EURO 2020 is finally happening! The tournament was due to take place last summer but was postponed by a year due to the impact of coronavirus. Despite taking place in 2021, the tournament’s name has remained EURO 2020. The Euro’s is arguably the second biggest international soccer tournament behind the World Cup. As such, there has been much hype around the competition. Back in February, I had an ‘early look ahead to EURO 2020’.
Where is it taking place?
The tournament is being staged across multiple European cities for the first time. In total, games will take place in 11 European cities. This has meant that most teams will get to play a game at home or at least close to home. Wembley Stadium in London will host the three biggest games of the competition as it plays host to the semi-finals and final. The variety of venues and cities should make for a summer of unpredictable and enthralling soccer.
The key dates
The first game sees Italy take on Turkey in Rome on Friday 11th June. Following this, there are 12 straight days of Group stage action until the 23rd of June. There are at least two games on every day during this period and so there will be plenty of memorable matches to choose from. The knockout stages start on the 26th of June with the Last 16 ties taking place between the 26th and 29th of June.
The quarter-finals then follow on the 2nd and 3rd of July with the semi-finals taking place on the 6th and 7th July. The tournament then concludes with the final taking place on Sunday the 11th of July at Wembley stadium. Euro promises to be a month of non-stop action and excitement.
How does it work?
There are 24 teams taking part in this year’s Euro’s and they have been split into 6 groups of 4. The most exciting group by far appears to be Group F. This group is made up of France, Germany, Portugal, and Hungary. France, Germany, and Portugal are three of the biggest and best teams in the tournament and so the fact they are all in the same group is extremely exciting.
Following the group stage will be the knockout stages starting with the Last 16. To qualify for the last 16 teams must finish in the top two in their group. The four best third-placed teams will also qualify for the knockouts. From here, it becomes a traditional knockout competition all the way through to the final. In the knockout games, if a game is a level after 90 minutes, it will go into extra time and then a penalty shoot-out if needed.
Who are the favorites?
In my previous article in February, I listed France, England, and Belgium as the favorites for victory whilst I said Spain, Portugal, and Germany were contenders. My dark horse was Croatia.
Now, in the 4 months since, a lot has happened in the soccer world. However, I still believe the trio of France, England and Belgium are the three strongest sides. Germany and Portugal always do well at major tournaments and both sides possess a lot of talented players so should also challenge. I have personally gone a little bit off Spain and I believe their lack of experience could be their weakness this summer.
I believe Italy will go deep into this tournament. Italy has been in unstoppable form recently and heads into Euro on a 27 match unbeaten run. Their mix of young talent and tournament experience should serve them very well. If I was to pick another dark horse alongside Croatia, I would pick Denmark.
They have several talented players such as Christian Eriksen, Pierre Hojbjerg, Martin Braithwaite, and Champions League winner Andreas Christensen. If they can all play to their potential, then they will be a tough match for most sides.
My prediction for EURO 2020
There are a lot of high-class teams who will be competing this summer. However, I really do believe France is a class above the rest. Their squad strength is something that most other international sides can only marvel at.
If we just look at their attackers, the players in the squad are Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Ousmane Dembele and Paul Pogba. This is an embarrassment of riches and if they gel together it could be something special. As such, France is my pick to win the Euros.