Sparta Spotlight Euro Watch - Part One
Never since the 1950’s has there been a three-year gap between international tournaments and after the nation was encapsulated by the 2018 World Cup, everybody is on tenterhooks and full of some much-needed optimism brought by the upcoming European Championships.
Ahead of the opening round of matches next Thursday, we will be looking at the goalkeepers who could make a name for themselves in the group stages in the delayed Euro 2020. This week’s Sparta Spotlight gives you the goalkeeper to watch from Groups A, B and C, looking at the remaining three groups in next week’s edition.
Group A- Turkey, Mert Günok
The Istanbul Basaksehir goalkeeper, Mert Günok is part of Turkey’s first major tournament since Euro 2008 and played all but one of their qualification matches on the way to the finals this time around.
Turkey have reemerged from the relative wilderness in international football and turned a few heads in their impressive qualification campaign, conceding a very stingy three goals, better than that of group rivals France and earned four points from the world champions.
Günok, who won the Turkish Super Lig in 2020, will make his tournament debut against Italy in the first game of the Euros next Thursday and it is likely to be a defensive set up for Senol Gunes’ men in order to give them a chance of progressing, in which Günok will play a pivotal role.
Group B- Denmark, Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel had a mixed end to the season with Leicester, captaining them to the FA Cup but missing out on the top four from a seemingly impossible position for the second consecutive season, so will be seeking the perfect antidote with his native Denmark.
Also captain of his national side, Kasper will harbour aspirations of emulating his father’s success of 1992 by winning the European Championship, heralded as the country’s greatest ever sporting achievement.
Denmark should make it out of Group B, but will face one of the favorites in Belgium and the World Cup surprise package Russia. However, a strong result and a clean sheet for Schmeichel in the first game with Finland could see the Danes set up for a strong start.
Group C - North Macedonia, Stole Dimitrievski
Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski will make history on Saturday June 13th, as he will become the first ever North Macedonian number one at a major tournament.
With many players, including record goal scorer George Pandev, older than the country itself (who gained independence in 1991), Dimitrievski is only twenty-seven years old, but made his international debut more than six years ago, closing in on a half century of caps.
Dimitrievski played and kept a clean sheet in North Macedonia’s all-important play-off with Georgia, winning 1-0 to que delirium on the pitch in Tbilisi.
On the back of another historic result recently, a World Cup Qualification win away to Germany, they will be in great spirits going into their opening fixture against Austria and may even fancy themselves to progress from second or third in the group should they come away with a result in Bucharest.