The first match of Euro 2020 soccer tournament is set to kick off today with Italy and Turkey taking the field at 3:00 P.M.
The tournament, set to take place over the next month until the final on July 11th, is an important comeback for international football, and a hopeful sign of a return to massive sporting events.
It was announced on March 17. 2020 that the tournament would be postponed to the following year as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The delay has allowed for much of the tournament to function as was originally planned, but with a more limited number of spectators in various host cities.
Unlike in previous years, there was no designated host country that all the games would be played in. Instead, UEFA president Michel Platini decided on a multi-nation format designed to celebrate the history of the tournament for its 60th anniversary.
The month-long tournament boasts some of the best national teams in the world. Of the top 10 ranked teams worldwide, seven of them are European squads, with Belgium taking the consensus top ranked spot according to FIFA. Though England and France have been given higher chances of winning the tournament by oddsmakers.
The defending champs Portugal, have been placed in Group F, what many are calling the “Group of Death.” The name is given to the group in every tournament that fields the highest level of competition.
This year, that group boasts the two most recent World Cup champions, France and Germany. It’s also home to the probable odd team out, Hungary.
Despite the level of competition, these tournaments always come with their fair share of surprises. Only five years ago, England was knocked out by what was considered a rather lowly Iceland team.
So it’s a valid question to ask, what surprises are bound to take place over the next month, and what team will be crowned champions of Europe?
SOURCES: BLEACHERREPORT.COM, CBC.CA, UEFA.COM, FIFA.COM, THEGUARDIAN.COM