Euro 2020: What you need to know about Europe's massive international soccer tournament
After a year's delay, the biggest international soccer tournament in Europe is nearly here.
It's going to be a summer chock-full of soccer, and there are plenty of questions about UEFA Euro 2020.
Here's what you need to know before the tournament kicks off Friday, with Turkey taking on Italy at 3 p.m. ET.
What is the Euro 2020 tournament?
Officially called the "2018–20 UEFA European Football Championship final tournament," that mouthful is traditionally pared down to "Euro 2020" or, even more succinctly, the "Euros."
This is the 16th edition of the tournament, which is designed to crown the top international team in all of Europe. After years of qualifying matches, we're down to the final 24 teams, broken into six groups of four for the group stage.
The groups are:
The six group winners and six runners-up will advance to the 16-team knockout stage, along with the four best third-place finishers across the groups. From there, it's single elimination until a champion is crowned.
Wait, why is it called Euro 2020 if it's being played in 2021?
The pandemic forced the tournament to be postponed to this summer.
UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe, said that in keeping the tournament as "Euro 2020," the organization was maintaining "the original vision of the tournament, which was set to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Football Championship."
Furthermore, a rebranding would have resulted in Euro 2020-branded material — which was produced prior to the postponement — being rendered useless. While it's odd to call the tournament "Euro 2020" in 2021, it does help from a sustainability aspect.
Speaking of the pandemic, new rules will be in place for this summer's edition of the tournament. To offset the possibility of teams being shorthanded due to positive COVID-19 tests and/or other health and safety protocols, including quarantines, squads were expanded to 26 players.
Only 23 players will be permitted for selection for each match, but the expanded rosters should help alleviate any concerns about being shorthanded if an issue arises.
Additionally, teams will be allowed to use five substitutes, with a sixth sub allowed if a match gets extended with extra time. The substitutions in regular time must be made within a maximum of three in-game stoppages, but halftime, full time and halftime in extra time breaks do not reduce the number of stoppages that can be used.
During extra time, a fourth stoppage is allowed.
Sounds fun! How can I watch?
For English-speaking viewers, the ESPN family of networks will broadcast the tournament on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. The matches can also be streamed on the ESPN and ABC apps.
Those who would prefer to watch the broadcast in Spanish can tune to Univision's TUDN for complete coverage or stream select matches via the PrendeTV app.
And, of course, there's always the option of heading to a pub or bar with access if you'd like a bit of atmosphere, but be sure everything is in accordance with laws regarding health and safety.
Where will it be held?
For the first time in the competition's 60-year history, the tournament is behind held all across Europe.
A total of 11 host cities will feature games. Those cities and stadiums are London, England (Wembley Stadium); Saint Petersburg, Russia (Saint Petersburg Stadium); Baku, Azerbaijan (Baku Olympic Stadium); Munich, Germany (Football Arena Munich); Rome, Italy (Stadio Olimpico); Amsterdam, Netherlands (Johann Cruijff Arena); Bucharest, Romania (National Arena Bucharest); Budapest, Hungary (Puskás Aréna); Copenhagen, Denmark (Parken Stadium); Glasgow, Scotland (Hampden Park); and Seville, Spain (Stadium La Cartuja Sevilla).
All of the aforementioned locations will host at least three group games and a knockout game, with London's iconic Wembley Stadium hosting the two semifinals and the final.
How long does it run?
The tournament lasts exactly one month, with the opening game Friday, June 11, and the final scheduled for Sunday, July 11.
Who are the favorites?
Portugal won the 2016 edition, but the oddsmakers at FOX Bet like the 2018 World Cup champions, France, the most out of the field. Les Bleus were priced at +450 to win the tournament as of Tuesday, with England (+550), Belgium (+600) and Spain (+800) next on the odds sheet.
Is there a "Group of Death"?
Take a look at Group F, which features the reigning European champion (Portugal) and the reigning World Cup champion (France). Then there's Germany, which has been to a record six finals and won three of them. The fourth team in Group F, Hungary, had its best result in 1964, when it finished third in the tournament.
Who are the biggest names?
Some of the biggest stars in world soccer will be on the field at Euro 2020. Cristiano Ronaldo will spearhead Portugal's title defense, alongside Man United midfield maestro Bruno Fernandes. France's roster boasts the effervescent Kylian Mbappe of Paris St. Germain and N'Golo Kante — fresh off a Champions League triumph with Chelsea — among its star-studded ranks.
And who could forget about Kevin de Bruyne pulling the strings for Belgium, combining with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard? Then there's England, with Harry Kane leading the line for the Three Lions and young phenom Phil Foden waiting to make a splash. Or how about Poland's Robert Lewandowski, who just set the Bundesliga record with 41 goals scored in a single season?
Suffice it to say, there's a bevy of talent to keep an eye on.
What should I watch early on?
First and foremost, Friday's opener (3 p.m. ET) features Turkey vs. Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The Italian government recently announced that fans will be allowed in the stands, so the atmosphere should be absolutely electric. Of note, fan attendance and capacity will vary depending on the city and venue and are subject to change.
As far as the rest of the first matchday goes, France vs. Germany at 3 p.m. ET June 15 is a must-see affair.
On the second matchday, there will be very little love lost as England takes on Scotland at 3 p.m. ET June 18 in London. Spain vs. Poland at 3 p.m. ET the following day should be a pivotal matchup between Lewandowski and Spain's backline.
As the group stage comes to a close, Belgium could be in position to win its group against Finland — a minnow of Group B making their first appearance at the tournament — at 3 p.m. ET June 21.
Then, the Group of Death matchup between Portugal and France at 3 p.m. June 23 makes for a mouthwatering capper.
Can I wager on the tournament?
FOX Bet has a laundry list of wagers that can be made, including which team will win it all and how the groups will shake out.
There are player props, award wagers and even funkier props, such as the total amount of penalties scored, the total amount of goals scored and a whole lot more.
Check out FOX Bet to see all of the offerings!
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