It’s been a long time coming, but at last the waiting is almost over. Euro 2020 gets underway on 13 June 2021. It sounds bizarre, but UEFA were insistent on keeping the 2020 tag, as it signifies 60 years of tournament history.
It’s a history that has seen 15 tournaments, 12 hosts and 10 winners, three of which are countries that no longer even exist. So before we get completely engrossed in the present day action, let’s take a look in the rear view mirror at some of the most memorable moments and some key statistics from the past 60 years.
Spain – the Euro specialists
Ask the bookmakers, and you’ll be told that England are favourites for success with EM betting odds of 5/1 currently being quoted. That’s all very logical, they are a young and talented team, they are full of confidence and they will have home field advantage for key encounters. But when you look beyond the favourites, the football sages will always say that you can’t rule out Spain.
A glance at the history books tells you why. Here’s a team that has consistently overachieved in the European Championship. The only team ever to win back-to-back events, they also won a third title in 1964 and were runners up in 1984.
Ronaldo – the ever-present
Cristiano Ronaldo is a unique footballing talent, and that’s underlined by the records he holds in the European Championship. In 2016, Portugal’s win was all the more remarkable as Ronaldo had to watch from the sidelines. Yet despite his absence from the latter stages, he has still played in more matches in this tournament than any other player.
When he takes to the field for Euro 2020, it will be his fifth tournament, something no other player has ever achieved. And what’s more, the president of Portugal’s Football Association has not ruled out the possibility of a sixth in 2024!
Goals galore in ‘84
When France won the tournament in 1984, they became the third, and most recent, team to win the European Championship at home. There was no subtlety to the way they went about it, they simply piled on the goals in a way that has never been seen before or since.
Every goal scoring record from the tournament leads back to France in 1984. Their 14 goals over the campaign is the most ever, and incredibly, nine of them were scored by their legendary midfielder Michel Platini.
Four by five for the biggest wins
The arduous qualifying rounds mean every team that qualifies is there on merit, so it is unusual for one team to dramatically outplay another. The biggest winning margin is by five goals, but that has only happened four times in 60 years.
In 1984, France beat Belgium and Denmark beat Yugoslavia, each by 5-0 in the group stages, while Sweden achieved the same over Bulgaria in 2004. Most memorable, however, was Netherland’s 6-1 win over Yugoslavia in the Eur 2000 quarter final.
How many of these records will be threatened in Euro 2020? The waiting is almost over and we will soon find out.