Euro 2020 was held under the auspices of UEFA and was the 16th European Championship. The tournament celebrated the 60th anniversary of the European Championship and was held in 11 cities in 11 UEFA countries, making it the second major international tournament after the 2007 Asian Cup with more than two host countries. Euro 2020 was notable not only for the inconsistency of the year it was chosen and held, but also unique structure, high performance, and low number of matches without goals scored. The referees were also praised for their good work and the effective use of VAR. Today we will remember the entire history of the tournament, tell you where Euro 2020 took place, and who won.
The idea of holding a pan-European tournament was proposed by Michel Platini, UEFA president at the time. The proposal was a response to financial difficulties, including the European debt crisis, and was intended to mark the tournament’s 60th anniversary uniquely. The concept was controversial due to the expansion of the competition format, increasing the number of matches from 31 to 51 and the participating teams from 16 to 24, which entailed additional costs. The qualifying tournament for Euro 2020 was held in the traditional format.
The UEFA Executive Committee made the final decision on the selection of host cities on 19 September 2014. From 19 applications, including group stages, quarter-finals, and 1/8 finals, 12 cities were initially selected. However, some cities were subsequently excluded from the list.
EURO 2020 covered 11 cities in 11 different UEFA countries. The 16th European Championship was organized by the Union of European Football Associations UEFA Euro 2020 was originally scheduled from June 12 to July 12, 2020, but due to the global coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 was postponed to the first 2 summer months of 2021. Despite the shift, the event retained the name «Euro 2020», becoming the first tournament in the history of football with a discrepancy between the year it was held and the official name.
This championship was held in several cities across Europe to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European national team tournament. Notable venues included the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, where the opening match was held, and Wembley Stadium in London, chosen to host the semi-finals and final match. The number of venues was eventually cut from the originally planned 13 to 11 after Brussels and Dublin were excluded, with the latter dropped due to uncertainty over fan attendance amid the pandemic.
Euro 2020, which was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, included 24 participants.
The official Euro 2020 Adidas Uniforia ball featured a predominantly white design with vibrant pink, yellow, and blue graphics that included black brush strokes and neon blue, yellow, and pink stripes. The logos on the ball were made in black.
Developed by Adidas, this ball has undergone rigorous testing to ensure its suitability for professional football matches. It had exceptional flight stability, predictable bounce off the grass surface, and high wear resistance. The Uniforia Euro 2020 used the same panel structure and materials as the Telstar ball for the 2018 World Cup. Its presentation took place in November 2019.
There was little intrigue in Group A, because Italy confidently advanced from first place, but Wales and Switzerland fought for second and scored 4 points, but both reached the playoffs. Türkiye remained the main disappointment of Euro 2020.
Group B brought Belgium 3 wins out of 3, the other teams scored 3 points each and only Denmark advanced further due to a better goal difference. Russia and Finland were left out of the tournament. There was also little intrigue in Group C, the Netherlands confidently came out in first place, Austria in second, and Ukraine qualified as a «lucky loser».
In Group D, England confidently advanced to the next stage, while the Czech Republic and Croatia were debating the issue of the second spot, but in the end both qualified, with the Croats moving from second place thanks to their victory in the last round over Scotland. In Group E, Sweden sensationally emerged from the first line, and Spain – from the second. Slovakia and Poland traditionally failed. Group F was the most interesting, France qualified without any questions, but Portugal and Germany fought for second place and both advanced. The matches Germany - Portugal (4:2) and Portugal - Hungary (3:3) with Ronaldo’s hat-trick were included in the list of the best.
In the ⅛ finals, the main sensation was the defeat of the French team by Switzerland with a score of 3:1. What was unexpected was the Czech Republic’s victory over the Netherlands (2:0) and England’s confident revenge against Germany after their defeat at the 2010 World Cup (2:0). The best match of the tournament took place in the confrontation between Croatia and Spain (5:3 victory for the Furies in overtime). The quarter-finals will be remembered for the great match between Belgium and Italy (winner of Mancini’s team with a score of 2:1). In the semi-finals, both matches ended outside of regular time, Italy defeated Spain in a penalty shootout (4:2), and England beat the Danes in overtime thanks to Kane. This is how England reached the Euro 2020 final for the first time in its history.
