EURO 2020 Preview: Favourites, Underdogs & More; Here’s A Beginner’s Guide To The Tournament
The summer of 2020 that was practically wiped off large-scale sports events due to the pandemic is being finally resurrected this year. The Euro Cup 2020, after being postponed for 12 months, will kick off on Friday night (technically: Saturday 0030 hrs IST), in Rome. This, being originally the 60th (now 61st) anniversary of the tournament, will be hosted across 11 different venues across 11 European countries as a romantic celebration of European football.
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@azzurri) June 7, 2021
The league stage, round of 16 and quarter final games will be hosted across stadiums in Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Saint Petersburg and Seville. The Wembley Stadium in London will host both the semi-finals as well as the final (on July 11).
Each of the 24 teams have chosen a “team base camp” for stay between the matches, according to UEFA. The teams will train and reside in these locations throughout the tournament, travelling to games staged away from their bases. Unlike previous tournaments, each team can set up their base camp anywhere due to the pan-European format, without any obligation of staying in any of the host countries.
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) June 8, 2021
It’s worth mentioning here that the Euros are the second most watched football tournament in the world, after the FIFA World Cup. Non-regular fans in countries like India also tune in to watch games from the competition, which features some of the top footballers in the world. But someone, who hasn’t followed club football regularly, might need a little bit of a primer on what to look forward to at the Euros.
This is where we’ve got you covered. We’ve religiously watched all European football through the previous seasons and are now bringing you up to speed with the events preceding the upcoming Euros. Read on, thank us later:
The team to beat at the Euros is Didier Deschamps’ World Cup winning France, as per Odds Checker. Global football presenter Mark Pougatch is sure France will win it, in fact.
“I think obviously they’ve got the experience because they are the world champions, they’ve got a system that they all understand, they all play really well in. They have got so many good central defenders to choose from, it’s almost ridiculous,” he had said.
🇫🇷 3-0 🏴
🇫🇷 3-0 🇧🇬
— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) June 8, 2021
The 2018 World Cup winners played a near-flawless tournament on the back of these midfielders three years ago, some of whom will carry their good form into the Euros as well. UEFA Champions League final man of the match N’Golo Kante will accompany the likes of Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot and Corentin Tolisso in the centre of the park this time around.
Kylian Mbappe will be the talisman up front, while Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema can provide more than able support. History also favours the French: the last time they won the World Cup (in 1998), they went on to win the next Euro championship.
Can England bring it home?
England are the second-best placed team to win the Euros, according to Odds Checker. Former English footballer and current pundit Gary Neville is also going with his country because of the “home tournament [aspect].” Their riches of talent in the attacking half of the pitch are also for everyone to see.
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) June 6, 2021
“I think we will go a step further than the last World Cup where we got to the semi-finals; I just think the momentum is with us. I do think we need to get Harry Maguire fit, keep Harry Kane fit, and then ultimately have a little bit of good luck, and I think we can do it once and for all,” said Neville.
Cool as they come 🥶
Get up close during Sunday’s win at the Riverside Stadium, as the #ThreeLions made it five wins from five in 2021:
— England (@England) June 8, 2021
England’s last major international trophy dates back to the 1966 World Cup. They have never won the Euros, despite a formidable side in the 90s and 2000s, containing David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes etc. Can the current generation reverse the spell? Watch this space.
Other favourites are current title holders Portugal, who had defeated France in their own backyard, in the 2016 final. On the back of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Renato Sanchez, Joao Felix, Ruben Dias, Ruben Neves and Bernardo Silva’s talents, Portugal are seeking to win back-to-back European Championships in the same way Spain did in 2008 and 2012.
Another golden generation of Belgian players is yet to taste their first silverware, after crashing out of the semi-final and quarter-final stages in the last two World Cups. They lost out to Wales in the quarters at the last Euros, too, but some of their players come into this competition with that as the required motivation.
— Axel Witsel (@axelwitsel28) June 8, 2021
Romelu Lukaku won the Serie A with Inter Milan this season, while Kevin De Bruyne led Manchester City to their third title in four years. Qualification was also plain sailing for Belgium as they scored 40 goals and conceded just three to record 10 wins from 10. They also face a relatively easier group, with Denmark, Finland and Russia.
Group of death
Portugal find themselves in an unlikely group alongside France, Germany and Hungary. Only two out of these four teams will progress into the knockout stages. Bookies have placed better odds on Germany going through from this group, aside France.
— CR7 Dot Com (@cr7dotcom) June 8, 2021
The 2014 World Cup winning Germans had spectacularly crashed out of the 2018 edition in the group stages. Long-time manager Joachim Low has announced that this will be his last tournament in-charge and he would like to sign off in style.
Timo Werner found the net and there were also big contributions from Toni Rudiger and Kai Havertz! ✊ pic.twitter.com/dsqQLvDxHB
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) June 8, 2021
He has handed recalls to Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels while the likes of Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan and Manuel Neuer are still around. But a younger generation, led by past and present Champions League winners, Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, is likely to take centre stage this time around.
Underdogs to watch out for
Three-time winners Spain have fallen from grace since their successful 2012 European campaign, where tiki-taka ruled the roost. Fresh blood has thus been preferred this time by manager Luiz Enrique over veterans like Sergio Ramos.
👨🏻💻 CRÓNICA | La @SeFutbol brilla en Butarque goleando a Lituania (4-0).
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) June 8, 2021
Despite their preparations being thrown into chaos after captain Sergio Busquets tested positive for COVID this week, they will feel like they have a favourable draw. They face Sweden Poland and Slovakia, all in front of their home fans, which might just increase their chances of progressing and springing a surprise in the knockouts.
Elsewhere, Italy come into this tournament with a perfect record from 10 qualifying games, under manager Roberto Mancini. The former Manchester City boss pulled Italy out of the dungeons, after they had failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup under his predecessor Gian Ventura.
⛔ Just a single goal conceded in the last 12 matches.
⛔ Eight consecutive wins without shipping any goals.
⛔ 20 clean sheets in 32 matches since Roberto Mancini took charge.
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@azzurri) June 5, 2021
Facing a less complicated group (Turkey, Wales and Switzerland), the Azzurri are another team to keep an eye on this year, especially after the manner of Portugal’s victory in the last Euros. Click here to read about other dark horses.
Where To Watch
In India, the Euros will be broadcast live on the Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN). All matches can be live streamed on the SonyLIV smartphone app.
Online stream: SonyLIV, Jio TV
TV channels: Sony Ten 2 SD & HD, Sony Ten 3 SD & HD (Hindi)
Commentary will also be available in vernacular languages across India.
Malayalam & Bengali TV channels: Sony Six SD & HD
Tamil & Telugu TV channels: Sony Ten 4 SD & HD
Image credits: Twitter/equipedefrance, england, manutdes