Appearing in their first-ever major tournament, Finland are sure to provide some of the most inspiring scenes at Euro 2020 this summer.
Though they were fired to the tournament by FPL messiah Teemu Pukki, a drop in recent results has suggested that progression to the knockout stage may be a step too far for Finland, but they are sure to enjoy the journey.
Group B: Denmark, FINLAND, Belgium, Russia
Captain: Tim Sparv
Manager: Markku Kanerva
FIFA Ranking: 54
Best Finish – Never qualified
Denmark v FINLAND – 12 June, 17:00 (BST). Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark
FINLAND v Russia – 16 June, 14:00 (BST). Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
FINLAND v Belgium – 21 June, 20:00 (BST). Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Though they entered qualifying Group J as outsiders to finish in the top two, Teemu Pukki inspired Finland to their first major tournament in style. Norwich’s marksman scored 10 of his side’s 16 goals as they qualified with a game to spare in scenes of jubilation as the home supporters invaded the pitch following a victory against Liechtenstein. Italy finished top of the group, with Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and Liechtenstein missing out.
Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky (Leverkusen), Anssi Jaakkola (Bristol Rovers), Jesse Joronen (Brescia)
Defenders: Paulus Arajuuri (Pafos), Robert Ivanov (Warta Poznań), Thomas Lam (Zwolle), Daniel O’Shaughnessy (HJK Helsinki), Jukka Raitala (Minnesota United), Joona Toivio (Häcken), Jere Uronen (Genk), Nicholas Hämäläinen (QPR), Sauli Väisänen (Chievo)
Midfielders: Nikolai Alho (MTK Budapest), Fredrik Jensen (Augsburg), Glen Kamara (Rangers), Joni Kauko (Esbjerg), Robin Lod (Minnesota United), Rasmus Schüller (Djurgården), Pyry Soiri (Esbjerg), Tim Sparv (Larissa), Robert Taylor (Brann), Onni Valakari (Pafos)
Forwards: Marcus Forss (Brentford), Lassi Lappalainen (Montréal), Joel Pohjanpalo (Union Berlin), Teemu Pukki (Norwich)
Danger Man – Teemu Pukki
It couldn’t be anyone else. Only three players (Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eran Zahavi) scored more goals in qualifying than Pukki’s 10, while another 26 in the Championship for Norwich City this season have shown that he is not a one-season wonder.
Chances are likely to be at a premium for Finland during Euro 2020 and Pukki is likely to have to be at his clinical best to Finland any hope of progressing through the tournament.
One to Watch – Marcus Forss
Brentford fans in particular will be keeping a keen eye on the performances of 21-year-old Marcus Forss, who will enjoy his debut Premier League campaign with the Bees next season.
Forss scored his maiden international goal in a memorable friendly win over France in November and bagged seven goals in the Championship this season. His minutes are likely to be sparse with Pukki and Joel Pohjanpalo likely to be first choice in the striking department, but Forss should make an appearance at some point.
Premier League Representation
No players represented Finland in the Premier League in 2020/21, though there are likely to be at least two in 2021/22.
Teemu Pukki and Marcus Forss won promotion from the Championship with Norwich and Brentford respectively, while Bristol Rovers keeper Anssi Jaakkola is the only other English-based member of Finland’s tournament squad.
Route to the Final
- If Finland top the group, they will play the team that finishes third in Group A, D, E or F.
- If Finland finish second, they will face the team that finish second in Group A (Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland)
- If they finish as one of the four best third-place teams, they will play the winner of either Group E or F.
After the second round, the draw will depend on which third-place teams qualified for the knockout stages.
- Finland’s first appearance at a major tournament will come 114 years after the Finnish Football Association was founded.
- Teemu Pukki is two goals away from equalling Jari Litmanen’s all-time goal scoring record for Finland (32 goals).
- Finland have a winning record against Belgium (4W 3D 3L), though they have faced each other only once in the last decade.