Extraordinary Euro 2020

Euro (European Championship)Football Games

The European Football Championship (Euro 2020) of football is actually held in 2021. The global pandemic of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) forced it to be postponed, just like the Tokyo Olympics.

In consideration of the congested schedule of last season due to the pandemic, the number of registered players has been changed to 5 (6th is possible in extra-time). The number of registered players has been increased from 23 to 26 based on the possibility of withdrawals due to infection.

Usually the tournament is hosted in 1 or 2 countries. But instead, it was decided to hold it in many cities, so it took a lot of effort preparing. Moreover, as many people move across national borders, the risk of spreading the infection is higher than usual format, making the tournament operation extremely difficult.

Euro 2020 co-hosted in 11 countries

Euro 2020 Qualifiers

55 countries that are members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) participated in Euro 2020, of which 24 teams broke through the qualifiers.

Euro 2020 Qualifiers draw

“Group of Death”

In the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Portugal did not pick up their form well and passed qualifiers’ group B in 2nd place, so despite being the defending champions, they entered pot 3 in the draw of this tournament. There was a premonition that the Portuguese group would become a so-called “group of death”. And the formed group F was a more fierce combination than expected.

Euro 2020 Finals draw

Germany are extremely strong in international competitions, having achieved champions 3 times and runner-ups 3 times in the European championships. France came 2nd place in the last Euro 2016 and won the World Cup 2018 brilliantly. With star players such as FW Kylian Mbappe and MF Paul Pogba, they have advanced to the finals in a row in major tournaments, and are probably the strongest team at present in the world both in name and reality.

The manager Didier Deschamps pardoned Karim Benzema, who was once banished due to problems, despite being a treasure trove of talents that many influential players are excluded. Since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid, Benzema has shined brighter to fill the gap. The French national team brought back the treasure, and are ready to take on in the perfect shape.

Hungary, once the powerhouse, are by no means easy opponents to win.

All 24 teams qualified for the EURO 2020 finals

Curtain-raiser

At the opening ceremony, the event was held with a social distance for both the performance and the stands.

Euro 2020 Opening ceremony

A virtual ceremony was also held, which seemed to symbolise increasingly digitalised society.

Euro 2020 virtual Opening ceremony

Group Stage

16 teams advanced to the knockout stage of the 24 countries that participated in the Euro 2020 final tournament.

Italy, the leader in Group A, had the highest score with “9 points and goal difference +7.” Other than that, Belgium in Group B and the Netherlands in Group C also won all 3 matches.

Group F became a big melee as expected, with all 4 teams France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary crowded between 5 and 2 points.

Euro 2020 Group Stage

Knockout Stage

Befitting to celebrate the 60th Euro Tournament, the final match is held at Wembley Stadium, the sacred ground of England, the home of football.

Round 16

Wales 0–4 Denmark
Italy 2–1 Austria
Netherlands 0–2 Czech Republic
Belgium 1–0 Portugal
Croatia 3–5 Spain
France 3–2 Switzerland (Penalty Shoot-Out: France 4–5 Switzerland)
England 2–0 Germany
Sweden 1–2 Ukraine

In Round 16 of the Euro, Denmark achieved a complete victory over Wales to encourage Christian Eriksen, who fell ill.

Although Austria were eliminated, they fought well  until the end against Italy, who had been in good shape.

The Netherlands, who missed the previous finals, advanced to Round 16 in this tournament. However, Their player got sent off and dug a grave, and succumbed to the Czech Republic.

The match between Belgium and Portugal, who were favourites for the championship, was a competitive battle, but Belgium managed to shake off the defending champions. Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo stood stunned when he heard the whistle announcing the end of the match. Can Cristiano Ronaldo’s brave figure be seen again in the Euro?

The highly technical match between Croatia and Spain was a good entertaining game with a lot of goals to watch. Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon, who conceded an own goal, saved Spain many times without a meltdown and showed his mental strength. It can be said that Unai Simon became one of the key players in the victory, although he gave away the opening goal to his opponents by his own mistake.

Switzerland held onto the world champions France to the end. Then, in the penalty shoot-out, everyone scored and the kick of France’s fifth Kylian Mbappé went onto an easy course, which was stopped. Reputed to be the treasure of the world, the French ace, who had been sailing smoothly until then, was given a cruel challenge. He is still young, but he is also a charity-minded and noble person. He would not be able to sleep for a while, but we can’t wait to see him overcoming this predicament and having grown into a bigger monster.

England and Germany encountered in Wembley. England won the destined battle with the clean sheet at home.

