Tag: Italy

We Predict… UEFA EURO 2020

It’s here! It’s finally here! A year later than scheduled (don’t worry, we won’t get into all that) European football finds itself at the starting line of a month-long football feast: UEFA EURO 2020 is upon us!

It’s safe to say this tournament will be unlike any other that has come before it with the competition to be played in twelve different host countries, some of which will have stadiums at full capacity, others which will not. Quite frankly, it’s all new. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be exciting. In fact, the bizarre makeup of this tournament is probably likely to throw up more shocks than ever before. So what we’re trying to say is: don’t rule out an Austria v North Macedonia final…

And so that brings us to the Icons.com staff predictions. We’ve learned over the years that predicting the future, as it turns out, is pretty difficult. But that’s not going to stop us from trying!

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of official UEFA EURO 2020 signed memorabilia from stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com. Now then, let’s get to it…

There is no shortage of talent among the French ranks, UEFA EURO 2020’s favourites

Edward Freedman, Non-Executive Chairman

UEFA EURO 2020 winners: FIFA World Cup winners FRANCE have a whole host of technical players who are just excellent.
Runner-up: GERMANY always do very well in tournaments.

Golden Boot winner: France’s ANTOINE GRIEZMANN has the quality to finish as the tournament’s top scorer.
Player of the Tournament: Germany’s UEFA Champions League-winning talisman KAI HAVERTZ will impress at his first major tournament.

Notable overachievers: With a relatively straightforward group, the NETHERLANDS will go a long way despite being written off in some quarters.
Notable underachievers: Sadly, this will be ENGLAND.

England will… not do very well. I don’t see them making it past the quarter-finals.

Random bold prediction: Led by Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Denmark will go deep in this competition.

With Ronaldo, Fernandes, Felix, Dias, Jota and more, Portugal look especially strong

Dan Jamieson, CEO

UEFA EURO 2020 winners: With a forward line made up of Icons – Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo – PORTUGAL will retain it. Half of their defence comprises PFA Team of the Year honourees led by a coach who knows what it takes to win. And, of course, my Liverpool boy Diogo Jota!
Runner-up: At a tournament like this, having an ability to not concede is often more preferable to an ability to score tons of goals – just look at Portugal in 2016. With that in mind, I’m going with ITALY.

Golden Boot winner: Portugal’s DIOGO JOTA carries his domestic form on to the big stage.
Player of the Tournament:
Another Portuguese star, BRUNO FERNANDES, seizes his opportunity to clamber into the pantheon of world class players.

Notable overachievers: Now that Christian Eriksen has found form, expect DENMARK to go far.
Notable underachievers:
GERMANY can’t escape the clutches of that Group of Death.

England will… get to the quarters then go out to the first decent team we meet. The FIFA World Rankings put us third best in Europe and we’re basically at home this summer but unless the draw opens up and we get Sweden again it’ll be the last eight for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions.

Random bold prediction: Scotland draw with England but drop out of the tournament at the group stages after celebrating too much.

Opinion is divided on a Netherlands team that will look to Georginio Wijnaldum for influence

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

UEFA EURO 2020 winners: FRANCE. The FIFA World Cup winners can can be triumphant once again.
Runner-up: I’m backing the NETHERLANDS to go the furthest in a UEFA EURO tournament since the great team of Marco Van Baste, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard in 1988.

Golden Boot winner: With an easy enough group to get a good head-start on likes of Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe, ROMELU LUKUKA wins this.
Player of the Tournament:
Does a 26-year-old BRUNO FERNANDES have enough left in the tank after more games than any other player in Europe in 2020/21?

Notable overachievers: With a reliable keeper, strong centre-back pairing and Eriksen, Thomas Delaney and Hojbjerg in the middle creating a strong spine, DENMARK not only have a talented quite but a more than manageable group. I just worry if Martin Braithwaite, Yussuf Poulsen and Andreas Cornelius can get them the goals. 
Notable underachievers:
BELGIUM have the oldest squad in the tournament, Kevin De Bruyne has broken eyes, and they have to travel to Baku and back again. Although it’s an easy group I think they’ll get knocked out in the quarters or earlier.

England will… come up against tough competition en route to the latter stages and scrape to the quarters. But anything less than the semi-finals would be deemed a failure.

Random bold prediction: Wales to score the team goal of the tournament (I’m convinced after Harry Wilson’s goal vs Belgium). Goran Pandev to score three goals at his first UEFA EURO finals match with North Macedonia. There will be at least one five-goal thriller in Group F.

