Sorry everyone, France is gonna win.
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What are we calling it? UEFA Euro 2020? The European Championships 2021? Either way, the second biggest international soccer tournament is almost upon us. It’s time to get excited.
Will Kylian Mbappe lead tournament favorites France to an inevitable victory? Will Harry Kane drag England to its first major international trophy since 1966?
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Will Andy “the best LB in the world” Robertson lead Scotland out of the group stages for the first time in history? That’s this beleaguered writer’s hope, but look. We have to be realistic here.
Here’s everything you need to know about the UEFA European Championships.
What is the UEFA European Championships?
This seems like a good place to start.
The UEFA European Championships is similar to a World Cup that only European teams can enter. It’s a tournament where international teams — Italy, France, England, Spain etc. — compete for a month in a competition that starts out in group stages, but progresses to a knockout phase and, ultimately, a final to decide the best team in Europe.
Like the World Cup it takes place every four years, so the stakes are high.
When does it start?
The first match, between Turkey and Italy, takes place on Friday, June 11, 2021. Following that you’ll be able to watch a ton more matches. Just an incredible amount of soccer. The tournament will end in a final that takes place on July 11, 2021.
How to watch?
In the US, ESPN and Univision have the rights to the UEFA European Championships. ESPN is televising 39 matches from the tournament and ESPN 2 is televising seven.
In the UK, you can watch for free on BBC and ITV, providing you have a TV license. Fans in the UK have become increasingly accustomed to having to pay Sky or BT Sport to watch soccer, not so with the UEFA European Championships.
In Australia, your best bet is to subscribe to Optus Sport. Personally, as a person living in Australia, I subscribe to Optus Sport. It not only gives you access to the UEFA European Championships, it gives you full access to the English Premier League, the Champions League and the Europa League. It’s a great, simple service. I love it.
Which teams have qualified?
England will pin its hopes on Harry Kane.
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Here are the teams taking part and their initial groups.
Each team in every group plays each other once, with the top two teams in each group guaranteed progress into the knockout stages. The four best performing teams in third position also make it through to the quarter finals, just to complicate things further.
Group AItalySwitzerlandTurkeyWalesGroup BBelgiumDenmarkFinlandRussiaGroup CAustriaNetherlandsNorth MacedoniaUkraineGroup DCroatiaCzech RepublicEnglandScotlandGroup EPolandSlovakiaSpainSwedenGroup FFrance GermanyHungaryPortugalWhat matches should I watch?
Kylian Mbappe is arguably the best player in the world right now.
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You can check out the full match schedule here. But here’s a few must-watch matches from the group stages. It goes without saying that you’ll want to stay tuned the second it hits the knockout stages.
France vs. Germany
This match takes place on June 15. Massive rivalry between two of Europe’s strongest international teams.
England vs. Scotland
England vs. Scotland is one of the oldest rivalries in soccer history. England will be favored, of course, but this will be a crazy match. Takes place June 18.
Portugal vs. France
Both these teams played in the 2016 finals and both have incredible squads in 2021. You’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann… the list goes on. These are the very best players in the world, bar none. Takes place June 23.
Who are the favourites?
Odds fluctuate of course, but France and England are the current favorites at 5/1. Belgium are 6/1 and both Germany and Spain are 9/1. Portugal are 10/1 and Italy at 11/1 is a great bet. Italy hasn’t lost in a long time and is traditionally strong in big international tournaments.
But look, it’s France’s tournament to lose. They have the current best player in the world in Kylian Mbappe alongside a ludicrous squad that features Griezmann, Pogba, Benzema, Kante, Dembele and more. It’s absolutely ridiculous. England may be joint favourites, but the English Premier League has just concluded a long, grueling season and the English team looks spent. Belgium are great, as are Portugal and Italy, but France are just phenomenal in every position.