The 2020 CM Cup: Euro 20/97 Preview

Good day! With the Retirement Home taking a hiatus we’ve got the 2020 CM Cup to keep you entertained for a few weeks – it might well be the only tournament we have for a while, so let’s make the most of it. As a reminder, here’s the group draw as it was made on the podcast:

CM CUP EURO 2097 Groups Image

Before I go through each group, it’s worth remembering this format copies that of Euro 2020. That means the top two in every group are guaranteed to go through and they will be joined by the four best 3rd placed teams. I’ll keep track of all that, so don’t worry.

Obviously we don’t have neutral venues in this environment but neither would many of the Euro 2020 fixtures, as a lot are spread around various host nations. We’ve tried to replicate that where possible. What it does mean though is that some teams have two home games and others only have one. A tough draw for some yes BUT the home & away draw for the last 16 and beyond will be based on this. So if you have two away games in the groups, you’ll get the choice of being home or away in the last 16. Why a choice? If you play away in the last 16 you’ll be able to play at home in the last 8 and so on. We’ll worry about that further down the line.

Let’s look at some teams. You can click the thumbnails to see the full size squads.

Group A

Nikolai won the Anglo-Italian Cup to qualify so he obviously has the credentials. He’s got a plumb draw in Italy too, who won the 2018 World Cup under FPL Chief (found in Group E this year). He likes to tinker with tactics which might be his undoing in the knockouts but it’s such a strong squad, I suspect he’ll win the group.

The battle for second is interesting. Turkey and Switzerland probably have stronger squads but in Giggs, Speed and Hughes – not to mention CM legend Rob Page – the Welsh could spring a surprise with our very own KOTR in the dugout.

Group B

The thing about Group B is that the seed in real life (Belgium) are little more than average in 97/98. They have an outstanding set of strikers and of course Marc Emmers but not a lot in defence. Still, defending Champion Ross Bell must fancy his chances of at least getting out of the group.

Denmark are very good, as we know the Scandinavian teams are a bit tasty. They’re managed by Dave Mathieson who is a safe pair of hands, so even with Michael Laudrup injured and missing the group stages, there’s plenty in reserve.

Finland, managed by MK, have the smallest pool of players to choose from. It’s Litmanen plus 22 moomins. Russia (under the guidance of Dan Barker) have Onopko and the lad with the long name but it’ll come down to them or Finland for third, I suspect.

Group C

Ash Rose’s Holland are the favourites in this group. By pure chance, Ash got Holland again as he did in 2018 where he guided them to the semi finals. He must fancy his chances of at least getting out of the group here.

Romania are one of the four “Playoff” winners who I put through on the grounds that they have a pretty good squad including the mercurial Gheorghe Hagi. I think they’re the second strongest in this group and under the management of our very own Liavinco, they could be dark horses.

That leaves Tom Reed’s Austria and Ross Jacobs’ Ukraine to scrap out for the coveted 3rd place spot. Ukraine at least have Sheva (or Seva) and Leonenko whereas Austria have Purk. The match between them could be pivotal and it’s a home game for Ukraine, which might tilt things in Ross’ favour.

Group D

This is an interesting group as well. England should be favourites, they are definitely the all round strongest and are managed by Dan, the 2016 winner. He’s gone for a bit of an experimental squad but it’s still got more than enough. The rest of the field is a bit of a bun fight.

Norway have an incredible pool of talent but how many of them are world beaters on day one of the game? That’s for Mark Carruthers to decide. They are another of the “playoff” winners who I have deemed worthy. Croatia have some excellent players, such as Suker, Boksic, Prosinecki, Boban, Stimac and Bilic but they lack players in certain positions. The Czech’s might have Nick Rowe in charge but they are fairly uninspiring, some solid 7/10 players but will that be enough?

Group E

It goes without saying that Rob Tait’s Spain side are the favourites here. Rob has blogged for us before and he will blog again this summer, so we know he has the credentials. Poland are managed by the 2018 winner Ash (CM_Hints) but there’s a world of difference managing Italy to the Polish side he has here. I bet he wishes he had Lewandowski. Sweden and QuicklyKevin host Michael Marden probably wish they had Ibrahimovic too but to be honest the 97/98 squad is far stronger than their real life counterparts. Podcast guest Niclas Alexandersson will get a warm welcome whilst forward options include Brolin, Blomqvist, Dahlin, Larsson and a pair of Andersson’s. They will be a good bet for 2nd place but you can never count out the Irish. I swear this wasn’t fixed by @90sfootball curator Paddy is in the managerial hot seat and looking to emulate Jack Charlton. Put them under pressure. You never know with Ireland, they’re scrappy.

Group F

This is a ridiculous group and it’s rough on Scotland, who as I showed in the recent #cm9798challenge aren’t actually a bad side. France are the strongest here in my view and I don’t think there’s much between Germany and Portugal. Germany have more depth but the two eleven’s aren’t far off. I’m looking forward to just seeing how this pans out. Portugal are managed by our own Matt Wills and Scotland are managed by Zak who is doing great work on CM0102blogs, our sister site. The Tartan Army are also the fourth and final playoff winner, which is probably optimistic.

The group has extra spice as S4ooter (France) and Andrew W (Germany) know each other in real life. Andrew of course came through the Anglo-Italian qualification process but will his experienced Germans have enough to see off the emerging nations?

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