Jose Mourinho does not think Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw should be in England's starting XI to begin Euro 2020.

The former United boss has been involved in media controversies around both players in the past.

Mourinho feels Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is a better option than Shaw at left-back for England, who open their campaign against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday in a World Cup semi-final rematch.

That is despite Shaw having a fantastic season for United, which saw him recently named the Players' Player of the Year at the club.

"I wouldn't think twice, I'd go with Chilwell," Mourinho told talkSPORT.

"I know that he plays normally with Chelsea in a five, but he is intelligent, he covers the space and the diagonals inside very well, he's dangerous in attack, he's good in the air and good on set pieces.

"He can defend well the possible long build up from Croatia on the first phase. He is very calm under pressure. I like Chilwell a lot.

"[Shaw] had a good season and clearly an evolution in terms of emotion, professionalism. But Chilwell has something more, especially with the ball, the way he thinks." 

The new Roma boss also feels Rashford's only positional option is to play on the left of attack, where he would prefer to line up with Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Mourinho believes Grealish is an "untouchable" selection and compared his play to that of Real Madrid great Luis Figo.

United target Jadon Sancho was not in Mourinho's team, which does include Manchester City star Phil Foden and Harry Kane, who thrived under his management at Tottenham.

Rashford scored against Romania in the 1-0 friendly win last week but Mourinho said: "Harry Kane is untouchable, Jack Grealish is untouchable and the best position for Grealish is coming in from the left.

"For me, Marcus Rashford can only play there. When he plays on the right, he is completely lost.

"He is dynamic but on the right totally broken. He is very good on the left attacking spaces. But Grealish, for me, is tremendous.

"What he creates and his personality – 'give me the ball' – he reminds me a little bit of Luis Figo.

"I don't like making comparisons, especially with a Golden Ball winner, but Grealish reminds me of my Figo.

"Figo, I had him in different periods in my career but I had him in his last season as a player at Inter Milan and even in his last season he was like, 'Give me the ball and I will resolve the problems for you'.

"The way Grealish gets the ball and attacks people, gets fouls, gets penalties, he is very powerful, I like him very much.

"So I would say Grealish on the left, Mason Mount as the number 10 and because I like the wingers to come inside, I would play Phil Foden on the right."

One United player who would be in Mourinho's starting team, though, is goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who he would start over Jordan Pickford.

"I am a Henderson fan," said Mourinho. "When I was at United he was a kid, and I tell this story because it shows his nature.

"He came to my office asking for a loan, he went to Shrewsbury, but this kid said to me then, 'When I come back, I want to be number one'.

"We looked at each other because we had [David] de Gea and this kid never played one game, but he has had incredible development.

"The loans were all very successful. The way United organised them I think United did amazing for him and he did amazing for himself.

"He has this arrogance in him, this trust and belief which I think an England goalkeeper needs."

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were Mourinho's two central midfielders.

Mourinho, though, would like to see Jude Bellingham play alongside Rice as the tournament progresses, describing the Borussia Dortmund prospect as "perfect" for such a role.

Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings and John Stones made up the rest of his back four alongisde Chilwell.

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

Gareth Bale accepts there will inevitably be pressure on Wales to perform when they get their Euro 2020 campaign underway against Switzerland.

Wales were beaten 2-0 by eventual winners Portugal after a stirring campaign in 2016 in which they came top of their group and defeated Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-finals. Indeed, they were the first tournament debutants to reach the semi-finals since Sweden in 1992.

Bale is one of eight survivors from that squad to make Robert Page's selection, who begin a challenging Group A against Switzerland in Baku before facing Turkey and Italy.

Wales reached the quarter-finals in each of their previous two major tournaments, the other being the 1958 World Cup, but hopes are not quite as high for a side who averaged only 1.25 goals per game in qualifying, the joint-lowest among the 24 finalists alongside North Macedonia.

They are also facing a Switzerland side who reached the last 16 of the previous Euros and the 2018 World Cup, and who are on a five-game unbeaten run at this tournament (they were knocked out last time by Poland on penalties).

Still, Bale – Wales' all-time top scorer with 33 goals, who finished the Premier League season with a competition-high rate of a goal every 84 minutes – does not appear overburdened by any extra pressure to perform.

"It's similar [to Euro 2016] coming into the tournament," he said. "On the back of 2016 there should be expectations, but it's a different team and a different tournament.

"We know it's a difficult group to get out of. They are all difficult teams to play against, but we've got to take one game at a time.

"We are very excited to be here and one day away. I feel fine and ready to give 100 per cent for my country, as I always do."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales – Dan James

Bale and Aaron Ramsey remain the star names for Wales, just as they were five years ago in that famous run to the final four, but Manchester United winger James offers a little more of the unknown at this level. While he only started 11 Premier League games last season, the 23-year-old created three chances and provided a fine assist for Anthony Elanga against Wolves on the final day, all from the wide-left position he tends to adopt for his country.

