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Euro 2020 Round Table: The aftermath

It’s probably safe to say Euro 2020 has been a tournament like none other for so many reasons, but in the end we got there! Records tumbled, borders were crossed many times over, and Football FINALLY/ALMOST came home… 

Our panel discussed how our pre-tournament predictions went – some monstrous ones in there – the biggest highlights and shocks, and the pan-continental format.

What’s been your highlight of the tournament, on or off the pitch?

Sam Harris: Hungary’s game against Portugal, the first time in over a year seeing a full capacity crowd. It was especially impressive considering no other stadiums were at full capacity during the tournament.

Bryan Moore: My highlight of the tournament has been watching a tournament in the first place. It’s phenomenal to consider only a few months ago that we could see this ambitious project go ahead. 

Richard Pike: Highlight of the tournament for me was the brilliant match between Germany and Portugal in the group stage. Especially the first half of that match. The tempo was outstanding and never relented.

Jack Wills: Chiellini hugging Alba prior to the semi final shootout. At best, he was a big kid having fun and living his dream. At worst, it was shithousery. Either way, I love to see it!

What’s been the biggest shock – match, player, reaction, anything?

Sam: Biggest shock was Switzerland defeat of France. In space of four minutes Switzerland missed a penalty and conceded two goals with only one outcome possible especially when France scored a third, but they fought back with two brilliant late goals before an historic win on penalties.

Bryan: Biggest shock has to be witnessing Christian Eriksen die on the pitch before being brought back. The images, which should nevertheless have been broadcast, of the medics pounding on his chest will replay in my mind for a long time.

Richard: Biggest shock on the pitch was without question Switzerland’s magnificent performances against both France and Spain, in particular against the former in the round of 16. Off the pitch, it was coming in to my house at half time of the Denmark vs Finland match having not watched the first half of the match and learning about the awful incident with Christian Eriksen. All of us at HoF hope his recovery from that awful incident continues successfully and our thoughts continue to be with him.

Jack: Perhaps not the angle you’re meaning, but it had to be the Christian Eriksen incident. It flipped the tournament narrative on its head, it stunned everyone and made the world unite in a moment where we’ve probably never seen so divided. The whole world stopped in its tracks to keep up with that.

Which was the best/worst prediction from our pre-tournament Round Table?

Sam: Worst prediction – take your pick with mine! ‘Dark horses’ Poland failed to make it out of their group and ‘top scorer’ Andre Silva failed to find the net…

Bryan: The best prediction was Italy as winners. The worst was Italy as underdogs. 

Richard: Probably my worst was the prediction of France as the tournament winners. Barring a brief spell in the second half against Switzerland in the round of 16, I felt the French disappointed in the rest of the tournament. Very happy my pre-season prediction about the Netherlands flopping due to a lack of faith in coach Frank de Boer proved true.

Jack: Denmark dark horses, my prediction. While calling Italy to win was decent, they were favourites in my eyes, so not exactly a wild call. Denmark to have made the semis was momentus at the best of time, but without their star was a crazy shock.

Has the continent-wide format worked? Was it irresponsible amidst the pandemic?

Sam: Considering the travel involved it was probably irresponsible and the poor attendances in Baku were disappointing and the Sweden v Ukraine match being held in Scotland with fans on those countries being unable to attend was disappointing. 

But it seems on a whole the host nations and travelling fans have really taken to the tournament and probably just appreciated seeing live football after so long.

Bryan: The continent-wide format has been wonderful in many ways. Bringing tournament football to places that might never see such action. It is just a pity that Dublin had to be removed as hosts. Granted it lacked fairness in terms of teams having home fixtures (England) and others travelling to the moon to play games (Wales) and the potential to cause another wave of covid. But it was a beautiful idea well executed. 

Richard: I noted the UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin in a recent interview just before the final commented about the continent-wide format. He himself expressed that UEFA wont do this again and hopefully UEFA will be good to their word on this. Ceferin couldn’t really change this format of course as this idea was Michel Platini’s idea when he was UEFA president. It was too late to change it when promises had already been made.

There was certainly huge disparities between how far certain teams had to travel all tournament. Especially the teams who had to go all the way out to Baku, Azerbaijan. Hopefully this format is never repeated going forward. Co-hosting a tournament should still be allowed but it should be capped at no more than three countries and one condition I would impose on that is that co hosts would have to be neighbouring countries.

Jack: It was a thoroughly stupid to stage it over the continent, but it has been amazing. Copenhagen and Budapest were easily the best venues for me, neither of which would have been able to host a game unless it was a split venue like Austria-Switzerland.

Why have so many people connected with this Italy side?

Bryan: The tactics. The cohesion. The passion. Celebrating clearances. The anthem. The football. The shithousery when needed. Beating England. That’s why so many connected with this team.

Richard: Just how quickly Mancini has revived their fortunes, his attacking style that he has implemented on the team, integration of young players too, may be beginning of a renaissance of Serie A on the international scene

Jack: Passion is the lifeblood of football and Italy, Chiellini and Bonuci in particular embody that passion more than most. Whatever country you support, most fans have a ‘soft spot’ for another team and Italy and their love for the game fit the bill for me. Some team kill with passes, others go all out attack and fall short to the country. Italy, Italy are a team who can celebrate a slide tackle like they’ve scored a goal, and that resonates with the purists of the game. They may not have been the best team on the night, but Italy truly were the best team of the tournament

When I was 12, my letter to United We Stand fanzine was published, and I will never forget the euphoric thrill of seeing my words in print. Two decades later I work as the Russian Premier League website's official English-language version from my home in Tyumen, Siberia. I have had my work published by When Saturday Comes, Four Four Two, These Football Times, The Guardian, The Football Pink, Futbolgrad and Russian Football News.

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