Europe’s biggest football competition for countries kick off on Friday and it will run for the next 30 days with interesting fixtures live on GOtv and DSTV
SuperSport is your #HomeOfFootball and the ultimate destination for lovers of ‘The Beautiful Game’. Let’s take a closer look at the format of the tournament, the top teams and players, as well as some special ‘did you know’ information
Tournament format UEFA Euro 2020 features the same 24-team format as Euro 2016 (with six groups of four teams each, round-robin action, followed by a knockout phase), but instead of being located in one ‘host’ country, the tournament will be spread over 11 cities in 11 different nations: Wembley Stadium in London, England; Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy; Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany; Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary; Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan; Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia; La Cartuja in Seville, Spain; Arena National in Bucharest, Romania; Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland; and Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Each city will host three group stage matches and one match in the round of 16 or quarterfinals, with the exception of Saint Petersburg, which will host six group stage matches, and London, which will host two matches in the round of 16. Wembley will also host both semifinals (July 6-7) and the final on July 11. The stadiums will operate with limited capacity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, varying from 20 to 50 percent depending on prevailing circumstances.
Teams to watch:
Portugal are the reigning UEFA Euro champions but do not enter 2020 as one of the clear favourites, given that they were only runners-up in their qualifying group behind Ukraine. Yet with Cristiano Ronaldo leading their attack and Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes as playmaker, A Seleção should certainly not be underestimated.
The bookies’ favourites are England something of a surprise given their poor record at the European Championship, where the Three Lions have only been to one semifinal in the past 50 years.
England, though, have attacking options (such as Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford) which are the envy of most of the rest of Europe and will have home advantage if they reach the sharp end of the tournament. The reigning World Cup champions, France, are also one of the favourites.
Les Bleus famously won Euro 2000 after claiming the global title two years prior and this generation has an even greater depth of talent for coach Didier Deschamps (who was skipper for their 1998 and 2000 back-to-back triumphs) to call on.
Also keep an eye out for Spain, who are bringing through some outstanding young talent; a Germany team which will be bringing to an end the 15-year tenure of coach Joachim Low; Belgium, who are stacked with top performers such as Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku; and traditional European powerhouses Italy and the Netherlands, with the Azzurri and Oranje hoping to upset the odds this Northern Hemisphere summer.
Players to watch
- With 103 goals from 173 Portugal caps, Cristiano Ronaldo enters Euro 2020 as the tournament’s most prolific player. Even at 36, he remains a deadly presence in attack and ended the recent Serie A season with a Golden Boot-winning haul of 29 goals. Marcus Rashford has risen to prominence both on and off the field in the past year, with Euro 2020 representing an opportunity for him to cement a legacy as a generational talent for England.
- Turkish attacker Burak Yilmaz may not be a household name just yet, but he comes into the tournament on the back of a brilliant season in France, where he helped Lille knock Paris Saint-Germain off their perch as Ligue 1 champions.
- Romelu Lukaku is now arguably the most well-rounded and tactically efficient striker in European football, having brought his game to a new level under Antonio Conte at Internazionale, and Belgium could truly capitalise on their ‘golden generation’ if he continues racking up the goals.
- Kylian Mbappe’s heroics at the World Cup helped France claim glory at Russia 2018 – and he’s an even better, more experienced player now! The lightning quick striker is sure to terrorise defences through UEFA Euro 2020.
Did you know?
- Euro 2020 will have VAR (video assistant referees) for the first time in its history.
Euro 2020 will be the 16th edition of the European Championships, which were first held in 1960 in France. Germany and Spain are the most successful teams in UEFA Euro history, with three titles apiece. Germany have played the most UEFA Euro matches (49), claimed the most wins (26) and both scored (72) and conceded (48) the most goals in the tournament’s history. Cristiano Ronaldo is set to extend his record as the player with the most matches (21) and minutes (1793) played in UEFA Euro tournaments.
2. Ronaldo has also won the most matches (11 – a record he shares with Spain’s Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta) and is set to become the first man to play in five tournaments (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020).
3. Spain’s Iker Casillas was a part of five Euro squads (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016) but did not play in the first and last of them.
4. Ronaldo also needs one goal to become the all-time top scorer in UEFA Euro tournaments. He currently shares the record of nine goals with France’s Michel Platini.
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