Finland Euro 2020 Squad Guide: Your best bet, predictions and analysis of Euro newcomers

Paddy football trader Rob O’Brien evaluates Finland's chances ahead of their first major tournament.

Teemu Pukki Finland

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Finnish football has provided plenty of familiar names in the recent past such as Sami Hyypia, Mikael Forssell and the legendary Jari Litmanen, but surprisingly this will be their first ever major tournament. They’ll take heart from the fact debuting nations have done well at the Euros in recent years, with four of the five first-timers in 2016 making it out of the groups.

Having been at a record low 110th in the FIFA World Rankings just four years ago, they’ve since seen a steady rise to a current ranking of 54th, sandwiched between World Cup regulars Ecuador and Cameroon.

GROUP:
B

FIXTURES

Denmark – Copenhagen, Sat, June 12, 5pm
Russia – St Petersburg, Wed, June 16, 2pm
Belgium – St Petersburg, Mon, June 21, 8pm

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HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Finland made it through quite comfortably as third seeds in a group also containing Italy and Bosnia & Herzegovina, even getting over the line with a game to spare. Their home form was the key factor, winning four of their five games, a narrow 2-1 defeat to Italy the only mark on their record.

Markku Kanerva

MANAGER

Markku ‘Rive’ Kanerva took over in December 2016 having been involved with Finland’s youth teams and senior backroom setups as far back as 2004. He has the highest win rate of any Finland manager ever with 57.6% and is undoubtedly a national hero for just getting them to the tournament.

SQUAD

Having stuck with a tried and tested 4-4-2 all the way through Euro 2020 qualifying, the manager has recently opted for a 3-5-2 in their last three competitive games, which may be an indication of how they will set up against the stronger nations at the Euros. There won’t be many household names in this squad, with most plying their trade either in Scandinavia or other mid-tier European leagues, but they are a prime example of a team being greater than the sum of its parts.

Finland begin against Denmark in Copenhagen, followed by successive games in St Petersburg against Russia and Belgium. With this in mind, the Finnish FA have chosen St Petersburg as their base camp, conveniently just an hour’s flight from Helsinki. The travel requirements of this tournament are likely to have a detrimental effect on some squads, but Finland have it easier than several others.

Teemu Pukki Finland

KEY MAN

No prizes for guessing this one. Norwich striker Teemu Pukki is without a doubt the most important player to Finland’s hopes, and you would do well to find any player at the tournament who is more important to their team. He scored 10 of Finland’s 16 goals in qualifying (three penalties), and now has 15 goals in his last 18 competitive internationals.

At a major tournament it often just takes one player of genuine quality to light a spark under a team, and Finland will turn to Pukki to fire them through. An ankle injury sustained towards the end of the season will be a concern, but he’s expected to recover in time for their opener.

100/1
Teemu Pukki Top Goalscorer

ONE TO WATCH

Robin Lod. Beyond Pukki, Minnesota United’s Lod will also be key to their chances. An attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, Lod will look to move into space created by the front two, and with much of the focus being on Pukki he may be able to capitalise.

He scored eight goals in 20 games from midfield for Minnesota in the MLS last season, and has been tried up front in recent games as a partner to Pukki. However Kanerva will likely opt for Union Berlin’s Joel Pohjanpalo for that role this summer instead.

STATS

Here’s all the key data on Finland’s squad.

  • Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.

TOURNAMENT PROSPECTS

In Group B, Finland and Russia look to be a distant third and fourth behind two quality sides in Belgium and Denmark. However, with four of the best third-place sides advancing, there is still an opportunity here for Finland. Getting out of the group would be a real achievement for the tournament debutants and it’s realistically the best they can hope for, as qualifying from third would set up a last-16 tie against either Spain (assuming they win Group E) or the winners of this tournament’s group of death, Group F.

2/9
Finland Group to Qualify

BEST BET: Finland To Finish Third in Group B

Belgium and Denmark should prove too strong for the other two teams in this group, but there’s still plenty for Finland to play for. I think they’ll catch Russia cold and nick that third spot.

9/5
Finland Group Finish 3rd

* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

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