The match between Sweden and Ukraine was a close competition and entered extra-time. Then Sweden got their player sent off, and were finally exhausted. Ukraine advanced to the knockout stage and achieved the best 8 for the first time in the history of the country.The manager Andriy Shevchenko, who’s the former Ukraine’s star, surpassed his own record as a player and showed a smile on his face.

Quarter-finals

Switzerland 1–1 Spain (Penalty Shoot-Out: Switzerland 1–3 Spain)
Belgium 1–2 Italy 
Czech Republic 1–2 Denmark
Ukraine 0–4 England

In the quarter-finals, Spain overwhelmed Switzerland with ball possession 66%: 34% and shots on target 10: 2, however, it was a draw after battling for 120 minutes. Spain managed to advance to the semi-final by the penalty shoot-out. Switzerland forced opponents into draws for the second consecutive match, following the Round of 16 against France. Switzerland were a highly complete team, with every player demonstrating his full potential and scoring goals in important situations.

Italy, the traditional powerhouse against Belgium, who have been growing rapidly in recent years. Italy have been in great shape in this tournament and pushed past the emerging forces by their capacities. The Belgium’s captain and ace striker, Eden Hazard missed the match due to injury. Eden Hazard, who watched the game in the stand, showed an indescribable expression on his face.

The match between Czech Republic and Denmark was a good and closely contested match. Denmark grabbed a victory with their solid football.

Ukraine made it to the Euro semi-finals for the first time in the country’s history, but it was difficult to reach the opponents’ goal throughout the 90 minutes. The manager Andriy Shevchenko admitted a complete defeat.

England showed overwhelming abilities. The goal of finishing the tournament by playing at their home, Wembley Stadium was a big motivation as well. England has not won international tournaments for a long time despite having the economically largest league of  the world within the country. One reason is that they respect the traditions of the football home nation and deviate from the latest world football standards.

However, without leaving the traditional English football old-fashioned, they have been updating to a level that no country can imitate. It made us feel that the next big title wouldn’t be so far away.

Semi-finals

Italy 1–1 Spain (Penalty Shoot-Out: Italy 4–2 Spain)
England 2–1  Denmark

In the match between Italy and Spain, Spain dominated the ball possession with 35% : 65%. The number of shots were 7 : 16, which Spain had more than double. However, it was the same for both teams with 4 shots on target. Italy were also an attacking team, and it was a closely matched and really spectacular game.

England blundered and conceded the opening goal at home, but after equalised, they had a stable match and won at the end of extra time.

Italy and England to battle at Wembley Stadium in the final.

Final

Italy 1–1 England(Penalty Shoot-Out: Italy 3–2 England)

Italy defeated England at the end of the penalty shoot-out and won the second championship after 53 years since 1968.

England couldn’t achieve winning the Euro for the first time. After winning the 1966 World Cup in their home country, local fans who went to the Sacred ground Wembley Stadium were terribly disappointed.

The actual situation of the game is different from the data

Looking only at the data, the ball possession is “Italy 61% : England 39%,” and the number of shots is Italy 20 (6 on-target) and England 6 (1 on-target). It looks like Italy overwhelmed in the match content, but the reality is not.

A big opportunity came in the 2nd minute immediately after the kick-off. A gaping hole was made in the mid-field of Italy, and several England players were completely free. England couldn’t miss such a space, and they managed to reach a goal firmly. Leading at your home stadium is a huge advantage.

Given the state of complete away, it would be normal to enter the match more firmly, but Italy were leaning far forwards. It was a big blunder as Roberto Mancini, who has transformed the Italian national team into an attacking side, also raised his hand suggesting the players “what’s wrong?”

It must be a standard in football to make it compact and enter games without giving space in the middle of the park. We have to say that Italy were unconscious at the start.

However, Italy’s way of playing the match became clear as they conceded a goal shortly after the start of the match. They had no choice but to attack.

England lost to the sweet temptation of “a windfall”

On the other hand, this 1 goal lead was like “a windfall” for England and they were lost by the sweet temptation. The idea that “If you keep the lead as it is, you will win” may have come across the players’ heads.

At this tournament, the well-organised Italy’s attack was very impressive. It was a mature combination at the big club level, as if watching Juventus.

However, England also had a high level of offensive capabilities to compete with Italy. In terms of the destructiveness of individual players, it was superior to Italy. The lineup that Harry Kane, who can score goals from anywhere in the air and at his feet, was set as the main gun, and Raheem Sterling, who was fast and sharp, was placed beside him, was very threatening.