In the European Championship final between England and Italy, the Three Lions were trying to win their first major trophy since 1966, but the Italians were not going to concede. The match began with a lively atmosphere at Wembley Stadium, where Luke Shaw scored after two minutes, marking the earliest goal in European Championship final history.
England, led by Gareth Southgate, reverted to the three-at-the-back tactic that won them the last-16 win over Germany and made changes to the squad, replacing Bukayo Saka with Kieran Trippier. However, Italy, unbeaten in their last 33 matches, gradually found their game and endured a difficult moment after the injury of midfield leader Jorginho, who had earlier scored the decisive strike in the semi-final against Spain and continued to play.
Italy equalized in the 67th minute thanks to a goal from Leonardo Bonucci, setting up a tense ending with Chiellini’s legendary foul on Saka. After extra time, the teams were still unable to find a winner.
The fate of the championship was decided in a penalty shootout. Harry Kane and Harry Maguire hit their spot-kicks perfectly for England, while Jordan Pickford saved Andrea Belotti’s effort. However, Italy made no mistakes and Berardi, Bonucci and Bernardeschi all successfully scored their shots. Pickford’s heroic save from Jorginho did not save England as Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bucauyo Saka failed to score and England suffered a disappointing defeat at Wembley Stadium. Italy became the champion!
At Euro 2020, Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo and Czech Patrik Schick topped the list of who’s the best Euro 2020 goal scorer, each scoring 5 goals in the tournament. Ronaldo became the best forward of the 2020 European Football Championship, ahead of Schick in the number of assists (1 versus 0). The legend of world football spent fewer minutes on the field (360 versus 404).
The Portugal captain not only surpassed the record of the legendary Michel Platini by scoring 11 goals at the European Championships but also became the oldest player to score for Portugal at a major tournament.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Euro 2020 was well received, noted as the tournament with the highest number of goals per game in a European Championship since the introduction of the group stage. The tournament also marked the first time video assistant referee (Euro 2020 VAR) technology has been used at a European Championship, the use of which and the overall style of refereeing have been praised for quick and effective decision-making. Euro 2020 results stand out in football history not only for its innovative multi-nation format but also for its success in overcoming the unprecedented challenges presented by the global pandemic. The launch of the new EURO 2020 format has entailed massive changes in all football tournaments under the auspices of UEFA.
Several teams at EURO 2020 did not live up to expectations. The Turkish national team lost all three matches in the group stage, scoring only one goal. The Russian team conceded seven goals in matches against Denmark and Belgium. Poland, although they easily qualified for the playoffs, also disappointed, failing to overcome the group barrier for the 4th time in a row. And already in the playoffs France and the Netherlands were greatly surprised. The Netherlands team, playing without Virgil van Dijk, unexpectedly lost to the Czech Republic without a chance 0:2. And the French team missed out on victory, leading 3:1 in the second half against not-very-powerful Switzerland.
At UEFA Euro 2020, in the match between Denmark and Finland, attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen lost consciousness on the touchline for no apparent reason in the 35th minute. Eriksen was given emergency medical treatment on the field, including CPR. Thanks to the quick response of the medical team, his condition stabilized and he was taken to hospital for further treatment and observation. Following the Euro 2020 incident, Christian Eriksen was fitted with a pacemaker to prevent similar health problems in the future. After recovery, Eriksen resumed his football career. In 2022, he moved to Manchester United, continuing to play at a high level despite the incident.
In qualifying for Euro 2020, many teams showed excellent results, finishing first in their groups. Among them were Belgium, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, France and England. Croatia and Germany also took first places. The top scorers in the Euro 2020 qualifiers were England’s Harry Kane with 12 goals, and Israel’s Eran Zahavi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 11 goals each. Also worth noting are Teemu Pukki from Finland and Aleksandar Mitrovic from Serbia, who scored 10 goals each.
Euro 2024 begins with automatic qualification for Germany as host country and a qualification process for 20 teams. The three remaining spots will be up for grabs in a 12-team playoff based on their performances in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League. Teams will be divided into four pots based on their performance in qualifying and placed in 6 groups (A to F). Germany already holds the A1 position in Group A. The tournament will consist of 24 teams that will compete in the group stage. The first 2 teams from each group, as well as the four losers who took 3rd place, will advance to the 1/8 finals, and then there will be an elimination stage until the final.