As Euro 2020 begins, Ronaldo, Kante takes centre stage.

The 36-year-old, however, has his sights on another national triumph that could settle the greatest of all time (GOAT) debate among fans.

EURO 2020

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The rescheduled 2020 European football championships commonly referred to as known as Euro 2020 will finally go ahead this summer in 11 cities across Europe. Postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flagship UEFA tournament will kick off in Rome as Italy battle Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in the opening fixture.

Several prominent stars are expected to grace the month-long tournament while unknown players also make their breakthroughs. An average England team could fail or achieve their dream of winning the prestigious championship while perennial star-studded countries seek to make their talent pool count.

As the tournament kicks off on Friday night, NoRM Times examines the two prominent footballers and Belgium — the only national team in the world to top the FIFA ranking without having won a World Cup or a European.

Will Kante lead France to victory and stake claim to Balon D’Or?

N’Golo Kante is presently the toast of football. The energetic defensive midfielder makes his teams (both country and club) tick while serving as the fulcrum of their victories. He led Leicester City and Chelsea to English Premier League triumphs, and the high point was a star performance in France’s World Cup victory at Russia 2018.

N’Golo Kante of France is challenged by Ruslan Malinovskiy of Ukraine

The 30-year-old broke new grounds in this season’s UEFA champions league win, with the defensive midfield position hitherto known as the “Makelele role” now rechristened after Kante.

He was awarded back-to-back man of the match awards from the semi-finals through the final showpiece where the Blues beat Manchester City to claim a second UCL triumph. Kante’s energetic and dominating displays — including his performances against the experienced Real Madrid triumvirate of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro in both semi-final legs — led many to conclude that he is among contenders for the prestigious Balon D’Or award, and a Euros win would all but seal the honour for the former Caen FC midfielder.

Last hurrah for Belgium’s golden generation?

Belgium, the number one football nation on FIFA rankings, have had a squad of talented and established players for almost ten years.

These players, including Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Youri Tielemans, Yannick Carrasco, are at the peak of their footballing powers and have won plenty of silverware at their clubs.

Although they have nothing to show for their talents with the national side, this Euro could be a final opportunity for collective silverware.

Will Euro 2020 be the golden moment for Belgium’s golden generation?

They could be buoyed by Lukaku, de Bruyne, and Carrasco’s form, while a fit-again Hazard is always a threat.

Failure at this tournament would be a wastage of a second golden generation for Belgium — following up that of Enzo Scifo and co. in the 1980s. Roberto Martinez, national team manager, has a generational task ahead.

Can Ronaldo, Portugal defend Euros to seal GOAT status?

When Portugal won the European championships in 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo, the country’s captain and five-time Balon D’Or winner, finally had his hands on laurels with his country. The nightmare of Euro 2004 was finally laid to rest and with it came bragging rights over Lionel Messi, his arch-rivals.

The 36-year-old, however, has his sights on another national triumph that could settle the greatest of all time (GOAT) debate among fans.

He also needs six goals to become the highest international goalscorer, a possibility if the Selecao manage to navigate through a group that has Germany and France, two other tournament favourites.

Ronaldo surpasses 100 international goals in Portugal win

Portugal has arguably the most complete team on paper rivaled only by France, but infighting among the French could leave the door ajar for a successful Euros defence for an on-form Portugal side, and possibly another Balon D’Or for Ronaldo.

A total of 24 teams divided into six groups will be taking part in the tournament, which comprises 51 matches.

Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland

Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia

Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia

Group D: England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic

Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia

Group F: Hungary, Portugal, France, Germany


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