UEFA EURO 2020 will be Scotland’s first major tournament appearance since 1998

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

UEFA EURO 2020 winners: There’s no reason to overthink this: FRANCE have the strongest team on paper, with multiple world-class players in key areas and depth beyond belief. The return of Karim Benzema should not be overlooked – he is the outstanding out-and-out centre forward Les Bleus didn’t quite have before (my sincere apologies to Monsieur Giroud).
Runner-up: With the likes of Foden, Mount and Grealish, ENGLAND have an explosive young squad tempered by the steady guidance of Gareth Southgate. Fitness is a concern, but don’t underestimate the fact they will likely have home advantage in all but one of their games – right up to and including the final.

Golden Boot winner: Only Cristiano Ronaldo had more shots than LORENZO INSIGNE in Serie A this season and with Group A looking relatively straightforward for Italy, the Napoli man – and Golden Boot outsider – will have this sewn up by the Round of 16.
Player of the Tournament: Now that he has hair like Gazza, PHIL FODEN will emulate the great Geordie legend and prove he is among the world’s very best players with a series of show-stopping displays.

Notable overachievers: Sometimes you just have to let your heart rule your head. This is one such occasion. Give me SCOTLAND to defy expectations and reach the quarter-finals. Because why not?
Notable underachievers:
It’ll be quite the shock when the NETHERLANDS are not able to qualify from their group. Remember, third place won’t be enough for two unlucky teams.

Scotland will… be to UEFA EURO 2020 what Wales were to UEFA EURO 2016 – a joyous underdog story. If Che Adams or Lyndon Dykes can find the net, the likes of Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay and John McGinn have enough quality to ensure progress beyond the group stages. Third place in Group D may actually set them up quite kindly in the Round of 16… and you may now stop laughing.

Random bold prediction: No UEFA EURO finals match has ever been won by more than five goals. That will change at this tournament.

COVID-19 concerns still loom large over UEFA EURO 2020

Jamie White, Online Content & Social Media Producer

UEFA EURO 2020 winners: It’s a toss-up between France and PORTUGAL. But I fancy the idea of Ronaldo and Fernandes taking them all the way in the competition.
Runner-up: FRANCE have the strongest team on paper, in my opinion. But the strongest team doesn’t always win the whole thing. Just look at 2016.

Golden Boot winner: Bit of an obvious choice but I’ll go KYLIAN MBAPPE. He is a world class player and, crucially, he loves an international competition.
Player of the Tournament:
BRUNO FERNANDES is a top quality player. It’s just unfortunate that he plays for United. The playmaker has a fantastic attitude and I believe his desire to win for his country will show through this summer.

Notable overachievers: SWITZERLAND have had a good run of results in the lead-up to this tournament.
Notable underachievers:
GERMANY will be the casualty of a very difficult Group F.

England will… win it! Only joking, I was really optimistic for England, with our young exciting squad. But after watching the warm-up games we looked to struggle to create many chances. I think Southgate will be a little too cautious with his team selection. I’m saying we will go out in the quarter-finals but I hope I’m wrong. Jack Grealish will be our stand-out player.

Random bold prediction: The Indian variant of COVID-19 cancels the whole thing!

There are high hopes for Jack Grealish to have a breakout tournament with England

Will Franklin, Head of Customer Support

UEFA EURO 2020 winners: This has to be FRANCE. Their players and manager are serial winners on the big stage and I think they’ll be too much for anyone else to handle this year.
Runner-up: With a fairly ‘easy’ route to the latter stages, if things go to plan for them, BELGIUM have enough to beat the likes of Portugal, England (unfortunately) et al.

Golden Boot winner: ROMELU LUKAKU should easily net some goals in the group stages. If they reach the final, you can expect him to be up there.
Player of the Tournament:
N’GOLO KANTE. One of the best players in world football right now and his ‘under the radar’ work ethic is starting to be rightly appreciated. 

Notable overachievers: I think TURKEY have some great players who are in good form so they have the potential to go far.
Notable underachievers:
GERMANY (I hope). Let’s have a repeat of the 2018 FIFA World Cup group stages, please.

England will… be undone on the day by other top teams. That said, this is probably the most excited I’ve been before an international tournament for some time. We have a young, talented squad with a massive future. We could be gone by the Round of 16 with the route being as it is, but if not I’d expect us to get to the semi-finals.

Random bold prediction: Jack Grealish will be England’s best player by a country mile.


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We’re Back! The Icons.com 2015-16 Season Preview

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 24: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, we did it. We got through the summer break. It was tough, sure, but it’s over now. You can put down those barbeque tongs, stick the sun lounger back in the shed and forget all about that fence you probably weren’t going to paint anyway. Because this weekend, in stadiums across the country and around Europe, the football – the proper football – returns. And this season, like almost every season before it, threatens to be one of unmissable drama.

