The 2020 European Championships were set to commence today.
The 60th anniversary of the continental tournament promised to be something special with games held across 12 host cities in the biggest ever celebration of Europe’s footballing heritage.
However, the coronavirus pandemic forced UEFA to postpone the competition until next year and fans will have to wait until June 11, 2021, for the long-awaited tournament to get underway.
As much as we would all love Euro 2020 to be commencing right now, it goes without saying that moving the competition back a year was the correct decision.
First and foremost, it’s the safe thing to do in order to protect the health of players, staff, media and more, especially with the tournament due to span several countries.
Euro 2020 postponed
But even if you put that most critical of issues aside, it just wouldn’t have been the same seeing top-level international football played in front of thousands of empty seats.
It’s been strange enough adapting to the Bundesliga and now La Liga being played behind closed doors, never mind a competition only dwarfed by the FIFA World Cup itself.
Hopefully the COVID-19 situation will have been resolved this time next year and it will be safe for football fans to get the full experience of a cross-continent European Championships.
Looking forward to 2020
And on that note, let’s turn to the positives and look forward to the delayed tournament for the fact it’s now less than a year away.
Games are due to be hosted in: London, Munich, Rome, Baku, Saint Petersburg, Budapest, Dublin, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Bilbao, Glasgow and Copenhagen.
Twenty-four teams will be competing for the trophy currently held by Portugal across six groups, followed by a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final at Wembley Stadium.
England find themselves in Group D with Croatia, Czech Republic and whoever will emerge victorious from play-off pool C: Scotland, Israel, Serbia or Norway.
The other groups go as follows:
Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales and Switzerland
Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium and Russia
Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria and play-off winner D or A
Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland and play-off winner B
Group F: Portugal, France, Germany and play-off winner A or D
So, yes, those blockbuster ties might not be starting today as we might have liked, but find solace in the fact we have back-to-back years of international tournaments on the horizon.
Nothing would feel quite as uplifting after the struggles of 2020 than a European Championship and World Cup in consecutive years.
- Gerrard voted better footballer than Lampard
- 11 players answer: Gerrard vs Lampard vs Scholes
- FIFA 20 stats settle Gerrard vs Lampard vs Scholes