Warsaw, Poland – Scheduled to take place last summer before being postponed due to the Covid pandemic, the much anticipated Euro 2020 has finally begun over the weekend.
After Italy on Friday, Belgium on Saturday and England yesterday, it’s finally time for our four Central European nations to make their debut in the competition, and it all kicks off this afternoon with the Czech Republic taking on Scotland in Glasgow at 3pm.
Later in the afternoon, we’ll then be treated to our very own Central European “derby” when Poland and Slovakia face off in St Petersburg at 6pm.
Last to take the stage, Hungary will have to wait until tomorrow and their much anticipated clash against reigning European champions Portugal to start their European campaign.
What’s next? In a tough Group D, the Czech Republic will then face World Cup finalists Croatia on Friday before taking on heavy favourites England the following Tuesday, while in Group E, Poland and Slovakia will both hace to play Spain and Sweden.
Hungary, who have one of the most daunting tasks of the tournament, playing in the so-called “group of death”, will play the 2018 World Champions France on Saturday, followed by the 2014 World Champions Germany the following Wednesday.
Euro 2020, better than in 2016?
This is only the second time ever that all four Central European nations have qualified for the same European championship. It was already the case five years ago 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.
Can Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary do better this summer?
The odds as reported by SportsBettingDime for what people are still calling Euro 2020 see France (5/1), England (21/4), and #1-ranked Belgium (6/1) at the top of the board. But the history of the tournament is replete with longshots winning, Portugal was a +2200 bet in 2016, while Greece (2004) was even longer.
The viable longshots at this year’s tournament include reigning-champion Portugal (8/1), Netherlands (23/2), and Italy (23/2). The latter two are particularly enticing as they are in relatively weak groups for the first stage and will be playing on home soil. Berths in the knockout stage seem relatively secure.
The Euro 2020 will be held in 12 cities in 12 European countries; 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, on July 11.