EURO 2020 at Mr Green
It’s EURO 2020, so what’s that all about and why should you even care?
Well, dear reader… it’s time to lace up your football boots because we’re about to embark on a month-long journey across Europe’s pitches, where the pride of 24 nations will compete to raise the trophy as this year’s European Champions.
Whether you’re joining the jet-setters and heading to the sun-soaked streets of Seville or bathing in the balmy salt air of Baku, or you’re just enjoying all the action from the comfort of your sofa, join us for a look at what all the fuss is about and what to look out for during EURO 2020.
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Wait, there’s a EUROs tournament?
Yes, the European football championships are held every 4 years. It first started in 1960 and for the next 20 years, featured 4 qualifying teams competing for the Henri Delaunay Trophy. This was a particularly historic tournament with the Soviet Union becoming the first winner after beating Yugoslavia 2 – 1 in Paris.
Between 1980 and the present day, the contest has grown both in scale and teams, featuring teams from the former Soviet bloc, growing from 8 to 24 sides and structured around group stages, Rounds of 16, Quarters and Semi-Finals before the big one.
It has also given us some exciting developments in European football like Greece’s shock victory over the host nation Portugal in EURO 2004 or Spain’s successful title streak between 2008 and 2012.
There are 24 teams competing in the Group Stages, 4 teams per group from Group A – F. Among the groups are a mix of past winners as well as national teams that have only qualified for the first time.
For the two dozen teams that have qualified for EURO 2020, there are two national teams that have made it into the contest the first time in their history; Finland and North Macedonia.
The Finnish national team has so far had little in the way of success reaching the qualifying stage or further, in a major international football tournament. While their footballing skills have been honed largely within the Nordic region, their decisive 3 – 0 victory over Liechtenstein in late 2019, cemented their qualification into EURO 2020.
Who to watch? Teemu Pukki: the 31-year-old Finnish international and Norwich City striker has scored 30 goals wearing the national jersey and 10 of the 16 goals that qualified them for the current tournament. That’s in addition to the 11 his scored with his club.
Finland face a tough opening game as they open Group B against fellow Norsemen, Denmark, at Parken Stadium, Copenhagen. Denmark are past winners of the tournament, raising the trophy in 1992.
This will also be the first time that North Macedonia has played in the European Championship. Despite facing a streak of tough games during the UEFA Nations League, the national team secured their chances of a EURO 2020 playoff.
Finishing third in their group and after overcoming both Kosovo and then Georgia, North Macedonia’s historic route to EURO 2020, their first major tournament, was reached.
Who to watch? Goran Pandev: the 37-year-old Genoa forward and North Macedonia’s captain. Pandev is currently the country’s all-time top goalscorer with 37 goals in his national jersey and 11 with his club side. In total, he’s scored over 100 goals since 2000.
It’s not just Pandev… eyes are also on 21-year-old Eljif Elmas. The Napoli Midfielder scored 4 of the national team’s qualifying goals.
Just like Finland, North Macedonia will be opening Group C with their match against Austria. This will be their first ever meeting at the European Championship and it’ll set the tone for North Macedonia’s performance in the contest. Furthermore, they’re also sharing fixtures with the Netherlands and Ukraine.
Who is returning?
The big boys of the European Championship are also making their presence felt, among them past winners that have shaped the contest from its beginnings in 1960.
Three-time winners Germany prepare for their 13th EURO appearance, this time on home turf in Munich. Expectations are high for the ‘Mannschaft’ and it’ll be particularly ‘lecker’ if they can seal the win just as their manager Joachim Löw prepares to bow out as the captain of Der Schiff (ship).
Germany is in Group F and their opening game is against France.
Germany’s biggest rivals in major international tournaments, France has tended to perform slightly better. France have been unbeaten against Germany since losing 1 – 0 to the Mannschaft in the 2014 tournament in Brazil. France’s manager, Didier Deschamps’ squad includes members of the 2018 winning team, including Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and the shock inclusion of Karim Benzema, who hasn’t played for France since 2015.
France previously won the EUROs in 1984 and 2000.
Another stalwart of the EUROs is Spain. It’ll be their 11th EURO appearance since the tournament was created and they’ll be keen to add a 4th trophy win after their first in 1964 and the streak of 2008 and 2012. ‘La Furia Roja’ looked impressive in their qualifying games, cruising to EURO 2020 with 8 victories and 2 draws.
Spain will start their tournament against Sweden in the balmy Andalusian evening air of Seville.
Who are the favourites?
France are favourites for this year’s EUROs. Pundits reckon that while it would be easy to say that they will succeed because of their performance in 2018, Deschamps has managed to put together a 26-man powerhouse of talent. From Benzema to Mbappe and Griezmann, they stand the best chance of clinching the title for a third time.
It’s important not to discount other national squads that could shock and surprise over this month. Narrowly behind the favourites is England. While England has only so far managed to make it to the Semi-finals of the EUROs twice (1968/1996), their surprising success at the international tournament in Russia, has some pundits excited for the EUROs. England was knocked out by Croatia in 2018.
Mr Green has an Outright Winner on France to win EURO 2020 at odds of 5.60, while England has odds of 7.00. You can check out all Mr Green’s odds for EURO 2020 HERE.
What are the fixtures?
There are 11 nations sharing the contest fixtures. Cities like Seville, Munich and Baku are playing host to Group Stage, Round of 16 and Quarter Final games before it all concludes with the final at Wembley Stadium in London.
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