Football

Gareth Southgate: 8 to 10 teams can win Euro 2020

If England top their group, they could face Germany, France or Portugal in last 16

England manager Gareth Southgate believes the margins will be fine and "eight or 10 big nations" are in the frame to win Euro 2020, after the draw for the tournament was made yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Three Lions will be among the favourites after reaching last year's World Cup semi-finals, although they will be up against Croatia, the side that knocked them out, in Group D along with Czech Republic and a team who will emerge from the play-offs next March - Norway, Serbia, Israel or Scotland.

With the tournament being spread across 12 nations, England will have the advantage of playing all their group games at Wembley, as well as the semi-final and final if they progress.

Asked for his thoughts on the draw, Southgate, who played in England's Euro 96 squad that reached the semi-finals, said: "I'm never sure whether it's a good draw. We have played two of the teams before and for us to play at Wembley is something special.

"We know the quality of (Croatia's) midfielders. That's a top-level fixture. There are eight to 10 big countries. The margins are really, really fine."

If England win their group, they could face a last-16 tie in Dublin against Germany, France or holders Portugal - all of whom are in a tough-looking Group F.

Victory in that game would take them to a Rome quarter-final, possibly against Spain. Finishing second in their group may actually be the preferable path.

But Southgate dismissed suggestions that England could have an easier draw by being group runners-up.

"If you can win and be top seeds, then you have to take control of your destiny," he said.

"Let's hope we have the decision to make. We will take on whoever that comes."

France face a major hurdle if they are to add the European Championship to their World Cup crown after being drawn with former world champions Germany and reigning European champions Portugal.

GROUP OF DEATH

"The group has the winners of the last three big international tournaments," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "We are going to believe in our chances."

Germany will play all their group games in Munich, where they will host France in their first match on June 16 and then Portugal on June 20.

"It is the hardest group, but we must accept it. It means we will have to be ready right away," said France coach Didier Deschamps.

Group F will be completed by one of the winners of the play-offs to be played next March, leaving open several possibilities including Hungary, who will play two games in Budapest should they make it.

France beat Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 on home soil, before slumping in the final against Portugal.

With the four best third-placed sides all going through, it is very possible all three will progress to the last 16, but Germany coach Joachim Loew is in no doubt France - who followed their 1998 World Cup triumph by winning Euro 2000 - are the strongest team.

"They are the world champions and have been getting stronger for the last three of four years. They are the group favourites," he said.

Like Germany, Italy will also have the advantage of playing all their group games at home.

Roberto Mancini's side open their Group A campaign at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on June 12 against Turkey before facing Switzerland five days later and Wales on June 21.

But Mancini insisted that his side are not the favourites.

He said: "Lucky Italy? It depends on your point of view. Switzerland are a great team, Wales can be the surprise and Turkey are full of good youngsters.

"We are not favourites, they are all teams that play good football." - REUTERS, AFP

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