It’s Coming, Rome! – Five Things We Learnt From Euro 2020

The European Championship has come to an end, and like most well organized events, it did so in spectacular fashion. From the first game in Rome to the final game in Wembley, we were treated to a feast of goals, beautiful football, comebacks, suspense, shocks, and drama. It has simply been breathtaking.

Congrats to the Azzurri for a well deserved triumph. Their work ethic and team work made all the difference in the tournament and against the Three Lions, Roberto Mancini’s men put on a display of superior technical level to show England that football is much more than pace, power and having quality men in every position. Sometimes, all you need to do is keep the ball so that your opponents are unable to express themselves.

Here are five things we learnt from Euro 2020:

  1. VAR WAS NEVER THE PROBLEM

Since it’s introduction to European football, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been followed by one controversy or another. It’s application in some football leagues has been questioned on several occasions, especially in England where there have been calls for the technology to be scrapped. Euro 2020 has however shown us that when used appropriately – and dare I say, sensibly – the VAR can be a very valuable tool for football. We’ve seen instances where it helped correct wrong decisions in a very timely manner. Although, there were very few circumstances where wrong decisions were arguably made, like in the semi-final match between England and Denmark. Those decisions were however down to the referee in charge either refusing to verify from the pitch side monitor or completely misinterpreting the situation.

2. THE FAVORITES DO NOT ALWAYS WIN

France came into Euro 2020 as huge favorites, they had a stacked squad with quality in every position, but in the end, they were knocked out in breath-taking fashion by a Switzerland team that no one really expected to go past the second round of the competition. While certain football followers could argue that France’s case was a one-off, there were other cases like those of the Netherlands, Portugal and the Red Devils of Belgium, countries that were meant to go far in the tournament but did not live up to expectations. Italy were not odds on favorite to make it to the final, especially when one considers how bad the team was about three years ago. But the Azzurri put on a fantastic showing from the first game till the final to not only qualify for the final, but also win the tournament.

3. ATALANTA, THE SURPRISE PACKAGE

One of the biggest surprises of the tournament was the consistency and the quality in the display of Atalanta owned players during Euro 2020. if you had told any member of the Atalanta board three to four years ago that the club would have up nine representatives (second highest by an Italian club) at Europe’s biggest national team competition, they would probably have laughed at you, but that has been the reality at Euro 2020. From Matteo Pessina, Aleksei Miranchuk and Mario Pasalic to Joakim Maehle, Marten de Roon and Robin Gosens, the Atalanta players made their presence felt at the tournament and it gives credence to the work done by Atalanta president, Antonio Percassi and his staff.

4. NO MORE MULTI-NATION FORMAT….PLEASE!

Yes, I know that the entire idea behind the hosting of Euro 2020 in eleven different countries was because UEFA wanted to celebrate the 60th birthday of the competition, and to be honest, they managed to create a spectacle. However, the format created some form of imbalance for the participating countries. Travel time varied for teams and preparations were affected. UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin summed it up in a recent statement: “I think it’s too challenging, it’s in a way not correct that some teams have to travel more than 10,000 kilometers and the others, 1,000 for example.” Teams like England only had to travel once while others made multiple trips across different countries.

5. EUROPEAN TEAMS WILL DOMINATE FOR SOME TIME

With the World Cup coming up next year in Qatar, Euro 2020 has shown us the level of preparedness of the European teams. There are no pushovers in Europe anymore and the number of comebacks and shocks experienced in Euro 2020 serves as a testament to that. It won’t be surprising if all four semi-finalists at Qatar 2022 are from Europe. Asides the usual suspects, teams like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria have shown that they have the right blend of experience and youth in addition to the fighting spirit needed to do well at major tournaments, while outsiders like Hungary and Ukraine – if they qualify – would want to prove that that cannot be swept aside easily. Europe is the continent to watch out for next year.

Euro 2020 lived up to it’s billing in every way. In fact, I do not think that an European Championship comes close to this one since 2004, but that’s just me. One thing we can all agree on is that we all can’t wait for the next edition in 2024 and we can only hope that it’s just as good, or even better than this one. Over to you, Germany!

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