Excitement is starting to build with the European Championships just a matter of months away, and if you fancy a bet on UEFA Euro 2020, England are tipped to bring it home!
To celebrate 60 years of the competition, 12 cities across the continent will be showcasing games, including Glasgow, Dublin and Amsterdam, before London’s Wembley Stadium plays host to the two semi-finals and the final.
20 teams have already been confirmed for the summer spectacle and the final groups will be decided next month with 16 teams vying for the final four spots.
The stand-out group has to be Group F with holders Portugal, current World Cup champions France and 2014 world champions Germany all going head-to-head, whilst bitter rivals Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland could meet in a crucial play-off final in Belfast should they both win their matches against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovakia, respectively.
Out of the 20 teams that have already secured their place and the 16 teams hoping to make it to the lucrative finals, there are a number of Newcastle players, so we have come up with a lethal five-a-side Magpies squad.
Slovakia international Martin Dúbravka is kicking off our five-a-side team and, let’s face it, his six foot two inch frame is going to work wonders in between those tiny sticks. The 31-year-old joined the Magpies from Sparta Prague in January 2018 making 12 appearances across the course of the rest of the season. However, in the 2018-19 season the Slovakian started all 38 of Newcastle’s Premier League games and is on course to do the same this season – already starting all 25 of their top division outings.
Dúbravka has 24 caps for his national team and started all eight of Slovakia’s Euro 2020 qualifiers, although his country’s place in the finals isn’t guaranteed. They will need to beat the Republic of Ireland before seeing off either Bosnia or Northern Ireland to secure their place.
We’ve gone for two at the back, starting with Switzerland international Fabian Schӓr. The ball-playing centre-half moved to St. James’ Park from La Liga side Deportivo de La Coruña in 2018, making 25 appearances for the Magpies last season before adding another 19 to his tally this term.
The 28-year-old has an impressive 51 international caps and started five of Switzerland’s European qualifying matches as they automatically qualified for the tournament.
England’s Danny Rose will partner Schӓr at the back, while also adding some attacking quality to the side. The 29-year-old is a fresh face at the club having just signed last month on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. Rose’s only appearance for the Magpies thus far is a substitute appearance against Norwich City.
The left-back has 29 caps for the Three Lions, but only made three of Gareth Southgate’s starting XIs in the Euro 2020 qualifiers and is hoping a revival at Newcastle will bolster his chances come the summer.
Scotland’s Matt Ritchie will rule the roost in the centre of the park. The St. James’ Park favourite is into his fourth season at the club and has shown his ability to score goals and create chances – banging in an impressive 12 Championship goals in his first season after moving from Bournemouth.
However, Ritchie, who has 16 caps for the Tartan Army, has only made two appearances for the national squad since 2016, pulling out of numerous squads due to injuries and recovering from knocks, so his place at the competition is in doubt, let alone Scotland’s, who have a tricky play-off path.
While it is unlikely any of Newcastle’s strikers will make it to the Euros, we have still decided to go with Allan Saint-Maximin leading the line. The exhilarating forward joined Steve Bruce’s side in the summer from French side OGC Nice, signing a six-year deal and has already made 16 appearances in front of the Geordie faithful.
The 22-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for France, but has represented his country at under-17, under-20 and under-21 level. However, if Saint-Maximin can build on his cracking solo effort against Oxford United in the FA Cup, he might just be in with a shout of catching the eye of France’s head coach Didier Deschamps.