Euro 2020 may have been delayed a year but the tournament has lost none of its importance as the continent’s leading nations compete for one of the most prestigious prizes in football. The expanded 24-team tournament gets underway on June 11 as Roberto Mancini’s Italy meet Turkey in Rome, and concludes on July 11 at Wembley. Mancio will hope the Azzurri are involved then too.
Italy are among the favourites to be celebrating in London, along with England, France and Belgium. Holders Portugal, including Cristiano Ronaldo, can’t be discounted either and Spain and Germany are heavyweight presences too. Then there are the dark horses, and arguably none are more dangerous than Croatia – second place in the World Cup just three years ago.
Euro 2020 has the unusual format of being played across Europe, intended to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition, which was first held in France in 1960. The coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected the staging of the tournament, but all stadiums should have limited numbers of fans present for games, and Budapest – which hosts games in Group F and a Round of 16 fixture – is set to be at full capacity.
On the pitch, much is expected of 2018 World Cup winners France, Belgium’s talent-packed squad and England, who qualified in style. Kylian Mbappe, Serie A title-winner Romelu Lukaku and in-demand striker Harry Kane could be some of the stars of the competition.
As for Italy, qualifying with 10 wins from 10 games has bred hope that Mancini can mastermind a first international trophy since the 2006 World Cup, and a first European Championships win since 1968. The coach’s 26-man squad has quality and depth, experience and potential, and will be on home soil for throughout the group stage.
With 51 games to be played before the champions of Europe can be crowned, Football Italia has a comprehensive preview guide on the who, why, where and how of Euro 2020.