UEFA Euro 2020

UEFA Euro 2020 (yes, 2020): Key predictions & the historic rivalry to watch

What you need to know about the mammoth European soccer tournament kicking off on Friday.

This month’s edition of the 1st Half is dedicated to the Euros, or the Euro 2020 — postponed from last summer, the tournament is still called Euro 2020 even though it’s happening in 2021, so don’t be confused by the branding. The Euros are about to kick off on Friday, June 11, with the final a month later on July 11.

When writing about a sport, you try and be as objective as possible and focus on the big picture — unfortunately I won’t be doing that.

Before we get to the Euros, I am going to start with this: Chelsea Football Club are the Champions of Europe! That’s right, the Champions of Europe (at least until the Euros start.)

It has been nine years since Chelsea last won the Champions League. 

This year CFC went up against arguably the strongest Club in the premier league landscape, Manchester City, who just won the domestic league itself. With plenty of time to get ready for this match-up, Chelsea showed up and beat them.

It was a shock to my system when it was all said and done. The Blues are my team, so I just can’t be partial about this. 

What a ride and what a win.

There is a lot more football news to go over, like managers being fired or quitting big clubs, teams being relegated and promoted, but I will have to wait to talk about all that in July and August.

The UEFA Euro 2020 (yes, 2020) kicks off on Friday

Now about the Euros. The tournament consists of 24 teams, broken up into six groups, with one of those groups, as always, being dubbed “the Group of Death.”

This year we have a fantastic Group of Death.

16 teams will progress to the knockout stages, with the top two of each group and the four best third-place teams going onwards. All the usual suspects are presented and present. We have Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Scotland, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia, Switzerland, Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine, North Macedonia (yes, North Macedonia) and Wales.

This summer’s tournament will be hosted in 11 different cities, with England, Germany, Italy, Russia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Holland, Spain, Hungary, Scotland and Denmark all participating in this spectacle. (…super-spreader events, anyone?)

I won’t get into all the groups but the one to look out for is indeed the Group of Death, Group F, which consists of Germany, France Portugal and Hungary. That is definitely the Group to watch.

Now my beloved England are in Group D. They will be battling it out against Croatia and the Czech Republic, but the big one, of historic importance, is England vs. Scotland on June 18.

The England vs. Scotland football rivalry is one of the oldest in sport.

It was first played in 1872. The last time these two teams met in a match of importance was for the 2018 World Cup qualifications which saw them draw 2–2. It has taken Scotland 22 years to qualify for a major tournament.

The game between England and Scotland is going to be extremely juicy — there is no other way to describe it.

Now, let’s have a little fun: I’m going to name the winners of group A-B-C-D-E & F so that it’s on paper and I can either look back and say “I did it right!” (and “I should have placed bets”), or I will say, “Dear God, don’t ever make a prediction again.”

So here goes:

Group A: Italy and Switzerland will go through.

Group B: Belgium and Denmark will go through.

Group C: Netherlands and Ukraine will go through.

Group D: England and Croatia will go through

Group E: Spain and Sweden go through.

Group F (the Group Death): France and Portugal will go through.

I will predict further outcomes in the Euro 2020 tournament in the first week of July.

Enjoy the hot, hot days and the hot, hot football that’s about to kick off.

“The first 90 minutes are the most important.”

Sir Robert William ‘Bobby’ Robson

For the UEFA Euro 2020 schedule and more details, please visit the tournament’s website. Check out The 1st Half podcast (about soccer and football culture in Montreal and beyond) here.

For more Montreal soccer and other sports coverage, please visit our Sports section.