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Excitement builds ahead of the start of Euro 2020 on Friday evening and people from different countries in Europe will be applauding their home countries.
For many, England will be the center of attention as they prepare for their first game against Croatia on Sunday 13 June. Both teams are in Group D alongside Scotland and the Czech Republic in the tournament, which has been delayed for a year and will start in June. 11.
With Lincoln having such a wide range of nationalities and cultural backgrounds, the results for many other countries in the tournament will be just as important to the city’s residents.
Euro 2020 kicks off Friday with Italy against Turkey and Lincolnite met with a range of fans, including players from Lincoln City, to hear their predictions for their own home country and who will win the tournament, which ends on July 11.
Italy, which won the European Championships in 1968, will face Turkey, Wales and Switzerland in Group A.
Italian chef Antonio Steri, who works at Bello Pizza on Monks Road in Lincoln, has high hopes for his home country at Euro 2020.
He said: “After a disappointing summer in 2018 where we didn’t make the World Cup, we should have the extra fire in us to have a competitive competition in Italy.
“The team is now well rested and motivated to achieve something in the tournament. I think Italy will find its place in the group stage because on paper we are clearly favorites. Looking at the rest of the competition of our day, we can give any team in the competition a run for their money and should aim for a good spot.
“My predictions for the tournament would be that Italy would reach at least one semi-final as they try to avenge their performance in 2018.”
When asked who would win the tournament, he added: “As with the whole tournament there are a lot of favorites in my opinion, but I think it will come down to four teams – Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal.
“France will come out victorious in the end, I think, because they are still upset after losing the 2016 final to Portugal in their own backyard.”
Lincoln City Welsh defender Regan Poole believes Wales will reach the round of 16, saying: “I think they will finish second in the group and be eliminated in the quarter-finals.”
When asked who he thinks would win the tournament, Regan added: “I think France have so much strength and depth in every position and the squad are amazing.”
Belgium, the number one nation in the world, will face Finland, Russia and Denmark in Group B.
Finnish businesswoman Pirjo Holtta owns ‘Pre-Loved from Lincolnshire’ on Burton Road in Lincoln. She said: “Being in Euro 2020 is everything for us Finns. We have been waiting for an important international game for at least three generations.
“This is an incredible opportunity to raise the profile of football in Finland in addition to other very popular sports like ice hockey. The most important game for Finland is against Denmark. If we win, we will have a chance to go much further.
When asked to choose her winner for the tournament, she added: “I hope England win, but I think it will be very close with France!
Group C includes the Netherlands, Austria and Ukraine, as well as North Macedonia who qualified for their very first major tournament.
On Holland’s odds, Lincoln City Dutch center-back Lewis Montsma said: “I think they’ll do well. I hope they can play as a team and I look forward to their matches.
When asked who would win the tournament, he added: “I think Belgium have a very good team with KDB (Kevin De Bruyne), (Dries) Mertens and (Romelu) Lukaku.”
‘Home football’ will ring in the air as England once again try to win their first major trophy since 1966. Croatia, who knocked them out in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, vie with each other with Scotland. , and the Czech Republic.
There will be rivalry within the Lincoln City squad when England take on Scotland on June 18, with many English players in the Imps squad, including Tayo Edun and Conor McGrandles among the Scottish contingent at the LNER stage.
Lincoln City England full-back Tayo Edun spoke about England’s chances, saying: “I think they are going to do well, I expect we will at least reach the semi-finals due to with all our skills and depth, as well as players from good club campaigns.
When asked who would win Euro 2020, Tayo added: “I think France will do it again. Just because they have a World Cup-like squad, so chemistry isn’t an issue. They have also added great talent to the team.
Regarding Scotland’s chances, Conor said: “I actually think Scotland will come out of the group stages and everything after that is a bonus! Well, even if we beat England and don’t qualify, I’ll take it!
Like Tayo, Conor also supports France to win the tournament, adding: “I think France will win it because they have a lot of top class players in almost every position. The fact that they also won the last World Cup will give them enormous confidence ahead of the tournament.
Spain, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden will face each other in Group E.
Spanish dentists Manu Ceconi and Jose Lopez Garrido are eager to cheer on their country with their friends in Lincoln.
Manu said: “I’m sure we have a strong and good group of young players who will lead Spain to the final and win. Since the 2006 World Cup Spain are in a solid position to win and we’ve done it a few times now, so I’m sure we can win it this time around.
Jose said: “I would say Spain could qualify for the quarter-finals, but the Spanish level is much lower than it was 10 years ago. France is my favorite to win the Euro because they are a young and very competitive team and have a world class star in (Kylian) Mbappe.
The Polish owners of Sugarart of Lincoln, Grzegorz and Agnes Grabowski, are also excited as their home country prepares for another major tournament.
Regarding Poland’s chances, Grzegorz said: “I will always support our national team and I believe they can win, but unfortunately that is not always possible. Our national team has a new coach and the team is almost completely rebuilt. Of course we have Robert Lewandowski, but we lost Arkadiusz Milik.
“We have experienced football players and quite a few talented young people going to the tournament. This mix can work, but we don’t know much about it so overall I expect them to come out of the group stage in 2nd place. If it works well for us, we can repeat the result of the last Euro, which was the quarter-final, and after that anything can happen.
Regarding his choice for the winner of the tournament, he added: “It has been a crazy year with COVID so a lot of surprises can happen during the tournament, but for the winner I think it might be England, France or Portugal who will defend their Euro 2016 title. “
David Grech, who is the Slovak director of Amica HR Limited, is proud to see his nation participate in the tournament.
He said: “It is a great honor for any country to participate in Euro 2020. And although Slovakian football has the 1976 European champions, it is considered one of the underdogs of the current competition of the continental championship. As a national team, I can’t wait to see how they perform in the competition. “
He believes France will win the tournament, adding: “Slovakia’s chances of winning the Euro 2020 title are only four hundredths of a percent, according to some computer-generated statistics. On the other hand, France is the most favorable and, in my opinion, has the best chances of winning the overall tournament. “
Portugal hope to defend their title, but will have a tough job after being drawn in the “death group” alongside Germany, France and Hungary.
Léonie is an Erasmus student from France at the University of Lincoln. She is currently studying politics and has enjoyed football since childhood, describing herself as a “strong supporter of my national team”.
She has high hopes for her home country and said: “During Euro 2020 I know we are ready to win. I really think they have every chance of winning. We have the best team since for years all players know each other’s game and everyone is ready to do their best.
“If we don’t win I’m sure that won’t happen, I think England and Belgium have their chances. I will do my best to support my team and watch as many games as possible with other students from The Towers.
Another political student, Thorsten, is also hoping to watch games at The Towers, but will cheer on his native Germany.
Regarding Germany’s chances, he said: “I really expect a better performance than in the 2018 World Cup where we already lost in the group stage. We want to compete for the championship.
“I think they have a good team with great players, but in the end I think other teams could be stronger so if I had to guess I would say Germany qualify for the semi-finals , but no further. “
When asked who would win Euro 2020, he added: “It’s hard to predict but I will go with France because they have the best team overall so if they put everything together they have good chances. “