With just three days left until the delayed start of Euro 2020, anticipation couldn’t be higher.
Fans of each of the 24 teams involved will have dreams of lifting the trophy on July 11th, but there is a lot of football to be played yet.
There is no doubt the usual suspects will be at the forefront of most fans’ early predictions.
The likes of France, Portugal, Belgium and even England are highly backed to go far at Euro 2020.
However, with every major tournament comes at least one surprise package.
Thinking back to Russia’s performance at Euro 2008 or Wales’ incredible semi-final run in 2016, there is hope for fans of every side.
Let’s look at three dark horses to watch out for at Euro 2020:
World ranking: 29
Star player: Burak Yilmaz
Predicted finish: Reach quarter-finals
This current Turkey side is an exciting mix of youth and experience. Lead from the front by veteran skipper Burak Yilmaz, the Crescent Stars could surprise many at Euro 2020.
Şenol Güneş’ side have quietly gone about their business over the last few years building around a new core.
The most recent World Cup qualifying games back in March seemed to be the point in which worldwide fans stopped and took notice.
Their 4-2 thrashing of the Netherlands followed by a 0-3 away win in Norway highlighted their ability to compete with the best.
Turkey play a rigid 4-1-4-1 formation and are built around solidity. Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü leads the backline with Tufan & Milan’s Çalhanoğlu orchestrating the midfield.
Striker Yilmaz, who just won Ligue 1 with Lille, provides the goals and completes what is a very well-rounded side.
Turkey will face Italy in the tournament opener on Friday before games against Wales & Switzerland.
With some luck needed along the way, expect Turkey to make a strong push towards the quarter-finals.
World ranking: 10
Star player: Christian Eriksen
Predicted finish: Reach round of 16
The Danes are still an incredibly underrated side by many, despite being in the top 10 in world rankings.
Managed by Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark have only been beaten by Belgium in their games since the 2018 World Cup.
Their win at Wembley against England in November of 2020 was a huge coup and since then have clocked up an 8-0 win and a draw away at Germany.
Denmark’s squad is littered with top league talent from around Europe.
Kasper Schmeichel remains the number one keeper, with recent Champions League winner Andreas Christiansen playing ahead of him.
The midfield is full of dynamic players with Spurs’ Højbjerg regularly playing alongside ex-Spur’s talisman Christian Eriksen.
There is certainly questions around their striker area with no huge names standing out, however looking at recent results, goals have not been hard to come by.
Expect free-flowing football and a sturdy back line to help the Danes get out of their group.
Going into the knockouts they will provide a huge challenge for any nation they face.
World ranking: 7
Star player: Ciro Immobile
Predicted finish: Reach semi-finals
A nation like Italy being classed as a dark horse may seem out of touch. The Italians have a rich history and won a World Cup only 15 years ago.
Not only that but they also sit 7th in world rankings.
However, in the build-up to this tournament, it seems people have written Italy off entirely and see them as the weakest of the “big” nations.
The squad may not necessarily have the big-name stars of yesteryear, but manager Roberto Mancini has turned things around.
After missing out on the World Cup in Russia, their first qualifying failure since 1958, the Italians have a point to prove.
Mancini has created a new core and culture around the team. Their 4-3-3 set up is solid defensively and thrives in the midfield with a high press.
Going into the Euros, the team is in great form, winning its last seven games without conceding a goal.
Veteran defenders Chiellini and Bonnuci remain integral parts of the team and will lead from the back.
Barella and Locatelli play crucial roles in the midfield getting the ball up to the main man Ciro Immobile.
If the Italians are to go far, Immobile’s goals are sure to be the main reason for success.
Expect this side to cause some serious upsets at Euro 2020 and be one of the teams battling for a semi-final spot.
These three nations add to what is likely to be a fascinating tournament ahead.
Fans are sure to see a roller-coaster of events unfold over the next month, starting with Italy vs Turkey on Friday night.
With just three days to go until the tournament, let us know your thoughts on your teams to watch!