After a year-long delay, Euro 2020 is finally upon us.
A new-look Italy under Roberto Mancini are dark horses, while it will be intriguing to see how Spain perform without any Real Madrid players for the first time in their major tournament history.
With all three of their group-stage games taking place at Wembley – as well as the semi-finals and final – could football be coming home for England? Will Harry Kane, top scorer at the World Cup in 2018, secure the Golden Boot here?
And which young players will shine on a stage that feels as though it has more spectators than ever?
Here, we at Indy Sport make our predictions…
Who will win Euro 2020?
Miguel Delaney (Chief Football Writer): France – I don’t say that with great confidence, though. This will be a hugely skewed tournament, and there are ingredients for a lot of upsets
Mark Critchley (Northern Football Correspondent): Italy. Everyone’s a little flawed but Italy’s record through qualifying and particularly over the last year is exceptional. There’s a lot of talent in a defined shape and a favourable route to at least the last eight, which is more than can be said for some of the other contenders.
Vithushan Ehantharajah (Sports Feature Writer): France – how can they not?
Ben Burrows (Sports Editor): France. I’m not as bullish as some but they have as good a squad as any and that all-important tournament-winning experience.
Lawrence Ostlere (Assistant Sports Editor): France. There are lots of very good teams – I really like the look of Portugal – but France are a cut above and they know how to win this sort of thing, of course.
Alex Pattle: France are the easy answer. The easy answer is rarely right, but it’s tough to bet against the world champions.
Karl Matchett: Along the same lines as the rest, France to win but with Italy and Portugal their greatest challengers who could feasibly turn up with a big win on the day.
Who will be runners-up?
MD: England, although so much depends on that last-16 game.
MC: France. They’re the favourites but I’m not fully convinced they even get this far. Everyone knows about their wealth of talent but you wonder if it all comes together. The group and potential path is also tough and doesn’t offer much opportunity to rotate, which might take its toll.
LO: Belgium. I think they have what it takes to go all the way to the final and lose 3-0 to France.
Who will win the Golden Boot?
MD: Romelu Lukaku.
MC: Memphis Depay. The sensible picks are Kane, Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo but honestly who cares about being right. Holland’s group is kind, Depay scored plenty in Ligue 1 this year and even if a lot of them were penalties, he’s on spot-kick duties for his country, too.
VE: Kylian Mbappe.
BB: Romelu Lukaku.
LO: Cristiano Ronaldo. He has the service with Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva, he has the licence to dedicate his efforts solely to scoring goals, and he has the hunger to prove he is still Europe’s best forward.
AP: Kylian Mbappe.
KM: Romelu ukaku, or Jorginho with five penalties.
Who will be the breakout player?
MD: Pedri (Spain), if a Barcelona player can be a breakout. This will be when he goes up a level.
MC: Nicolo Barella (Italy). The all-round midfielder probably does not have the reputation he deserves because of Inter Milan’s failure to properly crack the Champions League in recent years but that should change this summer.
VE: Federico Chiesa (Italy).
BB: Nuno Mendes (Portugal). The left-back is excellent going forward and should help the defending champions go deep.
LO: Ferran Torres (Spain). Not exactly an unknown quantity but he has been on the fringes for Manchester City and this is his first major tournament. The 21-year-old scored a hat-trick against Germany not so long ago and has all the attributes to be Spain’s leading light this summer.
AP: Florian Neuhaus (Germany), if die Mannschaft go far enough for the Monchengladbach midfielder to show his talents.
KM: Manuel Locatelli (Italy). Destined to soon be pulling the strings at the heart of one of Europe’s top clubs and the Sassuolo star will show why when he gets his chance at Euro 2020, given the absences of Lorenzo Pellegrini and, in the short term, Marco Verratti.
How far will England go?
MD: It does feel like this is playing into a real either-or: a last-16 exit or a good run. I will lean towards the latter, for now.
MC: Assuming they win the group – which is far from – a lot depends on that last-16 game against the runner-up of Group F, likely to be one of France, Germany or Portugal. They could beat all three but it’s a coin toss for each of them. It either ends there or in the semi-finals.
VE: I want to say semi-finals, but I can see round-off-16 dismay far too easily.
BB: The team itself is good enough to go deep into the knockout stages but the draw does them no favours. Depending on how the group pans out, last-16 heartbreak could beckon at the hands of Germany or Portugal.
LO: Semi-finals, on the logic that England are about the fourth best team in the tournament. Phil Foden to be England’s star.
AP: An underwhelming last-16 defeat is in England’s all-too-near future, more because of the difficulty of the draw than any lack of quality in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
KM: Last 16. For all the quality available, there’s still not much evidence to suggest they can beat the biggest and best.
What will we learn?
MD: Footballers need more of a break.
MC: That even though he’s been playing in a different league for the past few years, England fans, pundits and everyone else should be just as excited about Jadon Sancho as they are about Foden and Jack Grealish.
VE: VAR works better in tournament football.
BB: It’s not coming home after all.
LO: That substitutes mattered this summer more than any tournament before. The increase to five subs means deploying quality from the bench will often decide the tightest matches, especially so after a physically intense season for most players.
AP: Luck is more important than talent at a major tournament – which is a shame, as England finally have the talent.
KM: The same as every tournament: There’s a whole world of exciting talent out there to watch, beyond the shores of the Premier League.