Trent Alexander-Arnold's participation in Euro 2020 appears to be in huge doubt after the England full-back sustained an apparent muscular injury against Austria.

England won 1-0 on Wednesday thanks to Bukayo Saka's first international goal, but a late injury for Alexander-Arnold may have spoiled the night.

Alexander-Arnold was left out of a previous England squad in March, but has made the 26-man cut for Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate taking four right-backs.

Two of those right-backs – Kyle Walker and Reece James – were unavailable in Middlesbrough following their Champions League final exploits, so the Liverpool star got the nod.

However, in the closing stages, Alexander-Arnold pulled up after making a clearance with his left foot, and appeared to be clutching his thigh as he limped off the pitch, with England's medical staff then having to help him walk around the sidelines to the tunnel.

With England kicking-off their campaign against Croatia on June 13, Alexander-Arnold's prospects do not look good, but Southgate, who also has concerns over the fitness of Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire, will wait for a full diagnosis before making a decision on whether to replace the 22-year-old.

"We're going to have a look. It's obviously not good to see him come off in the way he did. We'll just have to assess him over the next 24 hours," he told ITV Sport.

"I think thigh, but the medical team are still assessing it really. We just have to see, it's not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did, but we'll know more in the next 24, 48 hours.

"Let's see how Trent is, and we'll go from there. We don't know the full extent, so the last thing you want is to have to see him come off in the way he did."

Another player to provide something of a scare to England fans might have been Jack Grealish. 

The Aston Villa talisman missed a large chunk of the Premier League run-in due to an injury, but played over an hour before being replaced by debutant Ben White.

Grealish was seen with an ice pack on his right shin as he watched on from the stands, but the 25-year-old insisted he is fit.

"I've had an injury recently so to get 70 minutes under my belt, I'm glad," he explained to ITV Sport.

"It's not shin splints, actually, it's different to that, it's like a bit of stress on my shin, a different type of injury.

"I'm not concerned, I'm still aware of it, need to keep on top of it, do whatever I can to heal it after playing in these games, so that's why the ice was on."

Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a late injury as England stepped up Euro 2020 preparations with a 1-0 win over Austria that was secured by Bukayo Saka's first senior international goal.

Manager Gareth Southgate was shorn of the Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United players likely to be key at the upcoming tournament, and he fielded a relatively inexperienced team for Wednesday's friendly in Middlesbrough.

It was one of the youngsters to have made the final 26-man squad who proved decisive, Arsenal winger Saka tucking into an empty net early in the second half to mark his fifth Three Lions appearance with a maiden goal.

Yet the biggest moment came late on, when Alexander-Arnold – whose inclusion in the squad has been a hot topic – suffered an apparent muscular injury in inconspicuous circumstances, which will surely cast doubt over his availability for the tournament.

England fast bowler Ollie Robinson issued an apology after historic messages of a racist and sexist nature posted on his Twitter account emerged on the day of his Test debut.

Robinson took 2-50 on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand, who reached stumps on 246-3 at Lord's.

However, while the Sussex seamer was in action on the field, comments he made in 2012 and 2013 – when he was aged 18 and 19 – emerged on social media.

In a statement published by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at the close of play, Robinson admitted to being "embarrassed" and "ashamed" at the social media posts.

"On the biggest day of my career so far, I am embarrassed by the racist and sexist tweets that I posted over eight years ago, which have today become public," he said.

"I want to make it clear that I'm not racist and I'm not sexist. I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks. 

"I was thoughtless and irresponsible, and regardless of my state of mind at the time, my actions were inexcusable. Since that period, I have matured as a person and fully regret the tweets.

"Today should be about my efforts on the field and the pride of making my Test debut for England, but my thoughtless behaviour in the past has tarnished this.

"Over the past few years, I have worked hard to turn my life around. I have considerably matured as an adult. 

"The work and education I have gained personally from the PCA (Professional Cricketers' Association), my county Sussex and the England cricket team have helped me to come to terms and gain a deep understanding of being a responsible professional cricketer.

"I would like to unreservedly apologise to anyone I have offended, my team-mates and the game as a whole in what has been a day of action and awareness in combatting discrimination from our sport. 