James also scored Wales' most recent goal, securing a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in World Cup qualifying in March.

Switzerland – Xherdan Shaqiri

Unhappy with his playing time at Liverpool, the Euros represent a good chance for Shaqiri either to convince Jurgen Klopp of his worth or to secure a transfer elsewhere.

With five goals and two assists, Shaqiri has been directly involved in 47 per cent of Switzerland's goals at major tournaments since the 2014 World Cup and is just nine caps short of becoming the fifth player to win 100 for the Nati. Born in Gjilan to Kosovar Albanian parents, the 29-year-old is the beating heart of a polyglot squad of great ethnic diversity, and one then befits a tournament being staged right across the continent.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the first meeting between Wales and Switzerland at a major tournament (World Cup and European Championship). In all competitions including friendlies, Switzerland have won five of their seven encounters (L2) but their last meeting in October 2011 ended in a Wales victory (2-0 at Swansea's Liberty Stadium in Euro 2012 qualfying). 
- Switzerland have scored more than one goal in only one of their 13 games at the European Championship, a 2-0 win on home soil against Portugal in the 2008 group stages.
- Gareth Bale has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Switzerland (two goals in two games).
- Aaron Ramsey was directly involved in 50 per cent of Wales' goals in their last major tournament at Euro 2016, scoring one and assisting a further four.
- Vladimir Petkovic – in charge since August 2014 – is only the second coach to lead Switzerland at three consecutive major tournaments, after Kobi Kuhn (Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, Euro 2008).

It was billed as the Eden Hazard show: Belgium's global star was back in Lille, the north-eastern French town where he made his name, a stone's throw from the Belgian border.

Instead, the Euro 2016 quarter-final between Wales and Belgium was dominated not by the number 10 in blue, but in red.

Aaron Ramsey produced the finest performance of his career on that unforgettable night as Wales achieved the greatest result in their history, fighting back from a goal down to win 3-1 and reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time.

"That Belgium game was a historic moment for us, for Wales," Ramsey said this week. "Obviously, that's going to live in people's memories for a long, long time. We started a bit shaky, they scored a screamer, but we settled down and played some unbelievable stuff. That was definitely a great night."

It was certainly the greatest individual display Ramsey had ever delivered. He created five goalscoring chances in the first half alone, more than any other player, and ended the game with two assists – the first time a British player had done so at the Euros since David Beckham for England against Portugal 16 years earlier.

He also picked up a yellow card – almost literally, since he was punished for a deliberate handball – that meant he was suspended for the semi-finals. It was such a brutal blow to Wales' hopes of beating Portugal that fans unsuccessfully petitioned UEFA to rescind it prior to their 2-0 defeat.

We have not seen Ramsey play at an international tournament since. Nor, indeed, have we seen him reach such a level of performance in the past five years. So, what can we expect from him at Euro 2020?

 

'Every international team would love a player like Aaron'

The Belgium game was the zenith of a brilliant tournament for Ramsey, one in which he was directly involved in half of Wales' 10 goals from group stage to final four.

His two assists in the quarter-final, a corner for Ashley Williams' equaliser and a sublime touch and cross for that Hal Robson-Kanu turn and finish, took him to four for the tournament, a joint-record at the Euros along with Hazard in 2016 and Ljubinko Drulovic in 2000.

After creating 23 chances in qualifying, more than any other Wales player, Ramsey built on those standards at the finals in that roving role assigned to him by Chris Coleman. He created 15 chances at Euro 2016, a tally beaten by only five players, and at an average of just over three per 90 minutes. Seven of those chances were created following carries – a run with the ball of more than five metres – which was second only to Hazard (10) among midfielders.

Ramsey was top six for passes into the penalty area (40) and touches in the opponents' box (16), with six of his 10 shots hitting the target, the highest rate of any player to reach double figures for attempts. Yet there was so much to admire about Ramsey's less glamourous work, too: he attempted the same number of tackles as N'Golo Kante (12) and averaged 14.9 duels per 90 minutes. Among midfielders to play in at least five games, only two posted fractionally better numbers, the highest being Paul Pogba on 15.1.

Joe Ledley, a team-mate of Ramsey from their teenage years at Cardiff City to that famous night in Lille, knows exactly what the Juventus man brings.

"He's a special player who will drift around midfield," Ledley told Stats Perform. "He's an opposition midfielder's nightmare because he will chase, he'll go behind them and then he'll come short.

"Against Belgium, he was just flowing, against quality players as well and that just proves how good he is. That's why he deserves to be at a team like Juventus and hopefully, he'll play a little bit more.

"For me, he was probably one of our best players at the Euros. As an outsider looking in, without Aaron, they're not as good. Every international team would love a player like Aaron, and we're blessed to have him. The players will love working with him because he's such a good player and links up the play from midfield and helps out by doing the dirty work as well.