However, England hid their effective weapons and sat back to its own end. It tends to be as the bigger the tournament becomes, England were afraid of conceding goals and was concentrated on defending.

It has been a challenge for England for a long time to be able to defend but not capable of scoring. However, the England national team has evolved into a side that can defend and score goals in recent years. However, a bad habit came out at this critical moment. A team that weren’t very confident in their defence would have continued to attack, but England judged that it’s possible to defend until the end.

“Let possess the ball” but not “the ball dominated” by Italy

What made England different this time was that they had capacities to attack but did not continue to attack. It’s not like “No ways to attack,” but they ended up thinking, “Let’s not attack”. England were not “dominated of the ball” by Italy, but “they let Italy hold the ball.” This is what’s mentioned at the beginning, This is what meant by “The actual situation was different from the data may appear.”

High expectation for England’s future

However, England also had many positive points for the future. While maintaining their traditional style, England have evolved in detail to become a team that can be competitive in international tournaments. Many promising young players are also growing. This is largely due to the fact that the English Premier League, the world’s major league, has actively facilitated internationalisation.

Stunning Italian football

Roberto Mancini has formed a spectacular side with a limited period available per year for the national team. 

Italian football is characterised by their solid defence, but he implanted attacking mindsets to them. Italy in this tournament showed truly spectacular performances and were a team deserving of the championship.

The defence of artisans is interesting for experts to watch, but it’s difficult for a wide range of people such as beginners to understand. The attitude of aiming for goals that is easy for anyone to understand is important even when considering the entire football world.

Full of entertainment is available in recent years, and football needs to continue to sustain its attractiveness that can compete with others. In that sense as well, Roberto Mancini and the Italian national team, who won the championship by playing offensive football throughout rather than focusing on victory and leaning defensive minded, should be highly evaluated.

Euro 2020 Knockout Stage

Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament

UEFA’s technical observers have selected 5 players from the champions Italy, which is the largest number, and 3 players from England, who were runners-up for the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament.

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy’s goalkeeper was named the Player of the Tournament after keeping clean sheets in all 3 matches of their group stage.

GK
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy: AC Milan)

DF
Kyle Walker (England: Manchester City)
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy: Juventus)
Harry Maguire (England: Manchester United)
Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy: Rome)

MF
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Denmark: Tottenham)
Jorginho (Italy: Chelsea)
Pedri (Spain: Barcelona)

FW
Federico Chiesa (Italy: Juventus)
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium: Inter Milan)
Raheem Sterling (England: Manchester City)

Euro 2020 Summary

Italy, who won Euro 2020, and England, who came runners-up, were highly rated before the tournament. World champions France and Belgium also had many talents.Portugal the defending European champions with  Cristiano Ronaldo were also a team to entertain the audiences. In this tournament, there were no absolute favourites for the championship, and their abilities were close.

Spain, who won 2 consecutive Euro tournaments in 2008 and 2012, were a notch above. Spain in this tournament were not highly rated before it started and they struggled a lot in the group stage, but they were still not the second best in ball possession skills even when they advanced to the knockout phase. It is hard to say that the Spanish national team is currently the best in the world or Europe, but the style of Spanish football will continue to be accepted as a global trend to a certain extent. One of the backgrounds is the recent rule changes.

By being able to receive a goal kick in the penalty area, the range of the ways to play may change greatly depending on whether or not you can build up from deep positions. The importance of build-up from defenders and goalkeepers was reaffirmed also in Euro 2020.

UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) somehow managed to complete a big project, the 60th Euro Tournament, which was co-sponsored by 11 countries while encountering a contrary wind of novel coronavirus crisis and battling against the spread of infection. It must have had considerable influences on the operation such as the number of spectators of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a major international sports competition held immediately after that.

Euro 2020 Best Goals

Euro 2020 All Goals

Author: Takuya Nagata. Amazon Profile

Novel writer, Creator. Traveled to Brazil and trained football at CFZ do Rio (Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva) in Rio de Janeiro. Played soccer for the Urawa Reds (Urawa Red Diamonds), one of the biggest football clubs in Japan, and toured to Europe. Retired at young and voyaged alone to England and graduated from UCA, the UK’s university. Established careers as journalist, football coach, consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Knowledgeable in creative and technology fields as well. Launched “MINIЯISM” (minirism), the art movement that contributes to the development of societies and the knowledge hub “The Minimalist.” The founder of “Propulsive Football” (PROBALL), the world’s first ever competitive mixed football facilitating diversity and spirits for equal participation of the society.
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