Sparta Spotlight Euro Watch - Part Two
With the clock ticking down on the opening ceremony of the delayed Euro 2020, we continue our look at the goalkeepers to watch from the remaining three groups of the competition, D, E and F.
Group D - England, Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford has come under criticism over the past two seasons having made some high-profile errors for Everton but has been an ever-reliable stalwart as part of Gareth Southgate’s side.
Such was Pickford’s form at times last season, many were calling for him to be replaced as number one by Dean Henderson for the Euros but did improve his club performances and has continued his integral role in the England side.
A lot has been said about England’s attacking talent going into their three group games, all of which will be played on home soil at Wembley but given some of the uncertainty around Harry Maguire’s fitness and even their defensive shape, Pickford will play a hugely important role marshalling the defence, with distribution and reflexes.
Group E - Poland, Wojciech Szczesny
Poland disappointed despite high hopes in Russia back in 2018 when they crashed out in the group stage and this time, they face stiff competition in the first stage again when they face Spain, Slovakia and Sweden.
However, Poland can rely on world class talent at opposite ends of the pitch in Wojciech Szczesny and Robert Lewandowski, both of whom will have to be on form if their side are to make it out of the group.
Szczesny conceded only three times throughout qualification, but their defensive solidity has waned slightly since Paolo Souso’s arrival in January, but their ability to win by the odd goal in competitive games could come in very handy.
Group F - Portugal, Rui Patricio
Last but not least is the group of death, which sees Portugal, Germany and France remarkably face off against each other.
Rui Patricio is part of the Portuguese team who are current holders and he himself starred in the final with fellow Group F side France.
The Wolves stopper, who is rumoured to be a target for Jose Mourinho’s Roma, will have his work cut out against the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Leroy Sane, Kai Havertz and Karim Benzema in one of the toughest groups of any tournament in living memory.
All four goalkeepers, including massive underdogs Hungary, will have to be on point, but Patricio will be looking to repeat the heroics of 2016.