Everything You Need To Know About the 2020 European Championship

For the second time in the history of the European Championship there are 24 participating nations.

5 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates winning Euro 2016 

Delayed for a year, like most sports events, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UEFA organised European Championships is all set to kick off on 11 June. For the first time in their 60-year history, the competition will travel across the continent and this is the second time 24 nations are participating.

Some of the game’s biggest names like Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, and Kevin de Bruyne to name a few, will be seen, as they battle it out for the Henri Delaunay trophy, promising a festival for the football fans.

The Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal, who won a major trophy for the first time in 2016, are the defending champions. Can the world champions France knock them over or will the world number 1 side Belgium’s golden generation outshine the lot?

Skillzy and the Henri Delaunay Trophy in Rome
Skillzy and the Henri Delaunay Trophy in Rome
Image: UEFA

When Will Euro 2021 Be Held?

The tournament was originally slated to take place from 12 June to 12 July last year but will now begin from 11 June to 11 July 2021. It will consist of 24 teams and 51 matches in 11 host cities across Europe.

The tournament’s curtain raiser will see Turkey play the traditional powerhouse Italy in Rome.


What Are the Venues and Why Is It Across the Continent?

UEFA had originally designated the tournament to visit 13 cities in as many countries across Europe but had to exclude Brussels (delay in building stadium) and Dublin (no guarantee for spectators’ presence), narrowing it down to 11. Spain meanwhile changed their host city Bilbao to Seville.

The final and the semi-finals have been allotted to Wembley in London.

  • · Amsterdam (Netherlands) – Johan Cruijff ArenA
  • · Baku (Azerbaijan) – Baku Olympic Stadium
  • · Bucharest (Romania) – National Arena Bucharest
  • · Budapest (Hungary) – Puskás Arena
  • · Copenhagen (Denmark) – Parken Stadium
  • · Glasgow (Scotland) – Hampden Park
  • · London (England) – Wembley Stadium
  • · Munich (Germany) – Football Arena Munich
  • · Rome (Italy) – Stadio Olimpico
  • · Saint Petersburg (Russia) – Saint Petersburg Stadium
  • · Seville (Spain) – Estadio La Cartuja

The plan to have the tournament across the continent was hatched to mark the 60th anniversary, and the then UEFA General Secretary and current FIFA President Gianni Infantino decided on this in 2012. "Instead of having a party in one country, we will have a party all over Europe in the summer of 2020," Infantino had said.


Has the Format Changed for the 60th Edition?

The 24-team format was introduced by UEFA in Euro 2016 and the organisers have stuck to the same format for this edition as well.

There will be six groups comprising four teams, with the top two from each going on to the ‘Round of 16’. There they will be joined by the four best third-place teams as the knockout stages commence.

The Round of 16 starts on 26 June after 13 days of the group stages and two days of rest.

All 24 teams went through the qualifying rounds as well with no additional advantages as hosts for any nation.


Who Are the Favourites?

With so many great players on display at the Euros, it is difficult to predict who will go all the way, but without a doubt there are more than a few strong contenders.

For starters, Portugal with Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Ruben Dias cannot be taken lightly and promise some exciting battles when they come against the world champions France and Germany. The French with the likes of Mbappe, Pogba, Karim Benzema in attack are definitely in the mix for more success while Germany, 2014 World Champions, have a statement to make after a disappointing World Cup in 2018.

With plenty of their World Cup stars still in their prime or yet to peak, France will fancy their chances of replicating their Euro 2000 and World Cup 2002 triumphs.

Joining the pack are also the likes of Belgium and England. While the Belgians have players like de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in sublime form, England boasts of an exciting array of attacking talent with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, and Phil Foden, who can turn the game on its head in seconds.


Which Teams Could Spring a Surprise?

A transitional Spain side coached by Luis Enrique do not have the toughest group with Sweden, Poland, and Slovakia for company, and could build up steam and become a formidable force. Along with them, 2018 World Cup runner-up Croatia aren’t to be taken lightly either, despite the ageing squad, as they are not going down without a fight.

Switzerland could be a dark horse to watch, they have reached the knockout stages of the last three major tournaments they have appeared at. They beat Belgium in the Nation Leagues 5-2 in 2018, displaying an unbelievable comeback and demonstrating the desire to win.

Holland and Italy are also among the teams who are going through a transition, having experienced some humiliating lows in recent years. Neither have very difficult groups to deal with and could cause some damage in the knockout stages.

There’s also Poland bringing Ballon d’Or ,chasing Robert Lewandowski to the Euros, backed by a supporting cast including Arkadiusz Milik, Piotr Zieliński, and Mateusz Klich.

Everything You Need To Know About the 2020 European Championship
Image: UEFA

What About COVID-19 Regulations for Teams?

As has been the case with all football leagues and sporting tournaments around the world in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams will be tested regularly in their bio-bubbles, and basic protocols will have to be adhered to.

Teams hit by COVID-19 cases or mandatory quarantine at the European Championship can have their games postponed for up to 48 hours to get new players in, UEFA said. A match will not be called off or postponed if each team has at least 13 players, including one goalkeeper, available for selection. The team responsible for a game not being played will forfeit it as a 3-0 loss and the national federation will face disciplinary action by UEFA.

UEFA has also decided to increase the squads for all teams to 26 players but on matchday only 23 players remain as the maximum permitted.

All teams can use a maximum of five substitutes, with a sixth substitute allowed only in extra time. Each team may use a maximum of three stoppages in play to make substitutions and an additional stoppage may be used during extra time.


Will Euro 2021 Have Fans at Stadiums?

Yes, of course! It was precisely the reason that forced UEFA to drop Dublin as a venue, as there wasn’t assurance of having enough of an audience.

Budapest is looking forward to welcoming all fans, while St Petersburg and Baku hope to use 50 percent of their stadium capacity.

Most other major cities like Amsterdam, Bucharest, Munich, and London are being more watchful in their approach on the matter, depending on how the pandemic develops. If things progress smoothly in England the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium in London could be at more than 25% capacity for the semis and the final on 11 July.

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