Euro 2020 draws to a close with the final
Sunday:MOTD Live: UEFA Euro 2020 & UEFA Euro 2020 Live; (BBC One, 7pm) & (ITV, 7pm)
They say good things come to those who wait.
And when the 2020 edition of football’s European Championships was postponed last summer, fans were left to bide their time, hoping that the tournament could go ahead in the near future. The rescheduled competition has thankfully been played over the past month – and it has not disappointed, with many of us devouring the feast of international football which has been held in 11 cities.
Italy and Turkey kicked it all off on a Friday night at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, with the hosts triumphing 3-0. And since then, we have witnessed shocks aplenty, history-making performances, spectacular strikes, calamitous own goals and an extremely distressing medical emergency, which thankfully had a happy ending. Before the tournament kicked off, there was an air of optimism for all three of the Home Nations taking part.
Steve Clarke’s Scotland were at a major tournament for the first time in 23 years; Robert Page’s Wales were looking to emulate their heroics in 2016 when they made it all the way to the semi-finals; and Gareth Southgate’s England were tipped by many to go far.
Sadly the Scots, didn’t make it past the group stage, despite outplaying their Auld Enemy England and holding them to a 0-0 draw at Wembley Stadium.
Wales did make it to the knockout stages, but came up short against a rampant Denmark side, losing 4-0 in the last 16. And as for England, they were criticised by some for being too defensive, even though they topped Group D without conceding a goal.
Next, they came up against Germany, their conquerers in Euro 96 at Wembley Stadium 25 years previously. The game proved to be tense affair, with England eventually prevailing thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, and securing their first tournament knockout win over Germany since 1966.
Three Lions fans finally started believing England could go all the way, and with many of the so-called ‘big teams’ bowing out of the competition early, the path appeared to be wide open for Southgate’s talented team. So as the final takes place tonight, will the 80,000-strong crowd at Wembley Stadium be cheering on the Three Lions? If so, expect the place to be bouncing.
As is now the norm with major international tournaments, fans at home will have the choice of watching the game on BBC with Gary Lineker and co, or over on ITV with Mark Pougatch and his guests.
In this game five years ago, Portugal overcame the early loss of captain Cristiano Ronaldo to beat hosts France and win their first major title.
Substitute Eder’s superb extra-time strike proved enough after Real Madrid forward Ronaldo was carried off in tears at the Stade de France with an injury.
Ronaldo, who had given his Portugal team-mates animated encouragement in the break before extra time, was offering as much tactical advice as coach Fernando Santos in the chaotic closing moments – and he was reduced to tears once more at the final whistle before lifting the trophy.
If the thought of the Euros ending tonight is almost enough to make you cry, then there is hope on the horizon.
The start of the Premier League season is under five weeks away, while the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will begin in less than 500 days.
Not long to wait at all.
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