Jose Mourinho’s expert Euro 2020 country-by-country guide as he warns England ‘it has to be now’ with final...
EURO 2020 is nearly upon us... finally!
And SunSport's resident expert Jose Mourinho has had his say on England, Scotland, Wales and all of the major players ahead of next week's curtain-raiser.
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From squad selection and managers to tactics and even home advantage, the Special One has covered every angle in his country-by-country guide.
Check out what Mourinho has to say ahead of the tournament opener...ENGLAND
IT's a generation full of good players. The squad is amazing.
It will be quite difficult for Gareth Southgate to have the whole country agree with his choices because there are so many.
Just looking at, for example. Right backs. Who is the best English right back? Who is the second best? Who is the third best?
The squad is very good, full of options.
It’s not like some others where you can field a good starting XI but then during the competition they will be in trouble with an injury or a suspension.
Gareth is getting a lot of experience at this level, with a few years and important competitions as a national team manager.
He has a great assistant in Steve Holland and that is very important in modern football.
We cannot be lonely in our travels. We have to be surrounded by good people.
England is probably - with Brazil - one of the two most difficult countries to be a national coach because of what people expect from the team. They have to fight against it.
It’s a difficult country and we expect a lot from from them.
Culturally, instead of support them from day one until the last day, we start immediately with some negativity around them.
They have to be very strong emotionally to cope with that pressure. If they do that, they have a big chance.
The group phase is at home. The semi-finals and final is at home.
It has to be now, because it was in 1966. It wasn’t in Euro 96, because of a penalty shootout which is something very unpredictable.
They have to push with everything this time.
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I WILL be looking for my Roma players Leonardo Spinazzola, Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini — of course I’m going to be focusing on them.
But Italy is a team with a good mixture of good experienced players, guys that know how to win. They’re going to be stron
Roberto Mancini is a very experienced manager - he spent 20 years coaching in the best leagues in the best countries.
So he’s more than ready and he’s showing already in the qualification phase how good he is. The team have improved a lot under him.
Italy have talented players, but they have a very good tactical knowledge. They’re able to play in different ways.
Roberto is giving them a little bit more attacking quality but they don’t lose their nature and they know how to compete.
I think this is the best quality of them as a team. It’s difficult to find weaknesses.
I think they will be always in in the final four.
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BELGIUM are a powerful side- it’s a team full of good players.
Kevin De Bruyne emerged as a fantastic player and Youri Tielemans’ evolution has been really, really good since he came to the Premier League.
They have lots of creation and Romelu Lukaku is a goalscorer with incredible evolution in two years with Inter Milan.
As a team they have been together for many years and they have a lot of experience.
Roberto Martinez is a good manager. He has had a few years with them developing the team, a certain style of play, a certain way of play, he’s very adapted to the qualities of the players.
I think he can make something special - and when I say special, I say more than the semi-finals of the World Cup.
But I think it’s now or never for them because lots of the players are reaching this perfect age to make it. They can do it.FRANCE
FRANCE could make an A team, B team and C team because in this moment they have an incredible number of top players.
When you have Kylian Mbappe on your side it is very difficult NOT to win.
He is one of these players that wins matches and scares opponents.
Mbappe goes with everything to try to prove to everyone that after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he is the next best.
Didier Deschamps knows what he wants. They are the world champions. They are the last runner-ups in the Euros.
I think less than reaching the final, for them is nothing. I don’t believe Deschamps reads or listens to the outside... I think he just knows what he wants.
The principles you want the team to have. Every player has to respect him because if not, he’s not there.
When you have this discipline and when every player follows what the coach wants, the team becomes really, really strong.
I cannot see any weakness. If I had to say one team to win it, I will say them - because the group of players is fantastic.
They have to win it. If not, it is an unsuccessful Euros.PORTUGAL
RUBEN DIAS is the best centre back in the world now.
With his move to the Premier League with Manchester City, he is getting a different level of knowledge.
He is a fantastic centre back. And the one next to him, Pepe, is a 38-year-old with a lot of experience.
That can be a strength for Portugal as they then have lots of talented players in attack.