"Hopefully, he can just stay fit and we can see him again in the Euros and see how well he does."

 

'It's been quite a challenging time'

Ramsey started 34 times for Arsenal in all competitions prior to the Euros. It remains the highest number he has managed in a single season in his club career.

Injury problems stopped Ramsey from consistently hitting top form for the Gunners. Despite 64 goals in 369 appearances, including an FA Cup final winner against Hull City in 2014, he never quite became a fan favourite at Emirates Stadium as he struggled to string regular runs of games together.

Those problems have continued at Juventus, whom he joined on a free transfer two years ago after accepting a contract offer reported by some to be worth £400,000 per week. Further injuries, along with changes in coaches and systems, have not helped his cause; six goals and five assists in 33 starts over two seasons is a modest return for a player of Ramsey's calibre and rumoured wages.

The problems have manifested for Wales, too: Ramsey has played in just 19 of their 44 games since Euro 2016 and missed training on Thursday, just 48 hours out from their opening game against Switzerland.

"It's been quite a challenging time over the last couple of seasons," said Ramsey, who has employed his own personal fitness team to get ready for Euro 2020. "Many factors and changes that I haven't been used to.

"I've got my own team around me who are focused on me, to get myself into the best possible shape. Obviously, football is a team sport and a lot of the time it is about the team and everybody doing the same things, when maybe some players need a bit more attention.

"So, I take it into my own hands really and I have the right people around me to try to come up with the best possible plan for me to get myself back into a place where I am feeling good and confident again."

Confidence and form invariably go hand in hand. Ramsey exuded such belief five years ago that even Hazard wilted in his shadow at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, and his place in UEFA's team of the tournament seemed secure even as he left the pitch knowing he would not be involved in the next game.

Not many predict Wales can match their achievements in France but, with Ramsey fit and firing alongside Gareth Bale, Ledley is not ruling out a few surprises.

"I think Bale has missed Aaron quite a lot because he's been struggling with injury," he said. "Those two, when they're on their game, they're unstoppable."

Thiago Alcantara says a Spain squad mixing youth and experience are desperate for Euro 2020 to begin after disrupted preparations for the tournament.

Luis Enrique's side get their campaign underway on Monday when they take on Sweden at La Cartuja in Seville.

Their planning for finals was thrown into disarray when Sergio Busquets tested positive for coronavirus last week, which forced the senior squad into isolation amid fears of an outbreak.

Diego Llorente returned test results later confirmed to be a false positive, while the Under-21 squad were used for the friendly match with Lithuania on Tuesday.

The senior players are due to be given COVID-19 vaccination jabs on Friday and no further positive cases have been identified, meaning Luis Enrique should have a strong group available for selection against Sweden.

Liverpool midfielder Thiago accepts the build-up has been far from ideal but is now eager to get the tournament underway.

He told Marca: "Football has changed. Beyond talent, it will be the teams who are best prepared who will compete. We're talking about the best players in Europe at the best tournament.

"We've gotten used to playing under pressure. We're a very young team but used to that level of competition. The youngsters give us veterans a hunger to compete.

"There's another very important thing: we're very invested in what the coach asks of us. That comes from a long time ago, not from now. We're a hard-working team and we're hungry.

"I know [Luis Enrique] from the Barca youth system. He has very clear ideas. He loves the pressure after losing, possession... and winning, which is what we all want.

"The good thing about Luis is that he is always the same. He's no different depending on who he talks to."

Thiago insisted the Spain players coped well with the news of Busquets and that they are far more used to such situations than in the early stages of the pandemic.

"We're used to this situation. It's been a year and a half of living with COVID. We've been accustomed to training individually or collectively, but always with the objective of competing," he said.

"Fear was experienced in the first stage of the pandemic. It was an uncertainty on a global level. We didn't know what was going to happen.

"I was in Germany with my family and yes, there was that feeling of fear. Not here. We have great professionals around us and we comply with all the protocols they ask us to follow."

Jadon Sancho vowed he would not let his attention wander during England's Euro 2020 campaign as Manchester United target the Borussia Dortmund winger.

The 21-year-old cemented his status as one of Europe's most promising young players with another fine season at Dortmund in the season just ended.

He provided eight goals and 11 assists in 26 Bundesliga games, and was the division's fifth most successful chance creator, carving out 67 opportunities - remarkable numbers for a player still aged just 21.

That has led to United, who failed in their attempts to sign Sancho in the summer of 2020, reportedly reigniting their interest. The BBC said United had failed with a £67million bid and may consider going back with a further offer.

With Dortmund reported to have lowered their asking price to around £80million, expectations have grown that a deal will be struck.

However, Sancho is paying the transfer talk little attention as he prepares to feature for his country at the European Championship.

