The European Football Championship kicks off Friday after being postponed for a year due to the repercussions of the Corona virus, as Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to defend the Portuguese title, and France is looking for a second double in its history after winning the World Cup in Russia 2018.
France, with its attacking fleet, appears to be a strong candidate for its third continental title after 1984 and 2000, in a tournament held in 11 European cities, although the team fears the group of death surprises, while world-ranked Belgium and England stand out with their young faces.
For the first time in history, the finals will be held in 11 European cities, instead of one or two countries as usual, despite the challenges posed by the Corona pandemic. a
The Spanish cities of Bilbao and Ireland’s Dublin will be excluded, for their inability to provide guarantees that meet the requirements of the European Union (UEFA) to accommodate a limited number of spectators, but Seville presented solutions instead of its citizenship, while Dublin matches were distributed between London and St. Petersburg.
Rome cuts the bar on Friday, when Italy plays Turkey at the Olympic Stadium in front of 16,000 spectators. France, the last runner-up, is waiting until Tuesday to start its matches with a fiery match against Germany, the three-time champion, in Munich.
“All countries envy us,” said its young striker, Kylian Mbappe, with the Roosters owning an attacking line that includes Antoine Griezmann and returning Karim Benzema. Attention will be focused on Benzema, 33, returning after a five-year denial following a sex tape scandal with his colleague Matteo Valbuena, but his continued brilliance with Real Madrid embarrassed coach Didier Deschamps, who called him again.
France’s strength is not limited to its offensive line, and N’Golo Kante, the candidate for the Golden Ball award, stands out after his great brilliance in leading Chelsea to the Champions League title.
France hopes to achieve a new historic double, after the first when it won the World Cup in 1998 and then the European Cup in 2000. As for Germany, it hopes to erase the disappointment of exclusion from the group stage in the World Cup in Russia, as coach Joachim Loew, in his last career with the Mannschaft, re-summoned the striker. Thomas Muller and defender Mats Hummels, after they were partly responsible for the World Cup failure.
The defending champions Portugal and Hungary complete a sixth “death” group, which is the strongest in the finals, consisting of 24 teams. Despite his thirty-sixth birthday, Ronaldo, Juventus’ top scorer, is still in his prime, and his country’s squad is full of stars such as Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Ruben Diach.
England has the advantage of holding the semi-final and final matches at home at Wembley Stadium in London, while Italy and the Netherlands want to return to the scene after a frustrating absence from the World Cup Russia 2018.
England captain and top scorer Harry Kane believes that his country will start the European Cup in a “better position” than it was before the last World Cup, in which it reached the semi-finals.
The striker, who wants to leave Tottenham after a long period in his ranks, in which he did not win any title, said: “I think we are more experienced, our players have played big matches with their clubs in addition to the World Cup.”
The last World Cup scorer who wants to give England its second big title after the 1966 World Cup continued: We haven’t won any title for a long time, so we need a good mentality, because the championship journey is long and difficult. As the European continent catches its breath from the repercussions of Corona, with the progress of vaccination levels, the European Union allowed the teams to raise the number of their lists from 23 to 26 players, in anticipation of new injuries.
Officials of the Spanish national team, the three-time champion, announced this week the preparation of a “reserve” team from 17 reserves, after Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente were infected with Corona. Swedes, striker Dejan Koloshevsky and midfielder Matthias Svanberg were also injured. But despite the health challenges, the president of the Slovenian Confederation, Aleksandar Ceferin, insisted that the tournament would be safe, and he continued: It would be the first world championship to be held since the start of the pandemic.
He continued: It would be a perfect opportunity to confirm that Europe is adapting, Europe is alive and celebrates life, Europe is back. The best of the tournament could come from the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where the Puskas Arena is expected to fill up.
Each host city will receive fans at varying rates between 25% and 100%, with the exception of Munich, which aims to receive 14,500 spectators as a minimum, about 22% of its capacity.