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is not a kid anymore and this is probably his last Euros.
After becoming a European champion, I believe he’s going to try everything to succeed for the last time.
Fernando Santos is the right guy in the right place. Very stable, very calm, very adapted. And he knows the players very, very well.
By keeping Cristiano, Pepe, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho, he has a structure of experienced boys.
But it’s such a tough group where if you told me Portugal is going out, I wouldn’t be surprised.
We play France in France, Germany in Germany and Hungary in Hungary.
So it’s an incredible situation but if we go through, we are capable of going until the end.SPAIN
SPAIN have a young generation of players coming through and coach Luis Enrique believes in a certain kind of football.
Technically, they are incredible.
Even the centre-backs are incredibly talented technically. So the building from the back, the keeping possession, hiding the ball from the opponent, make opposition run after the ball.. this is Spain.
But they don’t have a top striker like David Villa. They struggle to kill opponents after being so dominant like they normally are.
They don’t score enough goals for the football they play. You can be punished by clever opposition that wait for you and then kill you.
They have to kill opponents for the way they play. They take risks, they make the pitch very big and wide when they have the ball.
But they are a bit fragile when they lose possession.
Luis was my player when I was in Barcelona a long time ago. He has great leadership qualities. He will have the team around him altogether.
They can beat anyone but I don’t see them playing in the final.HOLLAND
IT has been a strange situation for them with Ronald Koeman moving to Barcelona. I don’t think that helped them.
Frank de Boer doesn’t have great experience as a national or club coach.
Of course he was a very good player and respected in Holland. The players will look up to him.
They are not bad players but where are the Van Bastens? Where are the Rijkaards?
I don’t see them even reaching the semi-finals.
They have good young players that will need probably another another two or four years to be at the top of their game.
Holland should get out of the group but to reach semi-finals or the final? I don’t see that.SCOTLAND
SCOTLAND has a nucleus of stars who are important players in the Premier League.
You look at Kieran Tierney at Arsenal, Andy Robertson at Liverpool, Scott McTominay at Manchester United. Then you have others at Aston Villa and Southampton.
Scotland are a Premier League-level team and are better than in the past 20 years.
I grew up with with Scotland going to World Cups and important players that I didn’t forget as a young guy.
There was a big break but now they are coming.
Steve Clarke was my assistant at Chelsea and gave me everything in terms of the emotion and the positivity he brought to my work.
Of course, being Scottish he feels it deeply. He is not a foreign manager coming to do a job.
He has a group of boys that are living the dream at the national team level. The big strength is the passion.
I know the spirit well because I did a few coaching courses when I was a young guy in Scotland. I know the mentality, I know the passion. They really are a family of brave guys.
The group is not an easy one. They’re going to fight for points and they’re going to give England a hard time.
They are not candidates for the title, not even the semi-finals. But it is going to be very hard to beat them.WALES
OVER the years Wales have relied a lot on Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, the two most talented players in the country.
But when I look to the club season and how many matches Ramsey played at Juventus... there were lots of injuries.
When we look to Gareth and how many great performances he had, how many goals he scored against the best teams, there were not many or none.
It’s not an easy situation for a country without many options.
But they are always well organised and know how to create a situation to try to get the best out of the more talented players.
Dan James is fast and is the one that can break defenders.
With the small group of players they are doing amazingly well, so lots of respect.
But it will be hard for them even to qualify for the next phase.GERMANY
JOACHIM LOW’S side were awful in qualification and were awful in the Nations League.
They had a historical result by losing at home against North Macedonia.
It’s quite hard to understand why they were so poor in the past couple of years.
But now this is the moment of the truth. And normally in the moment of the truth, Germany are going to be there.
Low is leaving after the Euros and will want to go out on a high.
This will also be the last Euros for players like Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Manuel Neuer.
They are always a team to fear. They are soldiers. They are very disciplined guys.
They have some very talented young guys there - Joshua Kimmich is an example of fantastic young player that is going to be not just the present, but the future of the country.
The Germans are the Germans.. and I think this says everything.
I think they can be out in the group phase. It can happen.
But I think if they go through the group phase, they can go all the way.
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