Sport Soccer-Belgium veterans tip England and France for Euro 2020 success

00:30  11 june  2021
00:30  11 june  2021 Source:   reuters.com

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Jan Vertonghen and Dries Mertens, two of Belgium’s most experienced players, said their top-ranked team is not among the favourites for Euro 2020.

a close up of Jan Vertonghen: Euro 2020 - Belgium Press Conference © Reuters/JOHANNA GERON Euro 2020 - Belgium Press Conference

Vertonghen, who is Belgium’s record caps holder with 127, and Mertens, who has made 98 appearances for the country, both named France and England as their top tips for the tournament, which kicks off on Friday.

a close up of Dries Mertens: Euro 2020 - Belgium Press Conference © Reuters/JOHANNA GERON Euro 2020 - Belgium Press Conference

"I don't see us as the big favourites, but we are not far from it," Vertonghen told a news conference on Thursday. “The top favourites for me are France and England.

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“But I do know that we can beat any country. We have beaten England a few times in recent years and we can do the same with France.

“I don’t think any country wants to play against us. That first place in the world rankings shows that we are at our peak but we are not the big favourite,” insisted the 34-year-old centre back.

Video: Euro 2020 – Will football finally come home? (The Independent)

Mertens was later asked who he tipped. “I see world champions France as a top favourite,” he said.

“England and Italy are just below that and we are also there,” he told reporters.

Mertens also disagreed with the assertion that Belgium had a stronger squad for the Euros than at the 2018 World Cup where they finished third.

“I don’t know that can be better than 2018 as we are without Marouane (Fellaini), Moussa (Dembele) and (Vincent) Kompany. I’d rather we had the three of them with us still in our team.”

The disappointment of not winning the World Cup in Russia had made the camp hungry for success three years on, he added.

Belgium kick off their Group B campaign in St Petersburg on Saturday against Russia before matches against Denmark and Finland.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)

Euro 2020 Group A: Wales are in vicious group - Italy and Turkey can usurp Switzerland .
There would have been grimaces in Wales when they were pitted alongside Italy, Turkey and Switzerland in a super-competitive Group A. © Xerdan Shaqiri is still Switzerland's main man in attack. The Welsh made the semi-finals five years ago as a Gareth Bale-inspired Red Wall cheered their heroes to a journey of a life-time. While Bale, and key midfielder Aaron Ramsey, are still there, the landscape is very different for The Dragons.Their build-up to the tournament has been shrouded by a court case involving manager Ryan Giggs, who will not be in situ this summer.

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