Friday, June 11, 2021

European Championships

The Euros kick off Friday after a one-year Covid postponement. The best European players, many from Premier League clubs, will be representing their countries in a 24-team tournament which will unfold over 51 individual matches in the next month. The July 11th final will be at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

England’s national team will field as many as six to seven starters from Premier League clubs and the team is one of the top betting favorites, along with France and Belgium, to capture the title. Perennial threats Spain, Germany, and Portugal also lurk as contenders to raise the trophy. England has fans excited by a plethora of options in attack led by captain Harry Kane, currently unhappy at Tottenham Hotspur, and rising young stars such as Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Chelsea’s Mason Mount. Other familiar Premier League faces in attack for England include Raheem Sterling of Manchester City and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United. It is on the back line and in goal where England could vulnerable. Center back Harry Maguire of Manchester United is trying to return from injury and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will need to be in good form. Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne hopes to soon be in Belgium’s line-up after recovering from facial injuries suffered in the Champions League final. Manager Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad will also include former Premier League stars Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois. Germany’s squad includes Chelsea products Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Antonio Rudger. Chelsea teammates N’golo Kante and Olivier Giroud will be trying to capture the title for France. Defending Euro champion Portugal will feature eight Premier League players including Manchester City center back and Premier League Player of the season Ruben Dias and Manchester United midfield star Bruno Fernandes. Spain will likely have Manchester United’s David de Gea in goal with Liverpool’s Thiago and Manchester City’s Rodri playing key midfield roles.

The tournament’s group stage is organized into six groups of four clubs. Group F is the tournament’s “Group of Death” as underdog Hungary is grouped with 2018 World Cup champion France, four-time World Cup winner Germany and defending European champions Portugal. England draws UK rival Scotland, 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia and the Czech Republic in Group D play. 

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