"I don't want something that happened eight years ago to diminish the efforts of my team-mates and the ECB as they continue to build meaningful action with their comprehensive initiatives and efforts, which I fully endorse and support.

"I will continue to educate myself, look for advice and work with the support network that is available to me to learn more about getting better in this area. I am sorry, and I have certainly learned my lesson today."

The discovery of the comments came after England's players wore anti-discrimination T-shirts carrying messages regarding racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and ageism ahead of play starting on Wednesday.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison strongly condemned the posts and confirmed a full investigation will be launched as part of the governing body's disciplinary process.

"I do not have the words to express how disappointed I am that an England men's player has chosen to write tweets of this nature, however long ago that might have been," Harrison said in a statement.

"Any person reading those words, particularly a woman or person of colour, would take away an image of cricket and cricketers that is completely unacceptable. We are better than this. 

"We have a zero-tolerance stance to any form of discrimination and there are rules in place that handle conduct of this nature. We will initiate a full investigation as part of our disciplinary process. 

"Our England men's team, alongside others from the ECB and our partners across the game, worked together today to create a moment of unity. 

"Using today's spotlight to reaffirm our commitment to driving forward an anti-discrimination agenda. 

"Our commitment to that effort remains unwavering, and the emergence of these comments from Ollie's past reiterates the need for ongoing education and engagement on this issue."

Robinson dismissed Tom Latham and Ross Taylor but New Zealand debutant Devon Conway scored an unbeaten century to leave the tourists in control. 

Devon Conway registered a century on his Test debut as New Zealand enjoyed a productive opening day with the bat in their series with England.

Opener Conway finished up on 136 not out to help the Black Caps close on 246-3 at Lord's in the first of two matches between the nations.

Ollie Robinson also made an impact on debut for England, the Sussex seamer taking 2-50, but it was tough work for the four members of an all-pace attack, with captain Joe Root contributing 12 overs of spin.

Ross Taylor's departure for 14 during the afternoon saw New Zealand sit at 114-3 after winning the toss and opting to bat, but Henry Nicholls combined with Conway to share an unbroken stand worth 132 as England faded.

As he matched former captain Alastair Cook's England record of 161 Test appearances, James Anderson once again dismissed Kane Williamson in the format, the New Zealand captain seeing a defensive push only end up sending the ball back onto his stumps to depart for 13.

Tom Latham also perished via an inside edge, the opener the only wicket to fall in the first session when bowled by Robinson for 23.

However, Conway dazzled in the London sunshine, becoming the 12th New Zealander to mark their maiden Test outing with a century.

The 29-year-old was born in South Africa but cleared to play for New Zealand in August 2020. He had already impressed in white-ball cricket at the highest level prior to his opportunity in the longest format.

His milestone moment arrived in the final session courtesy of a flamboyant flick off his pads through the leg side, one of 16 boundaries the left-hander struck in a composed innings that has so far spanned 240 deliveries.

Nicholls was 46 not out at stumps, happy to play second fiddle to his new team-mate as the Black Caps built the foundations for a big first-innings score.

From fast starts to playing the long game 

Conway - the 281st player to represent New Zealand in Test cricket – had already featured in three one-dayers and 14 Twenty20 games in his international career. Indeed, his T20 batting average (59.1) is the highest of any of the 528 players to make at least 10 appearances. 

His first Test chance saw him set a record too, as he moved beyond Williamson's 131 against India in November 2010 to post the highest score by a Black Caps debutant made outside of New Zealand. 

Anderson able to get Kane once again 

As a busy home schedule that includes a five-match series against India got off to a tough start, Anderson provided a rare moment of success for England by getting rid of Williamson straight after lunch. 

He has now dismissed the right-hander seven times in Tests, the most by any bowler. Indeed, no other New Zealand batsman has fallen to Anderson on more occasions in the format.

With just nine days to go until the start of Euro 2020, preparations are hotting up.

There are systems to train, friendlies to navigate and injuries to heal – hopefully – for the 24 teams involved before the delayed competition begins on June 11.

That year-long wait for the finals has helped some, with certain players able to recover form and fitness after looking likely to miss out entirely had the tournament gone ahead last year.

However, there are others for whom the rescheduling has come as a bit of a blow.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform examines some of the major contenders for the trophy and why the postponement could prove a particular problem...

