Tuesday.
- Sweden – 7 points and +2 goal difference
Held Spain at bay brilliantly and made sure that they won their game at the death against Poland. They look the weakest of the group winners but can’t be ruled out, Alexander Isak looks as good as previously billed.
Can’t be ruled out
- Portugal – 4 points +1 goal difference
Drew three games five years ago and won the thing. Unconvincing against Hungary and fell apart against Germany, but they have the top scorer and he is Europe’s best ever footballer. Will be a challenge against Belgium but can’t be discounted.
- Germany – 4 points +1 goal difference
Massive performance against Portugal kept them in it and what a performance
- Wales – 4 points +1 goal difference
First half against the Swiss looked as bad as Turkey, but their performance after that was excellent. Bale should have scored the penalty and at the end when down to ten against Italy. Without him at full power, Aaron Ramsey has been excellent.
Austria – 6 points +1 goal difference
Two good wins against Ukraine and North Macedonia, progress to the last 16 is a good start to the tournament but you would imagine Italy will prove too strong. Have looked solid at the back but lack a clinical edge at times.
Spain – 5 points +5 goal difference
This is nothing like the Spain of Xavi and Iniesta, it looks more like Newcastle with Joelinton. The Slovakia game was nothing like the other two and you get the impression that Morata is playing like he did at Chelsea. Need a spark to get going.
- Czech Republic – 4 points +1 goal difference
Should have had the group sown up after two games, were better than both teams they played but let Croatia get out with a point. Slipped from first to third and that could have huge implications for their progress.
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- Switzerland – 4 points -1 goal difference
Lucky to have the Turks in their group, because otherwise I think they would be going home. Looked great against Wales for an hour but looked petrified of Kiefer Moore. Maybe it was the bandage? Embolo looks a good player, could be the next one NUFC are linked to for the next ten years.
- Denmark – 3 points +1 goal difference
Unbelievable performance to recover from the events of the first game and that defeat (with a missed penalty) as well as the poor luck to lose against Belgium (23 shots, 1 goal) but showed real strength to get through with a spectacular performance.
- Croatia – 4 points +1 goal difference
Poor in their first two games and then looking like the 2018 version in the final game. Midfield is looking slower and no Mandzukic is a big loss. Could get past Spain but I imagine that is where their tournament will end.
- Ukraine – 3 points -1 goal difference
Worst team to get out the groups I would say, would fancy a fairly comfortable win for Sweden. Just could not stop conceding goals.
- Slovakia – 3 points -5 goal difference
Dubravka was having a great tournament until fifteen minutes to go against Sweden, then he and his team fell apart. Even saving a penalty against Spain couldn’t help him.
- Hungary – 2 points -3 goal difference
Almost caused the upset to shock the tournament, but like against Portugal ran out of steam with ten minutes to go. I think they would have got through in any other group.
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Happy to be there
A little unlucky here but bar a second half against the Danes that was probably like an out of body experience for the players they didn’t threaten at all.
One good game against Finland, capitulated against the Danes. But for that win would probably have been the worst team in the tournament.
One-man team pretty much and he was great against Sweden, the supporting cast were adequate at best. Second major tournament in a row they have disappointed.
Not scoring goals and Gilmour’s isolation made sure they did not get out the group, completely outplayed by Croatia. Steve Clarke needs to rethink his squad.
- North Macedonia
Anyone who did not enjoy Goran Pandev’s goal and his substitution in the last group game has a heart of stone, a great moment for him and his country who were the weakest side entering the competition.
The darkest of dark horses made an early exit and were outplayed in every game.
STEPHEN ORD @smord84