"I'm cool about it," Sancho told talkSPORT. "There's always going to be speculation, especially when you do well.

"It's just how you handle that on the pitch. You've got to keep doing what you're doing; if you keep on doing that, then I'm sure that won't be a problem.

"The main thing is my football and that's what I'm focusing on at the moment."

United appear to be the clear frontrunners for Sancho, who left their local rivals Manchester City four years ago in search of first-team opportunities in Germany.

But, when asked which players he had admired growing up, Sancho revealed his childhood affiliation was actually with a different Premier League club entirely.

"I was a Chelsea fan growing up, I can't lie!" Sancho said. "Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were my favourite players at the time."

As well as leaving a big mark on the Bundesliga last term, Sancho also top-scored in the DFB-Pokal with six goals to help Dortmund lift the trophy.

His two-goal showing in a 4-1 victory over RB Leipzig in the final came shortly after a near two-month lay-off that was caused by a muscle injury.

Dortmund soared up the Bundesliga with Sancho back in action, finishing third after at one point looking set to miss the Champions League places.

Sancho was understandably delighted to finish the season on such a high on both a personal and collective level ahead of a big summer.

He said: "I came back even stronger, getting us through. I think we were about sixth or seventh in the league and we needed to make Champions League qualification.

"So we had targets, especially to win the Pokal, I'm happy that I came back and lifted the team with some motivation and some goals and assists."

Paul Pogba has dismissed rumours of a rift between France team-mates Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud – while also stating he has not yet been offered a new Manchester United contract.

Giroud came off the bench to score a double in France's friendly win over Bulgaria on Tuesday, though he caused a stir in a post-match news conference when he seemed to suggest some irritation at strike partner Mbappe, who failed to pick out the Chelsea forward on several occasions.

During their time together on the pitch, there was only one pass between Giroud and Mbappe, with the former Arsenal man finding the Paris Saint-Germain star, who did not return the favour on any other occasion.

According to reports, a furious Mbappe wanted to hold a news conference to defend himself after hearing Giroud's comments.

Pogba, however, scotched rumours of any discontent in the squad as France prepare for their Euro 2020 campaign.

"The only tensions are on the back, on the legs. The physiotherapists are there for that," Pogba joked in a news conference.

"Frankly, I'm on the inside, there is nothing, there has always been a very good atmosphere with everyone. We will go directly to the subject – between Olivier and Kyky, there is nothing at all.

"I think that what was said may have been poorly conveyed. Kylian, his qualities, he can score and do a lot of assists, he does it, he plays for the team even though I always tell him that it would be good if he defended a little more!

"There is nothing, nothing has come out, I don't feel any tension, nothing at all."

The reports concerning Mbappe and Giroud were not the only rumours Pogba had to contend with.

On Thursday, several reports suggested his club United had started talks over a new deal, with Pogba's current contract expiring in 2022, while there has also been talk of interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

Though he did not confirm if initial talks had started or not, Pogba insisted no offer was on the table.

"Contacts with Paris? I have one year of contract left. Everyone knows that," Pogba said.

"No concrete proposal [from United] yet. I am still at United. My thoughts are about the Euros. I am focused. I have more experience than before, I am focused on the present. I have an agent who takes care of all that."

Italy have been dealt a blow on the eve of Euro 2020, with Lorenzo Pellegrini set to missing out after sustaining an injury in training.

The Roma midfielder, who has been linked with Barcelona and Liverpool in recent weeks, was due to play in his first international tournament after being included in Roberto Mancini's squad.

He featured three times in qualifying, with Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella the only central midfielders to play more games than him.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a solid season for the Giallorossi, his 13 goal involvements (seven scored, six assists) bettered by only eight midfielders – though among them were individuals who play in more advanced roles, such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Josip Ilicic.

 

Although he would ordinarily be considered a back-up for the Azzurri, his withdrawal comes as a considerable blow given Mancini is already without Stefano Sensi, and Verratti is a doubt for the Turkey clash.

Additionally, Pellegrini proved himself an able creator for Roma this term, his 65 key passes the sixth highest among Serie A midfielders.

But he will have to watch on with the rest of Italy's fans over the next month, with Mancini's side starting the tournament against Turkey on Friday.

"Unfortunately this damn thigh problem will not allow me to play this European Championship," he wrote on his official Instagram account.

"There is a lot of bitterness right now ... but it is now that we need to hug even more and cheer on this fantastic group of real men who will surely give their souls to every game from start to finish.

"I believe it. Come on guys, come on Italy. All together."

Italy confirmed they have asked UEFA for permission to replace him in the squad with technically gifted Fiorentina midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli, 24.

Spain boss Luis Enrique has assured captain Sergio Busquets he has a major role to play at Euro 2020 once he returns from a COVID-19 absence.

The Barcelona midfielder is said to be well in himself and able to train in isolation despite testing positive for the virus last week.

