The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship begins in under two weeks and 24 national sides are gearing up for their chance at European glory.
Six groups of four will be battling it out for their place in the knockout stages.
After the group stages conclude, a maximum of three from a group can progress.
Two groups will only have two teams progress because only four third-place sides are needed to make up the last 16.
Group A is up first – Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales.
Italy has been one of the standout national sides in Europe recently and is unbeaten in 27 games.
Roberto Mancini’s men are favourites to win Group A with a resolute defence and strong attack.
Veterans like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will be part of the side but younger players will also prove important if Italy live up to expectations.
In particular, Nico Barella, Federico Chiesa and Gigi Donnarumma will help to create a fine mix of young and old Azzurri.
In addition, many players in the squad are in their prime years.
Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and Jorginho are among those at the top of their game.
The talent of Barella, Verratti and Locatelli in midfield will be tough for the opposition to suppress.
All their group games will have home advantage as they are at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Therefore, the Italians will have a pre-emptive edge over their group stage opponents.
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@azzurri) June 5, 2021
Switzerland is looking to make a statement at the Euros this summer.
In recent years, their defence has been impressive, conceding only six in eight games to qualify for the competition.
Specifically, Bundesliga stars Yann Sommer and Manuel Akanji will be key in maintaining this.
However, they have lost to some of the top sides in Europe recently.
Now is the perfect time to change that with Haris Seferovic in his prime and Xherdan Shaqiri looking to make a point this summer.
Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler will be among those who will look to connect defence and attack.
Furthermore, Djibril Sow and Denis Zakaria will give the national side options in midfield.
Therefore, Switzerland’s final group game may be the decider for second place as they face a young Turkey side in the closing round.
Turkey is one of the dark horses of the European Championships this summer because of their strong squad that has flown under the radar.
Manager Senol Gunes is in his second stint with his home country after a successful period at Besiktas.
The 2002 UEFA Coach of the Year has a talent-filled squad once again ahead of Euro 2020, the youngest at the tournament.
The legendary Turkish manager took the side to third place at the 2002 World Cup.
Above all, Gunes will want to be a part of another strong tournament with this new generation.
Ozan Kabak and Caglar Soyuncu offer a strong defensive partnership with Zeki Celik providing width at full-back.
The chemistry between Celik and strikers Yusuf Yazici and Burak Yilmaz will be important for the Turks.
The trio won Ligue 1 together with Lille this season.
As a result of this, they will be hungry for more success this summer.
Okay Yokuşlu and Hakan Calhanoglu will offer support for both ends of the pitch in midfield and Ozan Tufan will provide some individual magic.
The side has adequate depth – with Merih Demiral and Orkun Kokcu among those waiting in the wings.
The final side in Group A is 2016 semi-finalists Wales.
The Wales hierarchy will be hoping for a similar tournament this year and have chosen a squad that reflects this hope.
Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu will play in central defence and Neco Williams and Ben Davies will play on either side of them.
Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen will supply a strike force that includes Gareth Bale and Harry Wilson.
David Brooks and Ben Cabango are also included in the squad but the strength of Wales’ opponents may prove too powerful, in contrast.
However, caretaker manager Rob Page has won four games and drawn two since taking the reins.
Their form could carry over into the tournament and turn Group A on its head.
Group A Fixtures: Turkey v Italy, Friday, 11th June 20:00. Wales v Switzerland, Friday, 12th June 14:00. Turkey v Wales, Wednesday 16th June 17:00. Italy v Switzerland, Wednesday 16th June 20:00. Italy v Wales, Sunday, 20th June 17:00. Switzerland v Turkey, Sunday, 20th June 17:00.