 

Belgium

Roberto Martinez has been left with a major headache around three of his biggest names.

Eden Hazard may have hoped the extra year would help him recover peak form with Real Madrid but, if anything, matters have become worse.

He was limited to just 21 Madrid appearances in 2020-21, scoring four goals and providing two assists from a mere nine chances created, as fitness problems and fan frustrations persisted.

There are also worries now around Kevin De Bruyne, whose magnificent season for Manchester City ended with broken facial bones in a losing Champions League final, while Axel Witsel has not played since January 9 due to an Achilles injury.

 

Croatia

Ivan Rakitic caused a shock last September when he announced his retirement from international football, having been all set to play at the Euros had they gone ahead as planned.

While the 2018 World Cup finalists still have Luka Modric at the heart of their midfield, the Real Madrid man will be 36 this year and has come off a hectic season in which he played 48 games.

Another veteran, Ivan Perisic, last played a full match for Inter in February and Mateo Kovacic missed seven of Chelsea's final nine games of the season through injury.

England

England have some concern around Raheem Sterling, who has scored one league goal since February and fell out of favour at Manchester City. There are also problems with Marcus Rashford, who has been managing an ankle issue for several weeks and only has four league goals to his name since the turn of the year.

In midfield, Jordan Henderson has not played since undergoing groin surgery in February, Jack Grealish missed three months of action for Aston Villa and Harry Maguire's ankle ligament damage has left him battling to be fit enough for the start of the group stage.

And what of Trent Alexander-Arnold? The Liverpool right-back, sensational in 2019-20, was left out of the World Cup qualifiers in March after an inconsistent season and is hardly guaranteed a starting spot under Gareth Southgate.

 

Netherlands

The Netherlands will have to make do without Virgil van Dijk. The Liverpool star was integral to the Oranje's run to the inaugural Nations League Finals and seemed destined to head into the tournament as Europe's best centre-back. As it is, he will watch from afar, having failed to recover from the knee injury he sustained in October.

Frank de Boer became the first Netherlands head coach to fail to win any of his first four fixtures, and though he managed to correct that dismal form, his record since leaving Ajax does not exactly bode well heading into a major tournament.

There is also the issue of Donny van de Beek, who has started just four Premier League games for Manchester United and finished his first season with the Red Devils as an unused substitute as they lost on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League final.

Spain

Ansu Fati is the big new hope for Barcelona and Spain, but injury ended the winger's season prematurely and he has not recovered in time to make Luis Enrique's 24-man squad – a selection that does not feature Sergio Ramos or any of his Real Madrid team-mates.

Ramos has only played only once – in a Champions League defeat to Chelsea – since March, and it was felt he needed time to recover away from the international stage.

It also seemed as though Adama Traore would prove a valuable impact player in the Spain attack, but the Wolves forward managed only two goals and two assists in 37 Premier League games in 2020-21.

Harry Maguire is facing a race against time to be fit enough to play in England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on June 13, according to Gareth Southgate.

Manchester United captain Maguire suffered an ankle injury last month which saw him miss the end of the season, including the Red Devils' Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

Southgate has nevertheless picked the centre-back in his 26-man squad for the Euros, which was confirmed on Tuesday.

However, the England manager admitted to being unsure if the 28-year-old would be able to play against Croatia.

"We don't know that yet. It's going to be tight for the first game [v Croatia], there's no question," he said when pressed on Maguire's availability.

"I think he's such a good player and we had the additional size of squad, the fact that that leadership which is growing in him all the time, we wanted to take that opportunity to bring him into the squad."

Another player recuperating from a lay off is Jordan Henderson, who has not featured since going off injured for Liverpool during the Merseyside derby in February.

However, Southgate revealed Henderson will play a part in the friendly against Austria on Wednesday.

"Jordan has trained with the team all week so that’s been good. We've had to modify him through certain parts of the session. He’ll be involved in the game tomorrow," Southgate said of the Liverpool captain. 

"His progress is good but we're realistic about what that might look like."

Jack Grealish is also coming back from injury, though he did play for Aston Villa in May, while Marcus Rashford is another concern.

