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Finland-EURO 2020 Team Profile

2021-06-09 22:00:00 1058

Finland get their first taste of a major tournament at Euro 2020 and based on the achievements of previous debutants, can't be taken lightly.

Wales and Iceland both made the knockout stages on their first try at the European Championships and Finland in their footsteps by qualifying from the group stage.Getting out of a group containing the experienced trio of Belgium, Denmark and Russia won't be easy.

Coach: Markku Kanerva
Number of European Championship Appearances: 0
Best European Championship Performance: N/A
Number of European Championship Titles: 0
Qualifying Form: Runners-up in Group J with a record of 6-0-4
Major Trophies: 0
Most Capped (current) Player: Teemu Pukki (90)
Key Player at Euro 2020: Teemu Pukki

Lead-up to the Tournament:
Finland took full advantage of Greece and Bosnia & Herzegovina underperforming in qualifying for Euro 2020 to snatch second place in Group J behind Italy. They kept clean sheets in all six of their victories in qualification and managed to remain defensively resolute throughout much of a good Nations League campaign, recording three shut outs in six games.

Perhaps the best blank of them all though came in a famous 2-0 victory over world champions France in a friendly in Paris last November, a game for which first-choice goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky was rested.

However, things have begun tailing off since that French triumph with the Eagles Owls winning one of their subsequent six matches. They missed out on promotion to Nations League A to Wales before being held to a pair of draws by the Ukraine and old foes Bosnia & Herzegovina in March's World Cup qualifiers.

A 2-0 defeat to Sweden in their most recent friendly may have knocked confidence levels further.

The Squad:

Head coach Markku Kanerva is heavily reliant on the two top class operators he has at either end of the field in goalkeeper Hradecky and star striker Teemu Pukki. Only two other shot stoppers kept more clean sheets in qualifying than Hradecky, who heads to the Euros off the back of a strong season with Bayer Leverkusen.

While Hradecky was stopping the goals, Pukki was firing them in at the other end, netting 10 of Finland's 16 goals in qualifying. The 31-year-old has scored three in three international appearances in 2021, while he ended the domestic season having bagged 26 goals for Norwich.

In between Hradecky and Pukki are a few familiar faces in Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, Brentford forward Marcus Forss and captain Tim Sparv. The majority of the Finnish squad ply their trade for the lesser likes of domestic football but have been moulded into an effective unit by Kanerva.

Fixtures:
12th June - Denmark, Parken Stadium, Copenhagen
16th June - Russia, Gazprom Arena, Saint Petersburg
21st June - Belgium, Gazprom Arena, Saint Petersburg

Finland's 26-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen), Jesse Joronen (Brescia), Anssi Jaakkola (Bristol Rovers)

Defenders: Paulus Arajuuri (Pafos), Leo Vaisanen (Elfsborg), Sauli Vaisanen (Chievo), Daniel O’Shaugnessy (HJK Helsinki), Robert Ivanov (Warta Poznan), Jere Uronen (Genk), Nikolai Alho (MTK Budapest), Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United), Joona Toivio (Hacken), Robin Lod (Minnesota United), Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg fB)

Midfielders: Joni Kauko (Esbjerg), Onni Valakari (Pafos), Rasmus Schuller (Djurgarden), Thomas Lam (Zwolle), Tim Sparv (Larissa), Fredrik Jensen (Augsburg), Robert Taylor (Brann), Glen Kamara (Rangers)

Forwards: Lassi Lappalainen (Montreal), Teemu Pukki (Norwich), Joel Pohjanpalo (Bayer Leverkusen), Marcus Forss (Brentford)

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