Euro 2020 predictions revisited: What did we get wrong?

Sports Wednesday 14/July/2021 07:52 AM
By: xinhua
Euro 2020 predictions revisited: What did we get wrong?
Dixon correctly predicted Italy would claim their second ever European Championship title in a tournament

Beijing: 51 matches, 142 goals and one month after Euro 2020 began, the tournament ended with Italy bouncing back from failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by claiming their first European Championship title since 1968.

As new stars emerged and established ones faded, it's now time to look back at Xinhua's pre-tournament predictions to find out what Michael Butterworth, Jonathan Dixon, Tobie Taljaard and Michael Place got right and wrong.

Who will win Euro 2020?

Dixon has earned the right to feel a little smug, correctly predicting that Italy would claim their second ever European Championship title in a tournament in which the Azzurri were the class of the field. Perhaps more in hope than expectation, Butterworth picked England, but the Three Lions' young squad showed huge promise before agonisingly losing out to Italy on penalties in the final. Taljaard and Place were considerably wide of the mark in plumping for world champions France, who never truly got going and were knocked out by Switzerland in the round of 16.

Who or what will be Euro 2020's surprise package?

Dixon falls back down to earth with a bump here, as both he and Place put their faith in a Turkey side that lost all three matches and was arguably the tournament's biggest disappointment. Butterworth's pick of Sweden at least made it through the group stage, and might have made the quarterfinal had Marcus Danielson's red card not turned the tide against Ukraine. Whether the Netherlands can really be considered dark horses is a question in itself, but Taljaard's men's defensive frailties were all too evident in their round of 16 defeat to the Czech Republic.

And the biggest disappointment?

Nobody covered themselves in glory here, though Taljaard probably takes the category for choosing Portugal, who exited limply in the round of 16 at the hands of Belgium. Butterworth plumped for Spain, who exceeded expectations on their way to the semifinals, while Place had no faith in an England side who were a penalty shootout away from winning the whole thing. Taking a different approach, Dixon felt the limited attendances would detract from the spectacle, but even in restricted numbers, the fans made themselves heard and reminded so many of us what we have been missing from sporting events over the past 18 months.

Who will be top goalscorer?

A better category for Xinhua's finest. While nobody plumped for five-goal heroes Ronaldo or Patrik Schick, Taljaard and Dixon both opted for Romelu Lukaku, who notched four goals, the same number as Butterworth's pick of Harry Kane. However, Place's faith in 2018 World Cup golden boy Kylian Mbappe was hugely misplaced, with the Frenchman failing to trouble the scorers as France crashed out in the round of 16.

Who will be Euro 2020's best player?

A tricky one to judge. Nobody chose Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who UEFA voted as their Player of the Tournament, though Dixon did at least go for his teammate Marco Verratti, who recovered from injury to lead the Italian midfield with typical authority. Butterworth's pick of Kevin De Bruyne showed flashes of brilliance, but his tournament was a frustratingly injury-affected one as Belgium lost out to Italy in the quarterfinals. Taljaard's choice of N'Golo Kante was his typical all-action self in France's midfield, but was unable to prevent his side snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Switzerland. Place fared even worse by plumping for Kante's teammate Mbappe, whose pedestrian tournament was made worse by missing the decisive penalty in the shootout against the Swiss.

And the best young player?

A clear winner here, as Place went for Pedri, who scooped UEFA's award for Young Player of the Tournament and looks set to be a mainstay in Spain's midfield for the next decade. Butterworth's choice of Donyell Malen grabbed a couple of assists, but was also guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance against the Czech Republic that could have seen the Netherlands progress at their opponents' expense. Taljaard plumped for Phil Foden, who started brightly for England but was displaced as the tournament went on, while to Dixon's chagrin, the tournament woes of Mbappe have already been well documented above.