Euro 2020: France have edge, need to perform, says Antonio Lopez Habas
ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Lopez Habas feels France are the favourites to win the Euro 2020 title.
“France is a balanced team. They are world champions and very good on the physical as well as technical level. They are the favourites, but they have to prove that on the pitch. Other teams are not in the tournament as mere tourists,” Habas told The Telegraph from Madrid.
Habas feels the return of Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema to the French national is the best thing to happen. “Benzema is an extraordinary player and his return is the best football moment for France. With (Antoine) Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, they have an enviable frontline. Didier Deschamps is spoilt for choice.”
Habas is someone who doesn’t believe in predictions but after much prodding, listed his semi-finalists. “It’s very difficult to predict in a tournament as important as Euro. I think it might be Germany, France, England and Spain,” he said.
Talking about his favourite Spain, Habas said Luis Enrique’s men have enough quality to take the best teams head-on. “They have the quality and talent to be among the best. They have the balance in all the playing zones. But the problem is who will score goals. Maybe they have to get goals from the midfielders. Also, Sergio Ramos’s absence is a huge blow,” the Spaniard, who turned 64 last month, said.
According to Habas, defending champions Portugal’s fate will depend much on Cristiano Ronaldo. “Personally, I think he is not in good form at this point in time and that can decide how far Portugal would go in the tournament. Portugal love to play on the break and if Cristiano gets going this team will be very competitive.”
England also are one of the pre-tournament favourites and Habas said English football has evolved in the last few years.
“England have changed their style of football. It’s more European now when they have the possession. They have given up on their direct play style and that is a very important sign of their football idea. They are trying that for the last few years. They have very important players and can beat anyone on their day,” he said.
Europe once again has showed the way as the tournament will be played in 11 cities from as diverse as Baku to Seville to Rome to London. It’s a huge achievement since Europe was rattled by Covid-19 last year.
“In Europe, except for specific outbreaks of the virus, the situation is very much in control. Also, with most of the population being vaccinated, the risk of getting infected is becoming less and less. But I am sure fans will not be allowed to have parties which is the norm in an Euro or World Cup. Covid-19 controls will be there. If you ask me, I am not in favour of 11 cities as venues. But Uefa wants to have football in more countries. Maybe people will have a reason to smile about after what has happened in the past one and a half years,” Habas said.