Prague, Czech Republic – The national football teams of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary are getting ready to start their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers, with tough games ahead.
Tonight, Slovakia and Hungary, both in Group E, will face-off in Trnava in a 100% Central European contest, before respectively playing Wales and World Cup finalists Croatia on Sunday.
In the meantime, carrying the highest chances of qualifying, Robert Lewandowski’s Poland, who failed miserably at the World Cup, will play Austria – Central Europe or not Central Europe, that is the question, before hosting Latvia on Sunday in Group G. Robert Lewandowski, who recently became the highest-scoring foreign player of all time in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top football league, will undoubtedly try to make amends for Poland’s premature exit in Russia last summer.
In Group A, the Czech Republic will play World Cup semi-finalists England in London on Friday, before playing a friendly against Brazil in Prague on Tuesday in a rematch of the 1962 World Cup final which saw the Seleção beat Czechoslovakia 3-1.
Here’s a recap’ of the key dates for Central European teams’ Euro 2020 qualifiers:
Thursday: Austria – Poland (20:45); Slovakia – Hungary (20:45)
Friday: England – Czech Republic (20:45)
Sunday: Wales – Slovakia (15:00); Hungary – Croatia (18:00); Poland – Latvia (20:45)
For the first time ever, all four Central European teams had qualified for the 2016 edition in France with Poland going the furthest in the competition and losing on penalties in the quarter-finals to future winners Portugal.
Despite surprisingly finishing top of their group above Iceland, Portugal and Austria, underdog Hungary, whose tracksuit-wearing 40-year-old goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly was the oldest player ever to appear in a European Championship, lost 4-0 to Belgium in the round of 16. Slovakia lost to 3-0 to Germany while the Czech Republic didn’t even make it out of the group stage.
The Euro 2020 is scheduled to be held in 12 cities in 12 European countries from 12 June to 12 July 2020; namely London, Rome, Munich, Baku, Dublin, Saint Petersburg, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Bilbao… and Budapest! The Hungarian capital’s 68,000-seat Puskás Aréna will host three group games and one round of 16 game.
Wembley Stadium in London is planned to host the semi-finals and final, while the opening match will take place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.