Busquets will miss Spain's opening game against Sweden in Seville on Monday; however, he may be available for the second group game on June 19, when Poland are the opposition, and there is no prospect of him being cut from Spain's squad.

"I'm going to wait for him. We are all going to wait for him," Luis Enrique said in a news conference on Thursday.

"There is plenty of time for him to come back. He will be certainly on the list.

"What Busquets brings is something impressive as an offensive and defensive midfielder. He is the captain of the national team and one of the team's leaders.

"He benefits from the fact that he was infected so early. We will study each case individually."

Luis Enrique is looking for positives and working on the assumption that Busquets will be available for the rest of Spain's campaign once he has returned to camp.

Amid questions over whether the squad might be vaccinated before their campaign gets under way, Luis Enrique says it would be important to establish certainty around that prospect, particularly given side-effects are so common following jabs.

"As a coach it is something that we are considering. I would like that if it happens, we get vaccinated right now because it would make me angry to be left without a player for it," the Spain head coach added.

"To this day we have no guarantees that the team will be vaccinated.

"On a personal level it is not pleasant to be waiting for a PCR result. We make the players wake up very early so the results arrive as soon as possible. The waiting is not a pleasant situation, but I have experienced much worse."

Luis Enrique had five months away from duties with Spain in 2019, enduring family tragedy in that time as his daughter Xana died from bone cancer.

The COVID-19 situation pales against that personal trauma for the former Barcelona and Real Madrid star, who said: "For me this is child's play compared to some things that I have had to experience."

At the same time, he recognises that on a professional level the pandemic could be disruptive to La Roja over the coming weeks.

"The virus is uncontrollable and despite respecting and enforcing the protocols it sometimes appears. We are not looking for culprits, but solutions," Luis Enrique added.

"I still think without any doubt that Spain are one of the favourites to win the European Championship. We are in that group of six to seven teams that are candidates for the title."

Italy will hope their excellent record at the Stadio Olimpico can propel them towards Euro 2020 glory in Roberto Mancini's first tournament as coach, with a tricky test against Turkey first up for the competition's curtain-raiser on Friday.

It has been all change for Italy since their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, with Mancini installed as Gian Piero Ventura's replacement and tasked with restoring the Azzurri's reputation.

What they hope will help is the fact all three of their group games – and a quarter-final – will be played at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, where they have never lost (W6 2D) in eight matches at major tournaments, while the Azzurri were one of just two teams along with Belgium to win all of their 10 qualifiers.

Of course, Italy wrapped up their qualifying campaign almost two years ago, with these finals pushed back 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Mancini has vowed to do the country proud after a difficult time as they look to claim a first European Championship since 1968.

In an open letter to fans, he wrote: "Sport in these moments is an essential tool of our life. It can help us feel better. Never before have we so badly needed it.

"Our national team is aware of representing a fantastic and determined people, and for this reason I, together with the staff and the guys who take the field, will use all the minutes of this event to honour the country that we represent.

"They will be moments of joy that will make us forget the past year for just a moment."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Italy – Jorginho

While he will not necessarily be the man tasked with putting the ball in the net, unless Italy get a penalty, Jorginho performs a crucial function for Italy. He was one of three players to record over 1,000 touches in qualifying and his role as a conduit in possession is essential to how Mancini's team play. If he has a difficult game, the chances are the Azzurri will struggle by extension.

Turkey – Hakan Calhanoglu

Although Italy will be favourites here, Turkey should not be underestimated. Possessing the youngest squad at the Euros, they are a vibrant and technically gifted bunch. Arguably encapsulating those traits better than anyone else in the team is Calhanoglu. The Milan midfielder offers almost guaranteed creativity, as evidenced by the fact he created the most chances in Serie A (98) in 2020-21, while his nine assists came from an xA (expected assists) value of 8.5, suggesting his haul was born out of consistency rather than luck.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Despite playing 38 games in the European Championship, Italy have never scored more than two goals in a match. They have also drawn more games than any other side in the tournament's history (16), while also taking part in the most goalless matches (eight).

- The Azzurri scored 37 goals in their 10 qualification matches (3.7 per game); this was the same tally as they scored in qualification for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup combined (37 goals in 22 games).

- Turkey conceded only three goals in 10 games in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, the joint-best defensive record alongside Belgium.

- This will be Senol Gunes' second major tournament as Turkey head coach (World Cup/European Championships), 18 years after leading his nation to a third place at the 2002 World Cup, their best-ever performance in the competition.

- Turkey and Italy's only previous encounter in a major tournament was at Euro 2000, also on 11th June. It was their opening game of the tournament, ending 2-1 to Italy courtesy of goals from Antonio Conte and Filippo Inzaghi, the latter of whom netted a penalty. It was also in that game that Okan Buruk scored Turkey's first ever goal in the European Championship.