"Jack has trained with the team, but not every day so we've got to manage his load," added Southgate, who will also be without Jadon Sancho, who is ill, for the Austria match.

"Again, we want to get the players to the best possible point but we don't want to break them in the process. Marcus, we haven't seen him on the grass but he assures me he's happy with where he’s at. We go from there with that one."

Gareth Southgate joked he would select more right-backs in England's Euro 2020 squad if he could, after four players who fill the role were picked in his 26-man pool.

Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Reece James and – despite several media reports to the contrary – Trent Alexander-Arnold were selected in England's squad for the tournament, which starts on June 11.

Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold missed out on the March internationals and reports suggested he would be the biggest name to be cut from England's provisional squad.

Asked to explain his decision, Southgate told a news conference: "We went through this last week, yes we have four players who play sometimes at right-back for their clubs, Kieran, Reece have been playing wing-back or right of a three, Trent plays at right-back, Kyle Walker has played in the right of a three for us.

"Basically they're in our best 26 footballers and if I could have picked a fifth or a sixth right-back, I probably would have done!"

Alexander-Arnold has won acclaim for his attacking qualities, and Southgate last week said he felt the 22-year-old, who has 12 caps, could be versatile enough to play in midfield.

Pressed on that suggestion in Tuesday's media conference, Southgate said: "We're here to play nine games and we already have some injury doubts, I'm sure we're going to face other difficulties in the next four or five weeks.

"We need adaptability, good professionals, tactically savvy players – we're fortunate we've got old and young players who fit all of those categories."

There can be little doubt over his proficiency going forward, though there has been debate over Alexander-Arnold's defensive abilities.

In the Premier League, he made three errors leading to shots and one that led to a goal in the season just ended, whereas James and Walker made no such mistakes.

Trippier, who helped Atletico Madrid win LaLiga, made just one error that led to a shot. Alexander-Arnold's tackle success rate (58.9 per cent) was below that of each of his rivals for the England role (Walker 65.5 per cent; Trippier 63.9; James 63.6), and he was part of a Liverpool team that conceded a goal on average once every 76 minutes when he featured.

Trippier, a key part of Atleti's tight-knit defence, could point to the new Spanish champions conceding only once per 191 minutes when he was on the pitch.

In Alexander-Arnold's defence, he played far more minutes in league games than each of his rivals (3,033 - next most is Trippier with 2,477), and Liverpool's backline frailties were to a large extent affected by the injuries that kept Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip out for much of the season.

Should Alexander-Arnold indeed be utilised as an alternative midfield option, it may go some way to support Southgate's reasoning for leaving out Jesse Lingard.

Out of favour at Manchester United, the midfielder enjoyed a brilliant loan spell at West Ham, scoring nine goals in 16 league appearances as David Moyes' team secured European football for next season.

"Jesse's done incredibly well to get back in the race. Back in January he was a million miles away from being selected for an England squad," Southgate said.

"He had a good spell with West Ham, he's been a player who's played so well for us with England, we've got total trust in the way he plays, he's reliable, a great member of the group.

"He will play tomorrow [in the friendly against Austria] because we've got [Jadon] Sancho ill and we've got a lot of players not available and for the balance of the team he'll start, so he deserves that opportunity to go and show me that I'm wrong, straight away!"

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".

Lingard had a highly productive second half of the season on loan at West Ham, but it was not enough to persuade the Three Lions boss.

Southgate said that decision proved "very difficult".

The players who were excluded will remain with the squad over the coming days and could feature in friendlies against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, both of which will be played at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said Lingard was likely to start the game against Austria.

The inclusion of defender Harry Maguire follows concern over the Manchester United player's ankle injury, which ruled him out of the Europa League final.

Southgate said he had "a lot more clarity" over who would be available for his squad after United's clash with Villarreal and the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Of those who missed out on his tournament selection, he said: "I know what a disappointment that is for them, not to be going to a major championship.

"With Jordan [Henderson] and Harry Maguire we have a couple of players who are not where they'd be ideally in terms of their physical prep. But we feel the experience they have, the fact we think we can get them to a point where they can have an involvement in the tournament, it's worth taking them, especially as we've got an extended squad of 26."
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Stuart Broad will be England's vice-captain for the Test series against New Zealand.

