In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted most activities all around the world. All European leagues either concluded their seasons early (e.g. France’s Ligue 1) or postponed one third of the matches to be played in the Summer (e.g. England’s Premier League). Those decisions were not quick, and it took many national and international meetings to conclude. One of the decisions was to postpone Euro 2020 for a whole year to allow domestic and continental club leagues (e.g. UEFA Champions League and Europa League) to conclude in Summer 2020.
The delay may have subconsciously caused the football world to perceive EURO 2020 as one of the best international tournaments ever. The attendance capacity of Group F (group of death) at Budapest and Wembley starting from the semi-finals cannot be ignored either. The presence of the 12th player for the English was one factor behind their reaching the final for the first time in its history.
The Eriksen Saga
The main headline of the group stage though unfortunate was Christian Eriksen’s collapse during Denmark’s 1-0 loss to Finland. The Danish player’s heart apparently stopped, which called for resuscitating the player inside a red room of teammates built immediately on a green floored hospital. Simon Kjaer kept his emotions in check to give strength to Eriksen’s devastated wife. Pictures speak louder than words as this event marked a victory for human beings.
We witnessed Netherlands, Italy and Belgium dominate their opponents to earn the full nine points and win their respective groups. England was also able to win its group with minimum effort, which left their supporters wondering about their chances in the knockout stages. Sweden surprised by winning Group E ahead of Spain, and the group of death lived up to its name as no team was able to win more than once if at all.
On an individual level, Cristiano Ronaldo continued to break records, extending his Euro Cup goals-scored mark to 14 and finally equalling Iran’s Ali Daee’s 109 goals scored for his national team.
There was a small number of players that were able to break through or achieve their highest form in this tournament. All of them are either wing- or fullbacks. On the right we had PSV Eindhoven right fullback Denzel Dumfries scoring two goals in four matches, and we saw Roma’s Leonardo Spinazzola provide two assists. The Italian left underwent Achilles Tendon surgery after a quarterfinal 2-1 victory over Belgium.
Even though Robin Gosens was able to translate his performance into an assist and a goal against Portugal, the Atalanta player is surely one to watch in coming years. His Atalanta teammate Joakim Maehle scored twice and provided an assist. He was also the player tagged with conceding the controversial penalty against England in the semifinals. Last but not least, and in my opinion the players that are going to make all the difference in the coming few seasons for their teams; Man United’s Luke Shaw and Juventus’ Federico Chiesa.
With all due respect to the Czech Republic, the worst surprise was the Netherlands’ 2-0 defeat in the round of 16. It was especially bad for fantasy players. It was a surprise because of one very poor decision by Mathijas De Ligt that threw the outcome of the match.
Other’s may consider France’s loss to Switzerland as the bigger surprise, but I would not agree. France had three extremely consuming matches in the group stage against Hungary, Portugal and Germany. Also, officially France’s record will not show the result as a loss but as a draw.
I understand Kilyan Mbappe is a star, and he will probably be the next big thing after Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar eventually retire, but weren’t penalty shootouts always a mental game? Only when Gareth Southgate started showing slivers of tactical thinking ability in the final match lineup and formation, he sends in 2 youngsters (23 year old Marcus Rashford, 21 year old Jadon Sancho) at minute 120 to participate in the penalty shootout. After both players missed, Southgate, ignoring the availability of Shaw, Grealish, and Sterling asked 19 year-old Bukayo Saka to take the last penalty against the tournament’s best player Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Euro 2020 statistics are up on UEFA website and here are the top numbers:
- 142 goals were scored overall averaging 2.79 goals per match and a goal every 32 minutes.
- Italy and Spain share the highest number of goals scored at 13 each.
- Spain tops the possession chart at 66.8%
- Spain and Germany share the highest pass accuracy percentage at 89.3%
- Italy had the highest number of attempts - 128
- Italy had the highest number of tackles - 99
- Italy had the highest number of balls recovered - 291
- Switzerland had the highest number of saves - 21
- England had the most clean sheets - 5
- The top goalscorer spot is shared between Patrik Schick and Ronaldo - 5 each
- Unless you count Own Goal - 11. Only 20 OGs have been scored in the whole history of the tournament, but 11 of them came this year, obviously a record.
- Switzerland’s Zuber assisted the most with 4
- Spinazzola achieved the highest top speed record 33.8 Km/h
- Jorginho covered the most distance - 86.6 KM
It was an engaging experience this summer with the Euro 2020 fantasy game. I missed early high fliers such as Spinazzola and Dumfries. I also had poor captain performances from MD-3 through MD-5, but I recovered nicely in the last few MDs trusting Chiesa as soon as I read that he took over Berardi’s spot as a starter. I have been following his career for four years since he started in Fiorentina’s first team, so it was not difficult to give him the arm band. He is yet to reach top form.
With 336 total points, I finished at 187,549 overall, 607 in NMA League .
Please let us know how your team fared. Did you activate the limitless chip on MD-3 like I did? Was it wildcard time when Netherlands and France left you with only a few viable players? Please let us know in the comments section.