Euro 2020- A tournament like no other
The European Championships this summer will be a tournament to remember, regardless of what happens on the pitch
Today, a European Championships like no other gets under way. Euro 2020 was going to be unique before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world, given that it was to be played across Europe.
However, the impact of coronavirus means that we will see a 2020 tournament, marketed as Euro 2020, in 2021 in emptier stadiums than we would have hoped. It will look strange, but I dare say that for Europeans, this is the most anticipated football tournament in years.
Moving towards normality has been important during 2021. Getting excited for a major international football tournament is another step along this path. The build up to any tournament is great, but when it gets delayed 12 months the anticipation has been much greater.
The matches come thick and fast following the Italy v Turkey curtain raiser. In the first weekend, we’ll see Wales and England in action as well as the first glimpse of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Plenty of the biggest names in European football will be keen to impress, and many could well be on the move if they have a good tournament. However, the beast of international football is a different proposition altogether.
The usual suspects will be keen to avoid any upsets, especially in the group stage. Belgium are still living in their golden generation, but the absence of Kevin De Bruyne will no doubt be a blow for the Red Devils. They should still be amongst the favourites to lift the trophy at Wembley next month, and if nothing else they will be entertaining to watch.
France have a squad which has talent on top of talent. The big guns of Mbappe, Griezmann and co shone at the World Cup in Russia three years ago. They will be hell bent on making sure they add the European Championships to their cabinet; especially after losing the 2016 final to Portugal.
The 2016 final will in fact be recreated in the last of the group matches on 23 June. Portugal and France will be joined by Germany in the tournaments ‘group of death’. Hungary will, however, be keen to show they are not just in town to make the numbers up.
The home nations will have strong representation this summer. England, Scotland and Wales should all feel relatively confident about their chances of putting in some good performances. The obvious stand out fixture will be when the English meet the Scots at Wembley. It could have major implications on who goes through in the group.
It’s an exciting time for European football fans, and there will be a wealth of talent on show over the next four weeks. It may be an unusual tournament, but it seems fitting after an unusual year and a half.
This summer’s European Championships mark a further step back towards normality, and a tournament where millions can get behind their nations on the big stage.