Finland Euro 2020 Squad Preview: SQUAD, MANAGER, STAR PLAYER, RISING BALLER, PREDICTIONS AND MORE
The Finland national football team had not made any sort of headway on the international stage until last year when they finally qualified for the UEFA Euro 2020. To this day, it remains their best achievement in a FIFA approved major competition.
Finland is also the only other Nordic team apart from the Faroe Islands to have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals. Although they have managed to secure a high ranking since the turn of the century, their appearance in any international competition is scarce. This summer, they will get a chance to establish themselves in Euro 2020.
We have dreamt of THIS since we first attended the 1938 WC Qualifiers.
THE DREAM OF GENERATIONS has come true and next summer the whole Finland will party like NEVER before.
— Huuhkajat (@Huuhkajat) November 15, 2019
WHO IS FINLAND’S HEAD COACH?
Markku Kanerva took the role of the Head Coach of the Finnish team in 2016 and has been an integral part of the team’s success since. Often referred to as ‘Rive’, the 56-year-old manager has led the team to their first-ever European finals. Kanerva was a former player, who also worked as a teacher during his playing career. The central defender has 59 caps from his playing career for the national team and was well established in Finland’s top league with 291 matches.
— Timo Nyyssönen (@timonyyssonen) October 16, 2018
After his retirement in 1998, he delved into coaching and was soon called up to coach the Finnish U21 team in 2009. He led the team to a European Championship Finals tournament the same year which earned him the Coach of the Year award in Finland. The Finland senior team has lost just eleven matches and won nineteen under the guidance of Kanerva.
FINLAND’S PROBABLE SQUAD
GOALKEEPERS: Jesse Joronen, Niki Mäenpää, Carljohan Eriksson
DEFENDERS: Paulus Arajuuri, Albin Granlund, Joona Toivio, Juhani Ojala, Robert Ivanov, Daniel O’Shaughnessy, Juha Pirinen, Nicholas Hämäläinen, Jukka Raitala
MIDFIELDERS: Glen Kamara, Robert Taylor, Robin Lod, Rasmus Schüller, Pyry Soiri, Tim Sparv, Nikolai Alho, Onni Valakari, Joni Kauko
ATTACKERS: Rasmus Karjalainen, Marcus Forss, Teemu Pukki, Joel Pohjanpalo
🇫🇮 Joel Pohjanpalo…
On the weekend = ⚽️⚽️⚽️
Last international game = ⚽️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/n5rgOMwFhk
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) April 26, 2021
The team does not have a settled formation and is usually seen to take up different shapes in matches. They have deployed a 4-4-2, a 3-5-2 and 5-3-2 in their recent matches. Whether a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2, the emphasis is more towards the defensive aspect of the game. The only change being the personnel in certain positions on the field.
Teemu Pukki is without a doubt, Finland’s star man. The striker is the country’s top active goalscorer with 30 and is just two goals shy of their all-time scorer Jari Litmanen. What’s more? Pukki is on course to break the national record with having played forty games less than Litmanen.
The Norwich City striker has been a key player for the EFL side which finished top of the league with 96 points. Teemu Pukki, aged 31, netted 26 goals in the campaign and is second on the goalscoring list. His efforts in the league have helped the side qualify for the Premier League next season.
Pukki often plays as the lone striker and is the target man for his teammates. A constant goal threat, defences need to be extra tight when Pukki is lurking around in the defensive third. Capable of a wide variety of goals, from headers to long-range finishes, Pukki is expected to be the driving force for Finland in their maiden European campaign.
Another Championship player, Marcus Fross is also part of the national squad. Just 21 years of age, Fross has scored seven times this campaign for Brentford, helping them earn a third-place finish in the league. He has also scored a goal in his three appearances for the national team. A regular in Finland’s youth team, Fross has earned a call up to the senior squad after some impressive performances.
The centre-forward has played thirty-eight games for Brentford and is usually deployed as a substitute, to impact the outcome late in the matches. He does have eight starts for the club but will need to improve if he is to become a regular in the starting line-up.
Finland does not have a good record on the international stage. They have not managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup nor the European Championship up until now. Finland was ranked as high as 33 in the FIFA rankings in 2007 but saw a significant dip resulting in their lowest ranking of 110 in 2017.
Their current performances have elevated them and they have an average ranking of 54 now. This year they have a chance of improving on their ranking if they manage good results in the final. They are currently four games without a win and need to pick up the pace quickly before the tournament kicks off in June.
🎮👀 How the eEURO qualifying groups finished…
Play-offs (10 & 17 May): 🇦🇱🇦🇹🇧🇪🇩🇪🇮🇹🇱🇺🇳🇱🇷🇺🇹🇷🇺🇦
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) April 27, 2021
They were in Group J in the European Qualifiers and finished second in the group behind Italy. In the ten matches they played, they won six and lost four, securing 18 points. They also managed to score sixteen goals and conceded just ten. Although this number is way below the standard set by group leaders Italy, who won all of their qualifying matches, it is something for the Huuhkajat to take pride in. They will hope to reproduce the same form in summer.
Finland is in Group B this summer with Russia, Denmark and Belgium. It will be an unrealistic hope to see Finland lift the trophy. In fact, their maiden campaign may well end in the group stages. Belgium is the likely candidates to top the group.
Denmark and Russia will be the potential teams that Finland could hope to beat in order to qualify. They will keep in mind that the four best third-placed teams have a chance of qualifying and will try to salvage some points to make it to the knockout stages.
FootTheBall predicts that Finland may qualify for the knockout stages as one of the third-best placed teams. It is unlikely they will go beyond the first knockout stage.