Learn English Through Football Podcast: Euro 2020 Preview

In this football language podcast we look ahead to the 2020 European Championships that start this weekend. We look at some of the favourites for the title, as well as the dark horses and outsiders, while we also talk about the Group of Death and the possible Golden Boot winners. You can read a transcript for this podcast below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here, and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at admin@languagecaster.com.

Learn English Through Football Podcast: Euro 2020 Preview

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team. I hope we are all doing well and staying safe wherever we are. It’s just me today but we’ll be hearing from Damon over the next few weeks as we look at some of the words and phrases from the upcoming 2020 European Championships that are taking place over the next four weeks – we’ll be posting a football expression from the Euros every day during the tournament.

Now this 2020 tournament is being played in extraordinary circumstances – delayed by a year because of the pandemic – there will be 24 different teams playing in six groups across 11 different venues ranging from Sevilla in the south of Spain to Baku in Azerbaijan. There are many other changes due to Covid, including squad sizes being larger (now 26 players) and five substitutes allowed in each game to offset the effects of a tough season. There will also be reduced attendances but we are thankful that at least some fans will be allowed in to stadiums to watch the games – not just because of a better atmospehere but as a sign of hope that some things are returning to a kind of ‘normal’. So, in today’s podcast we will look ahead to the 16th version of the Euros by looking at the Group of Death (it’s definitely Group F), some of the dark horses, the outsiders and possible Golden Boot winners – who will be the competition’s top scorer?

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Italian).

Group of Death

DF: Right, let’s start off with the group of death which, of course, is traditionally seen as the most difficult group in the tournament as it includes many strong sides which makes qualifying more difficult. This time round, everyone agrees that Group F is this year’s Group of Death with World Cup winners France, current European Champions Portugal and three-times winners of this competition Germany all facing each other along with Hungary who many people see as the complete outsiders in this group. Three teams can qualify from this group so a defeat for one of the big nations would not be the end of the world although finishing second in the group could also see a last-16 match up with England at Wembley. It’s tough to predict but if either France or Portugal need a result from the final fixture in the group to qualify then their match-up promises to be a cracker. The rankings suggest it will finish France, Portugal, Germany and Hungary but I think the German side might change that.

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Well, we have already mentioned two of the favourites in France and Portugal and the two finalists from five years ago have a strength in depth in their squads that is frightening. Who else are among the favourites? Well, the number one ranked side in the world is Belgium and although there are some question marks over their defence they still have some of the most exciting players in world football in Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Real Madrid’s Edin Hazard. There is a lot of talk here in England about England’s chances particularly as they will play all their group games at home and then, if they qualify, nearly all of the knock-out rounds at Wembley – a huge advantage. But like the Belgians there are question marks over their defence and the fact that the team have never even reached a Euros final before. Italy, under Roberto Mancini, have been impressing many with their performances; indeed, they are unbeaten in 27 matches which includes ten victories in qualifying for this tournament. They will also play their group matches at home in Rome, have a young settled side and are definitely seen as one of the favourites to lift the trophy in July. I wonder can the Azzurri win their second Euro title?

Dark Horses

It is hard to count Germany and Spain as dark horses as they have won the Euros on six occasions between them but both sides are going through a transition period. Spain’s preparations have also been hit by Covid which means their squad has not been able to train together for the week before the tournament, while it will be interesting to see what effect the departure of the long-serving coach Joachim Löw at the end of this tournament will have on the Germans. Other former winners who may be in with a shout of winning the title include the Dutch and the Danes who both have home advantage in the group stages leading many to tip them to do well. The Danish side have experienced players throughout their side and will be expected to qualify from a Group B that includes Finland, Russia and Belgium. Any other dark horses? Well, Croatia were World Cup runners-up three years ago and should at least get out of Group B alongside England, while one of Sweden or Poland could also do well if they get out of their group – they play each other in Saint Petersburg in the last match of Group E in a possible ‘winner-takes-all’ game. Turkey are another side that many see as a dark horse – they score a lot of goals but also concede quite a lot too so they could be fun to watch, while they defeated France in the qualifying for these Euros and also beat the Netherlands in a recent World Cup qualifier.


Two countries are making their European Championship debuts: North Macedonia and Finland and it would be a huge shock if they managed to qualify from Groups C and B respectively. Other teams that are not being tipped to do so well include Austria, Slovakia (but maybe I am biased as they defeated Ireland in a play-off) and Switzerland. Then there are teams that could put together a surprise run and make it to the quarter-finals much like Wales did five years ago and both the Welsh and Scotland sides could do something similar this time round. The Scottish team have qualified for a major tournament for the first time in 23 years and will fancy their chances of making the last 16 – a win against the Czech Republic and a draw versus either Croatia or their big rivals England is definitely possible.

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Top Scorer

Five years ago French forward Antoine Griezmann won the Golden Boot award as top scorer of the tournament with six goals. He will be one of the favourites again although one or two of his French team mates will also be in the running: PSG’s Kylian Mbappé and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. He returns to Les Bleus squad after a six year absence. Other favourites for the title include World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, Italy’s Ciro Immobile and of course Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo who will be hoping to add to his tally of nine tournament goals – joint top alongside Michel Platini.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Dutch).

Predictions and Polls

OK, what do you think will happen in this year’s tournament? You can let us know by sending us an email at admin@languagecaster.com or leaving a comment on our site. Of course you can also join our predictions competition – choose the results for each match (3 points for a perfect score and 1 for the right result) and see if you can beat Damon or myself. We also have a poll in which you can choose the winner of the tournament – at the moment Italy lead the way with 21% followed by Portugal on 18% and then Belgium and France on 14% each – again, come along to the site and let us know what you think.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Welsh).

Good Bye

DF: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster.com and that message was in Welsh. Don’t forget that there’s a transcript to this podcast and lots of vocabulary support which you can access by coming along to our site. Remember that you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or you can drop us a line at: admin@languagecaster.com.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Swedish).

OK, that’s it for this short podcast – we hope you have enjoyed our preview of the 2020 European Championships and let us know about your predictions and of course about any words and phrases you hear about the tournament over the next couple of weeks. And we’ll be back tomorrow – and indeed every day during the tournament – with more football language. Enjoy all the football this weekend and we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Welcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Soccer fans can enhance these skills with lots of free language resources: a weekly podcast, football phrases, explanations of football vocabulary, football cliches, worksheets, quizzes and much more at languagecaster.com.

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