Joe Root confirmed on the eve of England's first game of the summer at Lord's that paceman Broad will be his deputy.

Broad steps in with Ben Stokes still recovering from a fractured finger and Jos Buttler rested after completing a quarantine period following the cancellation of the Indian Premier League.

England face the Black Caps at Edgbaston after starting the two-match series at Lord's this week.

Broad revealed he considered retiring after he was left "frustrated, angry and gutted" over his omission from the side for the first Test against West Indies in July before responding with some outstanding performances.

James Anderson will match Alastair Cook's record of 161 Test appearances if he is named in the team to face on Kane Williamson's side in London on Wednesday.

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from England's provisional squad for Euro 2020 due to injury.

United on Tuesday revealed that Greenwood would not be in Gareth Southgate's party for the upcoming tournament due to an underlying problem that also kept him out of the Under-21 European Championship in March.

The announcement came on the day that Southgate will cut his squad from 33 to 26 players.

United stated on their official website: "Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from the provisional England Euro 2020 squad, in order to recover fully from an underlying injury that also kept him out of the Under-21 European Championship in March.

"Mason's club appearances were managed carefully to maintain his availability through the intensive 2020/21 Premier League and Europa League schedules.

"But a further spell of tournament football would not be beneficial and Mason will remain at Manchester United to recuperate and prepare for pre-season training."

A hectic, congested year of football culminates in the delayed European Championship, which starts on June 11 when Turkey take on Italy in Rome.

Euro 2020, hosted in 11 cities spread across the continent, was meant to be a celebration of the 60th anniversary of UEFA's international tournament. Instead, the coronavirus pandemic derailed the plans, forcing the postponement of the event until 2021.

Though the qualified teams had been readying themselves to play last year, and the pandemic has forced a much-altered football calendar in 2020-21, some countries may have benefitted from the delay.

For others, it may be a case of what might have been. Here, using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at how the main favourites to go all the way have been boosted by the postponement. 

Belgium

Romelu Lukaku – Belgium's record scorer – has built on a brilliant debut season with Inter, going on to help the Nerazzurri claim the Scudetto, with the 28-year-old netting 24 times in Serie A (a tally bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo), at an average of one goal per 120 minutes, and providing 11 assists in the process.

Another player who has gone from strength to strength in 2020-21 has been Youri Tielemans, who lashed in an exceptional strike to win Leicester City's first FA Cup. The midfielder racked up 4,438 minutes of playing time, the sixth-highest total in Europe's top five leagues, so Roberto Martinez – whose future is uncertain – may have to manage him carefully.

England

Gareth Southgate named a 33-man provisional squad, and while the England boss does have doubts over the fitness of some key stars, he cannot complain at the wealth of talent at his disposal, with several players having come to the fore in the last year.

John Stones is back to his best, and right-backs Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier have won titles in England and Spain respectively. Ahead of them, Jude Bellingham – who could become the youngest Three Lions player to appear at the Euros – had an outstanding season with Borussia Dortmund, though it is in attack where Southgate really is spoilt for choice.

Harry Kane won the Premier League golden boot and topped the assist charts, while back-up Dominic Calvert-Lewin registered a top-flight goal every 179.63 minutes. Behind them, Phil Foden and Mason Mount are talismanic figures Champions League finalists City and Chelsea, while Jack Grealish created 81 chances – the third highest in the division – for Aston Villa, despite missing 12 games through injury. 

 

France

England's options somewhat pale in comparison to the depth Didier Deschamps has to play with. Eduardo Camavinga looked set to be one of the youngsters to break onto the scene for Les Bleus, but the Rennes teenager has not even made the squad for the rearranged tournament, while Anthony Martial is another big name to miss out.

Kylian Mbappe reached last season's Champions League final and has gone on to score 42 goals in 47 appearances across all competitions this term, averaging a strike every 89 minutes, while Antoine Griezmann is looking sharp.

As if it was not enough, Deschamps has also recalled Karim Benzema, who scored 30 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid to earn his first call up in over five years. In midfield, N'Golo Kante has been spectacular for Champions League winners Chelsea, with only six Premier League midfielders who have attempted over 75 tackles recording a higher success rate than his 53.16.