 

Harry Maguire was back in team training with England on Thursday ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at the weekend.

All 26 members of Gareth Southgate's squad took part in the session at St George's Park as preparations for Sunday's game at Wembley continued.

Maguire has not played since May 9, when he damaged ankle ligaments during Manchester United's 3-1 Premier League win away to Aston Villa.

The centre-back missed United's final four league games of the season, in which they lost at home to Leicester City and Liverpool, drew with Fulham and won at Wolves.

He also sat out the Europa League final against Villarreal, which the LaLiga side won on penalties following a 0-0 draw in Gdansk.

Speaking last week, Southgate said it would be "tight" for Maguire to be considered fully fit for the match against Croatia after he also missed England's warm-up friendlies with Austria and Romania.

However, the Three Lions boss insisted it was right to include the former Leicester defender in the group, saying: "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."

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

 

Diego Llorente is set to return to Spain's training camp on Friday after returning a negative test for coronavirus.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said the Leeds United defender had become the second player in camp to test positive for COVID-19 ahead of their Euro 2020 opener, with captain Sergio Busquets the first to have done so.

Llorente was removed from the team's base and was due to begin 10 days of self-isolation in line with COVID-19 health protocols.

However, a statement from the RFEF said a follow-up test undertaken on Wednesday came back negative, and that there are indications of a "false positive" from the original test.

Llorente will undergo further tests on Thursday and Friday and will be allowed to return to camp if both come back negative.

Busquets' positive result plunged Spain's preparations for their Group E opener against Sweden on Monday into chaos, with group training suspended and all members of the squad preparing individually.

It meant Spain's U-21 squad was drafted in for Tuesday's 4-0 win over Lithuania, a match that was supposed to be the main team's final warm-up for the rearranged tournament.

A 17-man parallel squad remains in place at Spain's base should any further replacements be needed.

Ukraine will be allowed to wear their new Euro 2020 jersey that depicts a map of the country featuring Crimea, but UEFA has ordered them to remove a slogan deemed to carry "militaristic significance".

The kit, styled in the national team's traditional yellow and blue, features a subtle outline surrounding the badge that shows the country's borders.

Following its reveal over the weekend, Russian politicians and officials were quick to criticise the map's inclusion of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014 but is still internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

The shirt also contains the inscriptions "Glory to Ukraine" and "Glory to heroes", each of which is acknowledged as an official military greeting in the country.

Russian protestations included an official complain to UEFA regarding the map and the slogans. The governing body has seemingly sided with Ukraine regarding the depiction of Crimea but not the use of military language.

Addressing the use of the map, a UEFA statement read: "Following concerns raised by the Russian Football Union, UEFA today reconfirmed its position regarding the design element on the front of the Ukraine national team shirt.

"Considering that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262, which was widely approved by the member states, recognizes the territorial borders as broadly depicted by the design, UEFA does not require any modifications of this design element as it meets the criteria laid out in article 12 of the UEFA Equipment Regulations."

The context surrounding the use of the slogans was more nuanced, however, as UEFA accepted that "Glory to our heroes" used in conjunction with "Glory to Ukraine" does have political connotations.

"UEFA also confirmed that the slogan on the outside of the shirt 'Glory to Ukraine' was approved in 2018 and reiterated that UEFA considers this to be in accordance with articles 13 and 19 of the UEFA Equipment Regulations," the statement continued.

"This slogan on its own may be considered as a generic and non-political phrase of general national significance and therefore may be used on the national team shirt.

"UEFA then carefully considered the recently added slogan on the inside of the collar 'Glory to our heroes', which was included in the new shirt sample submitted to UEFA which was subsequently validated in December 2020.

"At that time however, the significance created by the combination of the two slogans was not considered. Following further analysis, this specific combination of the two slogans is deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance.

"This specific slogan on the inside of the shirt must therefore be removed for use in UEFA competition matches, in accordance with article 5 of the UEFA Equipment Regulations."

Ukraine begin their Euro 2020 campaign against the Netherlands on June 13 and also face Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.

Russia, who start against Belgium on June 12, are joined by Denmark and Finland in Group B.

Roberto Mancini is the mastermind behind Italy's transformation and Christian Vieri believes the Azzurri will be in the mix to win Euro 2020.

Italy are among the contenders at the rescheduled European Championship – delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic – as the 1968 winners prepare to face Turkey in the tournament's curtain-raiser in Rome on Friday.

A proud football country but a national team on its knees after failing to qualify for Russia 2018, their first World Cup absence since 1958, Mancini has overseen a drastic recovery following his appointment more than three years ago.

Banishing the nightmares of Gian Piero Ventura's dismal tenure, Italy are in the midst of a 27-game unbeaten streak – a run dating back to September 10, 2018. Heading into Euro 2020, Mancini's men have won eight successive games in all competitions without conceding a goal for the first time in their history.

