Euro 2020: The fixtures, TV details, best bets, trophy contenders and more

Everything you need to know as the European Championships finally get underway

Can Gareth Southgate harness his array of attacking talents - including Marcus Rashford? Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Can Gareth Southgate harness his array of attacking talents - including Marcus Rashford? Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

 

Three hundred and sixty five days after it was originally scheduled to start, Euro 2020 will finally get under way on Friday night. Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been a long, uncertain wait.

The original decision to spread the matches across 12 host cities always felt like it went against the very ethos of a major international tournament.

The realities of a global pandemic made that decision look even dumber - yet here we are, on the cusp of a competition which will be spread from London to Seville, Baku to St Petersburg.

With Ireland absent, and Dublin having its four fixtures stripped by Uefa, there hasn’t quite been the same hype attached to the Euros as in previous years - France 2016 for example.

However as it draws closer the excitement builds. And as the sun shines and life crawls back towards normality, what better to provide the soundtrack to a summer than the Euros?

After all the speculation, all the cynical desperation for the tournament to go ahead and all the misery of lockdown - it’s time for the football to do the talking.

Finally.

Here is everything you need to know, ahead of the 2020 European Championships.

Cristiano Ronaldo lifts the Henri Delaunay trophy after Portugal’s 2016 European Championshsip win. Photograph: Valery Hache/Getty/AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo lifts the Henri Delaunay trophy after Portugal’s 2016 European Championshsip win. Photograph: Valery Hache/Getty/AFP

What is it?

Euro 2020. 24 of Uefa’s member associations slugging it out to be crowned the cream of the continent.

Isn’t it 2021?

It is, but the tournament has retained its original name. Suppose it rolls off the tongue a bit smoother.

When is it?

Euro 2020 gets underway on Friday June 11th, with the final on Sunday July 11th.

Where is it?

The tournament is spread across 11 host cities - Amsterdam, Baku, Budapest, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, Seville, St Petersburg.

Wasn’t Dublin a host city?

Originally, yes. The Aviva Stadium was supposed to hold three group fixtures as well as a last-16 clash. However, the FAI couldn’t guarantee to Uefa they would be able to host 25 per cent crowds due to Covid-19 restrictions - as a result, the fixtures were switched to St Petersburg and Wembley.

How can I follow it?

Sit back and enjoy - especially if you’re working from home. All 51 fixtures are being broadcast free-to-air on RTÉ 2. In the UK, the tournament is split between the BBC and ITV, both of whom have signed up impressive punditry teams.

And, of course, you will be able to follow a number of games via The Irish Times liveblog - keeping you up to date whether you’re at home, in the office or even in the pub.

Who’s in it?

There are 24 teams competing again at Euro 2020, after the tournament was expanded for 2016. The Republic of Ireland will be absent however - Stephen Kenny’s side were beaten in a penalty shootout by Slovakia in a playoff semi-final last October. Slovakia went on to beat Northern Ireland in a playoff final at Windsor Park on November 12th to book their place at the championship.

How does it work?

The teams are split into six groups of four, with each side playing each other once. The top two from each group will progress into the last-16, with the remaining four places made up of the four best third-placed teams across the groups. The last-16 is followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku is among the faviurites for tournament top goalscorer. Photograph: Kenzo Triboillard/Getty/AFP
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku is among the faviurites for tournament top goalscorer. Photograph: Kenzo Triboillard/Getty/AFP

What are the groups?

Group A

Italy
Turkey
Switzerland
Wales

Group B

Belgium
Denmark
Finland
Russia

Group C

Netherlands
Austria
North Macedonia
Ukraine

Group D

England
Croatia
Czech Republic
Scotland

Group E

Spain
Poland
Slovakia
Sweden

Group F

France
Germany
Portugal
Hungary

What are the full fixtures?

You can find the full Euro 2020 fixtures HERE.

What are the host stadiums?

Amsterdam - Johan Cruyff Arena - 54,990
Baku - Olympic Stadium - 68,700
Bucharest - Arena Nationala - 55,600
Budapest - Puskas Arena - 67,215
Copenhagen - Parken Stadium - 38,065
Glasgow - Hampden Park - 51,866
London - Wembley - 90,000
Munich - Allianz Arena - 70,000
Rome - Stadio Olimpico - 70,634
Seville - La Cartuja - 60,000
St Petersburg - Krestovsky Stadium - 68,134

Wembley will host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/Getty/AFP
Wembley will host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/Getty/AFP

Will there be fans?

