It was in March last year when the decision was made to put Euro 2020 back for 12 months; those were worrying times when football had all but disappeared from our screens. But 12 months on and it looks like we’ll be ready for action this summer, and the matches are set to go ahead between 11th June and 11th July, kicking off with a fascinating clash between Italy and Turkey.
Let’s hope the COVID-19 vaccination push goes to plan and we can get some fans in for the big games, because the talent and drama will be there and that deserves a crackling atmosphere. The fans are ready, the tickets are on sale, let’s keep our fingers crossed.
It’s going to be a fantastic summer of football and, here at SBOTOP we’ll be across all the latest Euro 2020 news, highlights and results as they happen.
Favourites flex their muscles
Europe’s strongest nations, packed with talent from the top leagues on the continent, have all qualified and in some style. England stormed Group A with seven wins from eight and Germany had the same stats to lead the Netherlands out of Group C. Spain were unbeaten with eight wins and two draws in Group F, Poland were 8-1-1- in Group G as were France in Group H.
But it was in Group I and J where the 100 percent nations blasted their way through to the finals, Roberto Martinez’ Belgium and Roberto Mancini’s Italy both winning ten from ten.
For the Azzurri this was redemption indeed after they had missed the World Cup in Russia in 2018, their first finals miss in 60 years. And Mancini’s men scored 37 goals and conceded just four in a scintillating campaign.
Take a look at our latest Euro 2020 betting odds here at SBOTOP and you’ll see a bit of a shift from this time last year. Early in 2020 England were favourites at 5.00 but now there are six teams very close together. The Three Lions, France and Belgium are all at 6.50, with the resurgent Netherlands at 8.00, and Spain and Germany at 8.20.
Even Italy and Portugal at odds of 13.00 have every right to believe 2021 will be their year, and it makes for one of the most exciting tournaments in recent history.
Play-off shoot-out drama
Away from the Big Eight the path to the finals in 2021 was not quite so smooth, but it presented some nail-biting moments. Scotland qualified for a first major finals tournament since 1998 after beating Serbia 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out, after the two sides drew 1-1 after extra time. Goalkeeper David Marshall saved from Aleksandar Mitrovic to win the tie and send the Scots into Group D. They’ll meet England, Croatia and the Czech Republic at that stage, which may sound terrifying, but that won’t scare Scotland. Steve Clarke’s men also survived a play-off semi final scare, overcoming Israel in a penalty shoot-out. It was skin-of-the-teeth stuff, but Scotland do have a quality player in Liverpool wing-back Andy Robertson, so their fans will be desperate to see what their team can do against the Auld Enemy.
Northern Ireland too had to navigate a penalty shoot-out in a semi-final tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina, but then they fell to Slovakia in the final play-off, after extra time. The Slovaks had already seen off the Republic of Ireland on penalties.
Big Matches to look out for
After the Italy vs Turkey opener there will be a daily stream of exciting clashes to follow. On Sunday 13th June there’s a replay of the 2018 World Cup final between England and Croatia, and this time with home advantage at Wembley, the Three Lions will hope to exact their revenge.
48 hours later, on Tuesday 15th June, World Champions France will take on a Germany team in a period of transition. Kylian M’bappe will be the player everyone will want to see, while Chelsea duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner will be on the goal trail for Germany.
Spain versus Poland on Monday 21st June is a mouth-watering prospect in Group E when two star-studded sides come face to face. Fans will hope to see two of the best players of the past decade in battle when Poland’s lethal hit man Robert Lewandsowski comes up against the legendary centre-back Sergio Ramos.
I can’t wait!
And in the meantime Italy, Spain, France and Belgium will contest the second UEFA Nations League in early June… and that is some warm-up.
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