The long wait is over as the Euro 2020 tournament begins today, Friday, June 11th, with the opening match pitting Turkey against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
The event will be held in a number of different host nations across Europe.
The national stadium of England, Wembley, will host eight games in all, including the semi-finals and final.
Dublin was supposed to be a host city, but it had to drop out due of the Covid-19 outbreak.
London (Wembley) and Saint Petersburg were the beneficiaries of Dublin’s fixtures.
Bilbao was an initial host city as well, but Seville took its place for identical reasons.
- Group A (Matches played in Italy/Azerbaijan): Italy, Turkey, Wales, Switzerland
Italy is back at a major event after a long absence, and they are in a group alongside Wales, who will undoubtedly be battling Switzerland and Turkey for minor qualifying spots.
Italy, led by Roberto Mancini, won all ten of their qualifying matches.
Turkey is a rising power that has lately pulled off a few upset victories, this will be a true test for Wales and interim manager, Rob Page.
- Group B: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Russia
The team to beat is world number one Belgium, with Roberto Martinez’s squad aiming to become the country’s ‘golden generation”.
Their major rival appears to be Denmark, while dark horse, Russia proved themselves capable opponents in qualifying, placing second behind the Belgians. Teemu Pukki’s goals will be crucial in Finland’s bid for victory in their big tournament debut.
- Group C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia
With the Netherlands losing out in the previous two major championships, it has not been a nice time to be a fan in recent years.
Ronald Koeman left for Barcelona just as things were starting to look better, and now Frank de Boer is in control.
Outsiders Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia will be hopeful because of hisquestionable managing record, but the Dutch are in, by far the easiest group.
- Group D : England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic
This group has the old foes England and Scotland, which means a rematch of the Euro 96 classic, in which Paul Gascoigne scored one of the best goals in a major tournament history.
Croatia, who interrupted England’s dream-like run to the World Cup semi-finals three years ago, will also be a regular opponent.
The Czech Republic, which is improving, completes the group.
- Group E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia
Since winning the event in 2012, Spain has not had much of a say in major tournaments, but they seem to have re-invented themselves in recent years and may come close in this year’s edition.
Group E seems to be competitive, with Sweden and Poland both seeking to make an impact.
Slovakia, on the other hand, is no stranger to upsets, having reached the knockout stage in 2016.
This is one to keep an eye on.
- Group F: Hungary, Portugal, France, Germany
Group F is known as the “group of death” since it pits the winners of the past three major European championships against one another, with World Cup 2014 champions Germany, Euro 2016 champions Portugal, and World Cup 2018 champions France competing for first place.
With all eyes on Euro 2020, the curtain will be drawn today, fans and pundits across the world will be relieved to see the tournament’s screamers and shockers. Who will be the winner of this edition?