Yes! All the host cities have committed to having at least a 22 per cent capacity for their fixtures, with Budapest aiming to have a full house.

Different restrictions across Europe means different attendances. In England, where the return of supporters has been aided by a ground breaking pilot scheme, 22,500 (25 per cent) are expected for group fixtures at Wembley. This is then expected to rise to 50 per cent for the knockouts. Supporters at Wembley must show proof of a negative lateral flow test to enter, or proof of a vaccination.

As we have seen recently, even having just a few thousand through the turnstiles makes a world of difference.

Name on the trophy

Portugal are the defending champions, after their famous 1-0 extra-time win over hosts France five years ago - Eder scoring the long-range winner as an injured Cristiano Ronaldo coached his side home from the touchline.

Who’s going to win it this time?

The contenders. . .

France

The world champions are favourites to follow in the footsteps of the class of ‘98 and lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy two (or three) years later. Didier Deschamps has added Karim Benzema to his squad after five years in the cold and is blessed with a frightening array of talent. A spine of Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante and Raphael Varane isn’t to be sniffed at.

World champions France are favourites to win Euro 2020. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty
World champions France are favourites to win Euro 2020. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty

England

Gareth Southgate’s side are second favourites and they are effectively heading into a home tournament - they could play just one game away from Wembley if they make it to the final. Southgate must find a way of harnessing his attacking talent - how do you fit Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish into the same side? Harry Maguire’s fitness is also a concern, but they should go close.

Belgium

World Cup semi-finalists in 2018, the Red Devils could be set to go one further this time round. They have a relatively easy group and the firepower to put away the sides they should be beating. Romelu Lukaku’s goals will be important and so too the fitness of Kevin De Bruyne, while Youri Tielemans continues to develop into an elite midfielder.

Portugal

The defending champions look to be far stronger than they were in 2016. They are now less reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo, with the emergence of Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix. Ronaldo will still be key, of course, but the Portuguese also look stronger at the back with Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo enjoing fine seasons domestically. One big issue is their group - manage to beat Germany into second place behind France and they could be on a collision course with England in the last-16.

Italy

It is rare for the Azzurri to enter a major international tournament with the tags of underdogs, but having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup not many people are expecting Italy to be serious challengers. However, they are a side transformed under Roberto Mancini - they now haven’t lost since September 2018. They are typically solid at the back and have the ability to control the game in midfield - the missing ingredient is a goalscoring striker. If Ciro Immobile or Lorenzo Insigne have a good few weeks then Italy will have every chance.

Flower of Scotland

The Scots are back in the big time after an absence of 23 years - they finished bottom of a group containing Brazil, Norway and Morocco at France ‘98. Steve Clarke’s side qualified by virtue of back-to-back playoff penalty shootout wins over Israel and Serbia.

He possesses Scotland’s best squad in a generation - Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Andy Robertson are all established Premier League starters, while Che Adams is an interesting recent addition. They have a tough group to navigate but seem to have a fantastic team spirit - and the chance to turn over England at Wembley doesn’t come along every day.

John McGinn’s Scotland are back at a major tournament for the first time since 1998. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty
John McGinn’s Scotland are back at a major tournament for the first time since 1998. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty

What are the bookies saying?

To lift the trophy

France 9-2
England 5-1
Belgium 6-1
Italy 8-1
Germany 8-1
Portugal 9-1
Spain 9-1
Netherlands 14-1
Denmark 28-1
Croatia 33-1
Turkey 50-1
BAR 75-1

For the golden boot
Harry Kane 11-2
Romelu Lukaku 6-1
Kylian Mbappe 9-1
Cristiano Ronaldo 12-1
Karim Benzema 16-1
Memphis Depay 18-1
Ciro Immobile 20-1
Antoine Griezmann 22-1
Robert Lewandowski 25-1
Alvaro Morata 25-1
Timo Werner 28-1
BAR 30-1

Roberto Mancini’s Italy are one of the form sides heading into the Euros. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty
Roberto Mancini’s Italy are one of the form sides heading into the Euros. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty

Best bets?

Italy to win Euro 2020 - 8-1

The top of the Euro 2020 winners market is tight, and Italy could represent value. Mancini’s side are in good form and have a winnable group and a potentially inviting route to the quarter-finals.

France to win Euro 2020 and Kylian Mbappe top goal scorer - 25-1 (Betfair)

Mbappe shared the goals with Antoine Griezmann in 2018 - they scored four each as France won the World Cup - but he is now operating on a different stratosphere. France should go very close and if they do you’d imagine Mbappe will fire them there.

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