Germany

Joachim Low has decided to call it quits after the tournament, with Hansi Flick incoming. But surely that will only spur Germany on as they look to end Low's tenure on a high, and he has recalled 2014 World Cup winners Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels to help the cause.

With Timo Werner having struggled to convert chances into goals for Chelsea – scoring 12 times in 52 appearances and registering a shot conversion rate of just 7.59 in the Premier League – Muller, who created the most chances (93) and provided the most assists (18) in the Bundesliga – will share the burden, while Jamal Musiala, Bayern Munich's youngest Champions League goalscorer, is surely one of the youngsters to watch.

 

Italy

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy were in need of a rebuild, and Roberto Mancini has provided the steady hand required.

Mancini is unbeaten in all 26 games of his Italy tenure, as he closes in on the all-time record of 30 set by Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930, and the Azzurri look well placed to challenge. One question mark could be over goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who seems destined for a move to Juventus.

Netherlands

Perhaps no team has undergone more change in the past year than the Netherlands. Ronald Koeman looked set to have a strong side heading into Euro 2020, albeit injuries would have shorn him of Memphis Depay and Donyell Malen.

As luck would have it, both of those attackers will be fit for the Oranje, and come in off the back of strong seasons with Lyon and PSV respectively. But it will not be Koeman who is in charge – he is of course now at the helm at Barcelona, though whether his tenure continues for much longer remains to be seen – with Frank de Boer his replacement.

Portugal

More records tumbled in 2020-21 for Ronaldo, though there is no doubt the 36-year-old's powers are waning slightly with age.

Portugal are, of course, the holders, having seen off France in 2016, but Fernando Santos' squad is arguably much stronger than it was five years ago, with Andre Silva – who finished behind only Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga scoring charts this season – providing a focal point up top, while Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota and Joao Felix have continued their trajectories of improvement in the last year.

But it is Ruben Dias' form over the last season that may benefit Portugal the most. The centre-back has been imperious for Man City, playing a crucial role in a defence that has conceded just 42 goals in all competitions.

Spain

With Sergio Ramos not judged to be fit, Luis Enrique has picked a relatively inexperienced – at least at international level – defence, with only 24 players named in his squad.

Pau Torres is certainly a player who has improved over the past 12 months. He has just helped Villarreal to a Europa League triumph, with the centre-back, who is sure to be interesting some of Europe's biggest clubs, being the defender with the most games played in the competition without being dribbled past (nine). Spain have also been buoyed by Aymeric Laporte's switch of allegiance from France.

Thiago Alcantara has not always hit his best form at Liverpool, though Spain's midfield is boosted by two title winners in Atletico Madrid duo Koke and Marcos Llorente, who was involved in 23 goals in 2020-21.

Up top, Gerard Moreno netted 30 goals in all competitions for Villarreal – among LaLiga players, only Lionel Messi played a part in more goals.

It has been a long time coming but Euro 2020 finally gets under way on June 11.

A year later than scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, 24 teams will contest a tournament that will be staged in 11 cities.

Italy and Turkey do battle in the first match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, with the final staged at Wembley exactly a month later.

Holders Portugal face strong competition for their crown from the likes of world champions France, Belgium, England and Germany.

Stats Perform picks out some of the standout fixtures from the six groups in a European Championship that promises to be well worth the wait. 

 

Sunday June 13 - England v Croatia: Group D, Wembley (15:00 - all kick-offs shown are Central European Time)

Croatia came from behind to reach their first World Cup final with a 2-1 victory over England after extra time in Moscow three years ago.

Mario Mandzukic's goal proved to be decisive and England will be out for revenge in the first Group D contest.

The two nations have only met once at a European Championship and it was England who came out on top, Wayne Rooney scoring twice in a 4-2 group victory in Lisbon back in 2004. 

England have never won their first match at the Euros, while Croatia have not lost any of their last three opening fixtures in the tournament.

 

Tuesday June 15 - France v Germany: Group F, Allianz Arena (21:00)

Germany and France will meet for the first time in the group stage of either a European Championship or World Cup in Munich.

Joachim Low, who will end his reign as Germany head coach after the tournament, has suffered four defeats at the hands of France during his tenure, winning two and also drawing twice. 