Italy were one of only two teams – alongside Belgium – to win 100 per cent of their games during the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign (10/10). The Azzurri scored 37 goals in their 10 qualification matches (3.7 per game) – this was the same tally in qualification for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup combined (37 goals in 22 games).

As Italy gear up for their Euro 2020 Group A opener at the Stadio Olimpico, where they have never lost in a major tournament – they have won six and drawn two in the World Cup and European Championship combined, having not conceded a goal in each of the last seven fixtures – Azzurri great hailed the impact of Mancini.

"Mancini is one of my best friends," former Inter, Milan and Juventus striker Vieri, who earned 49 caps for Italy from 1997 to 2005, told Stats Perform.

"He did an amazing, amazing job. Getting the Italian team back together and getting all the fans in Italy to watch again because no one was watching.

"They have big players, big quality players – real quality like what we used to have 10-15 years ago. We had a situation for 10-15 years after the 2006 World Cup, we didn't have any big players. That's how it is sometimes, you don't have big players coming up.

"Now we have big players, we have experienced players. They play fantastic football and haven't lost for so many games, but they are really, really strong."

This is Mancini's first major tournament as Italy head coach. As a player, he only featured at one major final: he played four games at Euro 88, scoring the opening goal of the whole tournament during a 1-1 draw with hosts West Germany.

Italy, who will also face Switzerland (June 16) and Wales (June 20) in Group A, are taking part in their 10th European Championship finals. They won the tournament in their first appearance (1968) and have since reached the final twice without lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy (2000 and 2012).

"I told him [Mancini] I don't know if you're going to win the Euros, but you're going to get there," added Vieri, who scored 23 goals for the national team. "The team is strong, and they have big players again and everyone is following."

Another former Italy international, Walter Zenga, also lauded Mancini's work at the helm of the four-time world champions, while highlighting the quality of the entire coaching staff that includes Gianluca Vialli and Daniele De Rossi.

A three-time winner of the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper award, ex-Inter star Zenga – regarded as one of the greatest keepers of all time – played 58 games for Italy between 1987 and 1992, including appearances at the World Cup in 1986 and 1990 and Euro 88.

"The important thing right now is we have a great coach. Not only a great coach but a great standard of staff," said Zenga, who still holds the record for going 518 minutes (five consecutive clean sheets) without conceding a goal at the 1990 World Cup.

"All the technical staff were involved in football – Vialli, De Rossi, et cetera. This helps the team to grow up and arrive at the Euros with a big chance to win."

A lot of attention will be on number one goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has played a key role amid Italy's undefeated streak under Mancini.

There is also uncertainty over Donnarumma's future, with the 22-year-old star out of contract at Milan and tipped to join Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

"You have to consider one nice thing in life and football: you can improve yourself every day," Zenga said when asked about the quality of Donnarumma, who debuted as a 16-year-old for Milan in 2015. "There's no one day that you say you're at the top level, especially when you're 22.

"I've met him a lot of times in Milan and his character is very strong. He is strong because either if he makes a big save, makes an unbelievable game or the worst game of his life, he looks like he is [in] complete control of himself. This is the most important thing in life. He is the top goalkeeper in Italy."

Predicting the winner of a major international tournament is a natural part of being a football fan, even if it can sometimes be something of a fool's errand – as proven by Greece and Denmark.

But considering how integral statistics are to football these days, using data could potentially give you the edge, and that's where Stats Perform comes in.

Our Artificial Intelligence team have used Opta's extensive data reserves to quantify each team's chances of winning the entire tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform Euros Prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances.

It takes into consideration the strength of each team's opponents as well as the difficulty of their respective paths to the final, plus the make-up of the groups and any relevant seedings heading into the knockouts.

Then, the rest of the tournament is simulated 40,000 times and analysed, providing the AI team with a percentage for each nation, showing the probability of them ultimately lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11.

Without any further ado, let's check out the results, some of which may come as something of a surprise…

MOST-LIKELY WINNERS: France (20.5 per cent)

Well, this one probably isn't much of a shock. Anyone who has looked through the squad at Didier Deschamps' disposal has likely come to the conclusion that Les Bleus will have to implode a la the 2010 World Cup if they're to be beaten.

Most of the key players from their 2018 World Cup-winning squad are present, and now they can call upon the services of Karim Benzema again, which is no small thing.

 

Our model also gives France a 46.8 per cent chance of finish top of the so-called 'Group of Death', which also includes defending champions Portugal and a Germany side desperate for redemption after World Cup humiliation in Russia.

If France are successful, Deschamps will become the first man in history to win the World Cup and Euros as both a player and manager.

2. Belgium (15.7 per cent)

Could this be the last-chance saloon for Belgium's 'Golden Generation'? Our predictor model certainly suggests they're still in with a great chance of winning the title, with their 15.7 per cent the second highest.