With Premier League legends Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie all parting ways with the English topflight, there’s never been a better time for new icons to emerge and big summer moves aplenty at the Etihad, Old Trafford and Anfield mean there are no shortage of fresh faces among the familiar stars.

At Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea – with leading lights in Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas – bid to become the first team since 2009 to defend their Premier League crown. But they face a strong challenge from a reinvigorated Arsenal, perennial contenders Man City and a much-strengthened Man United, who have added over £83million of talent over the summer.

Meanwhile, a Gerrard-less Liverpool have flashed their cash and captured Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, among others, while Tottenham will be hoping for more of the same from frontman Harry Kane, who emerged as one of English football’s most exciting young strikers following a frenzy of goals last term.

Newly promoted Watford return to the topflight after an eight year exile while Norwich City look promising after their swift return and there’s more than a sense of intrigue about Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, who were excellent as they romped to the Championship title.

On the continent, there’s more glory expected for Barcelona, led by the irresistible and seemingly unstoppable ‘MSN’ trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. As ever, Luis Enrique’s side will need to see off Clasico rivals Real Madrid but with Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale at his disposal, new boss Rafa Benitez must feel confident of a strong challenge.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 06:  (L-R) Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

BERLIN, GERMANY – JUNE 06: (L-R) Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

The German title race, as in France and Italy, is decidedly less open. With the additions of Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, Bayern will be incredibly hard to catch, though Kevin de Bruyne’s Wolfsburg and Dortmund – with hipsters’ choice Thomas Tuchel taking over from former hipsters’ choice Jurgen Klopp – will try their level best to keep up.

Paris Saint-Germain look certain to retain their Ligue 1 crown, as Angel Di Maria joins Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz – a deep run into the latter stages of the Champions League is the aim.

Juventus will start clear favourites in Italy but the Old Lady has lost some of her favourite sons over the summer with Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Vidal heading away to varying corners of Planet Football. Rudi Garcia’s Roma have been improving season-on-season and could challenge Juve’s dominance should their squad stay healthy throughout the season.

Beside the Premier League, we should look then to the Champions League for competitiveness, where any number of around five or six teams could feasibly triumph. Though MSN make Barcelona the hot favourites, a lack of domestic challenge could help the likes of Bayern, Juventus and PSG, who’ll each be looking to improve on the continent. Whoever wins, we’re doubtless in for a treat as the best in the world vie for the ultimate prize.



The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Brazil 1982

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Brazil 1982.

Icons-Memorabilia

Why were Brazil great in 1982?

If ‘Joga Bonito’ was established by the Brazilian World Cup-winning side of 1970, the team that manager Tele Santana assembled twelve years later cultivated it. The players loved the ball and the ball loved them back. Every touch was a caress. Every pass was played with such delicate precision.

The sublime samba skills of Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior and Falcao were stunning to behold. This was pure footballing nirvana: silky smooth passing and movement interspersed with fancy flicks, spectacular long range strikes, and perfectly executed, curling free-kicks.

1982 World Cup
Initially, Brazil looked unstoppable playing some heaven-sent football based around the beguiling ethos: you score two, we’ll score three. In the first group stage they toyed with the opposition and scored for fun, netting ten times in their games against the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand. The second phase saw them drawn in the ultimate ‘Group of Death’ alongside Argentina and Italy, only the winner progressing. After a sumptuous 3-1 demolition of the defending World Cup holders, it came down to an all or nothing match up with the Italians.

What went wrong?

Because of the better goal difference, Brazil only needed a draw against Italy in the final group game. Even back then, most managers would have adjusted their game plan accordingly, particularly against a team like Italy that had a counterattacking philosophy to begin with. But manager Santana didn’t believe in that. Brazil did their thing. And while the romantic in you says it was right to do so, the fact is that it cost them the game. And with that the World Cup.

In perhaps the greatest World Cup match of all-time against Italy they went behind three times to strikes by Paolo Rossi. Despite scoring two stunning goals through Socrates and Falcao, and needing only a draw to reach the semi-finals, it was too high a mountain against a well-organised defence. Brazil went out, and the world wept.

What happened next?

Zico called that game against Italy “the day football died.” As far as his vision of football is concerned, he was correct.

Brazil began soul-searching again, divided between those who wanted a more European-style game and those who believed they should stick to Santana’s vision. They would oscillate between the two. Four years later Santana would return on the World Cup, together with much of the ’82 team. But by that stage they were a spent force.

At the 1986 World Cup a new South-American star was born, but he didn’t play for the Brazilian team. His name? Diego Maradona.

Other posts in this series:
Hungary 1954
Portugal 1966
Holland 1974