Antoine Griezmann scored both goals in a 2-0 semi-final victory for Les Bleus over Germany in the 2016 Euros.

The world champions are unbeaten in five games against Germany (W3 D2), with the last win for Low's side coming when Mats Hummels scored the only goal in a 2014 World Cup quarter-final in Rio de Janeiro.

 

Friday June 18 - England v Scotland: Group D, Wembley (21:00)

England and Scotland will come to a standstill when the fierce rivals do battle in their second group game.

Scotland face Czech Republic before a highly-charged clash with their neighbours from south of the border 25 years after they met at Wembley in a dramatic Euro 96 group match.

Paul Gascoigne scored a stunning solo goal in a 2-0 victory for Terry Venables' side on that occasion, England's mercurial midfielder leaving Scotland shattered soon after Gary McAllister's penalty was saved by David Seaman.

England are unbeaten in the past four games against their fellow Brits, but needed a stoppage-time goal from Harry Kane to salvage a 2-2 draw the last time they met at Hampden Park in a World Cup qualifier four years ago.

 

Saturday June 19 - Portugal v Germany: Group F, Allianz Arena (18:00)

Germany will have home advantage in all three of their group games and they may have to be at their very best to beat Portugal in Munich.

Cristiano Ronaldo will get yet another opportunity to show he is the man for the big occasion. The Portugal captain has scored nine goals in 21 European Championship games, also providing five assists in the tournament.

History does not bode well for the defending champions, though, as Germany have beaten them four times in a row since Sergio Conceicao scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win at Euro 2000.

Portugal may be haunted by the return of Thomas Muller, who helped himself to a treble when they last met in a 4-0 rout for Low's side at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

 

Wednesday June 23 - Portugal v France: Group F, Puskas Arena (21:00)

It will come as no surprise that the final match to catch the eye in the group stage is what could be a crucial tussle in Budapest.

While Germany face Hungary in Munich, France and Portugal will lock horns on the last day of group games.

Les Bleus had won all three competitive games against Portugal before they suffered the agony of a defeat in the 2016 European Championship final, which was settled by substitute Eder in extra time.

France have won 18 out of 25 meetings between the two nations, with N'Golo Kante scoring in a 1-0 victory in their last encounter in the Nations League just over six months ago.

Jofra Archer is focused on being fully fit for the T20 World Cup and England's Ashes tour to Australia later this year as he looks to finally get his troublesome elbow injury sorted.

Pace bowler Archer underwent surgery last week and, as per a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board released on Wednesday, is to undergo an intensive rehabilitation period before being assessed again in around a month.

The 26-year-old's absence is a blow to England ahead of a busy home schedule in all formats, with New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India all visiting for tours in the upcoming months.

However, Archer will only make his comeback once completely healthy, a decision made with his long-term future in mind as he prepares to be patient.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place in October and November this year, with England then travelling Down Under the following month for the five-Test Ashes series.

"One thing I am determined about post-elbow operation is not to rush my comeback because my primary focus is to be playing for England in the T20 World Cup and Ashes later this year," Archer wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

"Those are my targets. If I come back before then and manage to play in the home Test series against India – then fine, so be it. If I don't, I am quite prepared to sit out the summer.

"The way I am looking at things is that I would rather miss a few weeks of a year so that I have a few more years in my career.

"I just want to get this injury sorted once and for all and that's why I'm not looking that far ahead or at dates for a return to action — because if I don't get this right, I won't play any cricket. Period.

"I am not going to do myself any good by coming back before I'm fully fit, so I will take my time and do what is best for me and my life."

Archer, who had an operation on a hand injury earlier this year, attempted to make a return to action in domestic cricket for Sussex recently, only to suffer a further setback with his elbow during the County Championship fixture at Hove.

He has taken 42 wickets at an average of 31.04 in 13 Test appearances for Joe Root's side, while he is a key member of England's white-ball squads under captain Eoin Morgan.

England have Tests against New Zealand at Lord's and Edgbaston in June, with a five-match series in the long format against India beginning at Trent Bridge on August 4.

Several players who appeared in the Indian Premier League will not be involved against the Black Caps, while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes joined Archer and Ben Stokes on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury when slipping in the Surrey dressing room on Sunday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.