They have the joint-oldest squad at the tournament (29.2 years) along with Sweden, so while they're certainly not a young team, several of their best players are right at the peak of their powers, with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku coming into the tournament arguably in the form of their lives.

 

They looked sharp in qualifying – for what it's worth – with a 100 per cent win record and a 40-goal haul that wasn't matched by any other team, while they will be strong favourites to win their group ahead of Russia, Denmark and Finland.

3. Spain (11.3 per cent)

Now, one thing our model cannot take into consideration is a coronavirus outbreak. La Roja had to field their Under-21s for the senior side's final pre-Euros warm-up game against Lithuania – while it means nothing for their chances at the tournament, they did ease to a 4-0 win.

It remains to be seen if there are any further consequences of Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente testing positive for COVID-19, but if we assume Luis Enrique is able to rely on a squad that's more or less the selection he initially picked, they will at least be strong options to reach the latter stages.

Although perhaps not blessed with the kind of 'superstar' talent they've had at other tournaments over the past 15 years or so, they do have a highly regarded coach and beat Germany 6-0 as recently as November. Nevertheless, their disrupted build-up to the tournament could be telling when their campaign starts.

4. Germany (9.8 per cent)

Joachim Low's going to have to upset the odds if he is to enjoy one last hurrah with Die Mannschaft. The World Cup-winner coach is stepping down a year early after the Euros, with Hansi Flick set to take over.

Having the likes of Thomas Muller back in the squad after a stunning couple of seasons with Bayern Munich will surely improve their chances – though our model doesn't take player data into account.

 

The predictor will see that Germany have failed to beat Denmark and North Macedonia in two of their three most recent games, while they also have a particularly hard group.

5. Portugal (9.6 per cent)

The other major footballing power from the 'Group of Death' – our predictor suggests Portugal are the least likely of themselves, France and Germany to win Euro 2020.

Nevertheless, La Selecao will surely feel good about themselves heading into the competition. Their squad is arguably significantly better than the one that won Euro 2016, while coach Fernando Santos is a shrewd operator.

They also have this chap up front called Cristiano Ronaldo, who is one away from setting a new record for the most goals (10) in European Championship history.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

According to our predictor, a resurgent Italy and Netherlands are the next most likely to win the tournament, which would represent a rather good turnaround from missing out on the 2018 World Cup – in fact, the Oranje weren't at Euro 2016 either.

At this point there are probably many of you pondering – assuming you've not just scrolled straight down to the list – about England's chances.

Well, the Three Lions' ranking here is a prime example of how a good draw can really pay. While they should – in theory, at least – have more than enough firepower to get out of a group that also contains Croatia, neighbours Scotland and Czech Republic, their route to the final would almost certainly see them come up against one – or more – of Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. They're also probably not helped by the fact they've played more Euros games (31) without reaching the final than any other team.

England's 5.2 per cent chance of success sees them behind Denmark (5.4 per cent), whose path to the final would likely be a little kinder, though the caveat is that the Three Lions could potentially play the vast majority of their matches on home soil at Wembley.

Tournament debutants North Macedonia are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the least likely to win Euro 2020, with their chances rated at 0.02 per cent.

 

6. Italy (7.6 per cent)

7. Netherlands (5.9 per cent)

8. Denmark (5.4 per cent)

9. England (5.2 per cent)

10. Switzerland (2.3 per cent)

11. Sweden (1.5 per cent)

12. Croatia (1.0 per cent)

13. Russia (1.0 per cent)

14. Poland (0.8 per cent)

15. Ukraine (0.8 per cent)

16. Wales (0.6 per cent)

17. Turkey (0.4 per cent)

18. Czech Republic (0.2 per cent)

19. Austria (0.2 per cent)

20. Finland (0.1 per cent)

21. Hungary (0.1 per cent)

22. Scotland (0.1 per cent)

23. Slovakia (0.04 per cent)

24. North Macedonia (0.02 per cent)

Spain have confirmed no more players nor coaching staff have tested positive for coronavirus after a recent outbreak in their camp.

Defender Diego Llorente tested positive on Tuesday and was put into isolation, two days after Sergio Busquets was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Spain suspended all training activity and fielded their Under-21s for Tuesday's final pre-Euro 2020 friendly with Lithuania, which they won 4-0 in Leganes.

Luis Enrique has created a parallel training bubble made up of standby players, including Rodrigo Moreno, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Soler, Brais Mendez, Raul Albiol, Kepa Arrizabalaga and 11 of their Under-21s squad.

There had been fears the virus could spiral out of control, but all other members of the squad and coaching staff – plus those in the parallel bubble – returned negative tests on Wednesday.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed the news in a statement on its official website, with further tests to be conducted in the coming days.

Spain begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Sweden in Seville next Monday, before facing Poland and Slovakia in their other two Group E fixtures.

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