Friday, September 24, 2021

Euro2020: European champions again on the conquest of Europe

Miguel Morgado

26 players, 11 winners of the European title in 2016, one debutant, Pedro Gonçalves, two cities, Budapest and Munich, two countries in the group phase, Hungary and Germany and two old rivals, France and Germany. Portugal and Fernando Santos, reigning European champions, depart in conquest of Euro 2020. The event, taking place one year late due to the pandemic, spans 11 cities in 11 countries, from 11 June to the 11 July. Kick-off in Rome and the final in London. Fans back in the stadiums with capacities between 25% and full-houses.

Almost five years on from the famous shot by Éder, that one in Paris, in the Stade de France, that would end in a goal that would bring Portugal their first ever European title, the national football team embarks on another new adventure at the European Championship. This becomes the eighth in history, the sixth in a row in a sequence inaugurated four years prior to the end of the last century (1996).

Euro 2020 is the sixth competition of the Fernando Santos era, the most successful manager ever of the national team nicknamed Quinas. The “Engineer”, aged 66, has picked up two European trophies, Euro 2016, in France, and the League of Nations in 2019 and the only international trophies hitherto won by Portugal along the way.

In the job since 2014, this has been a path successfully followed alongside another Fernando (Gomes), president of the FPF – the Portuguese Football Federation, the former league president who took over the federation position in December 2011. Three years later, he was inviting Fernando Santos to take over from Paulo Bento, the only two national team managers under the current FPF management.

Having overseen 82 games as the manager of Portugal, the curriculum of Fernando Santos covers two European championships (France 2016 and Euro 2020), one World Cup (Russia 2018), two League of Nations (2018-2019 and 2020-2021) and one Confederations Cup in 2017.

The former manager of the three big Portuguese clubs and the Greek national team, with over 1,000 visits to the bench in the capacity of manager (a feat achieved against Serbia on 27 March for a World Cup 2022 Group Qualification Match), six years on from his debut, on 11 October 2020, facing the same opposition, France, Santos became the Portuguese manager in charge for the most games, then with 75 and one more than Felipe Scolari.

Loyal to the model of 23 players, Santos proved willing to change principles and acceded to the request by UEFA for the 16th edition of this tournament involving 24 European countries and registered an additional three players to make a total of 26.

Catholic, superstitious, known for being conservative and “results” based, he’s taking just three central and multi-purpose defenders in his team. Pedro Gonçalves, Sporting, top scorer in Liga NOS, is another debutant to get their chance courtesy of Fernando Santos. Nuno Mendes and Palhinha, club colleagues (Sporting), are making their final phase debuts alongside Jota.

Of the European champions from last time around, there remain 11 players in the squad: Rui Patrício, Anthony Lopes, Pepe, José Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro, Danilo, William, João Moutinho, Renato Sanches, Rafa and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Out of the squad chosen are the 12 other European champions including leading names such as Cédric Soares, Ricardo Quaresma, Adrien Silva, João Mário, André Gomes and the already mentioned hero of the Stade de France, Éder.

On the squad list of 26, only six players play their football for Portuguese clubs; three from Sporting, two from FC Porto and one from Benfica. Wolves is the most representative club with the Premier league team sending four while that League as a whole employs six with Spain and France back on four, Germany on two and with Italy sending Cristiano Ronaldo off to compete in his 11th tournament as the other destinations for Portugal’s footballing skill drain.

Integrated into Group F, Portugal, the defending European champion, is up against Hungary, Germany and France. In this group of death, the Quinas are up against two former European and World Cup champions in France and Germany with the latter joining Hungary in taking on Portugal with home advantage.

The tickets for the plane to Budapest are purchased for 10 June. The Portuguese premiere in Euro 2020 takes place five days later against Hungary on the 15th. The bags are then back packed for the trip to Munich for the match against Germany on the 19th before returning to the Hungarian capital for yet another reencounter with France, with at least good memories arising from recent matches against the current world champions, on 23 June.

The stadia

The groups

Should Portugal make it through to the knock-out phase, then there are four travel hypotheses; Bucharest and Budapest on one side of Europe and London and Seville on the other. In the following phase, the options then become Saint Petersburg and Baku and Rome or a return to Munich are all within the scope of possibility in accordance with classification equations and with London the ultimate destination for the final two rounds in this tournament; the semi-finals and the final.

The cities and the stadia

Different to previous years, this ends up neither as a tournament held within a single country nor the extensive competition planned to link Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.

Delayed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this tournament is now taking place divided across 11 cities in 11 countries to the contrary of the 13 initially elected destinations.

Following the fall of Brussels, the next to be ruled off-side were Bilbao (Spain) and Dublin (Ireland) due to the lack of guarantees over the presence of fans inside the stadiums. Saint Petersburg and London are the new stages.

The ambience inside the stadium for these matches is a clear wish of the “owner” of European football who delegates the decision over the extent of opening of the doors to crowds of between 25% and 100% of the capacity down to the respective host city.

The competition kicks off at the Olympic Stadium in Rome (Italy) on Friday 11 June, with a Group A match between Italy and Turkey. In turn, the final takes place on Sunday 11 July in Wembley, in north London (the United Kingdom).

Euro 2020 with an open signal on TVI, RTP and SIC. Sport TV as the exclusive channel

SIC, RTP and TVI have signed a partnership deal with Sport TV, holder of the television rights and are to broadcast games simultaneously to the restricted access sports channel.

While the 51 matches are taking place on Sport TV, the signal is to be left open for one of the remaining three channels. TVI is taking on the largest slice of the games with eight in the group phases, including the tournament kick-off between Turkey and Italy on 11 June at 8pm, and Portugal-Germany, at 5pm on Saturday 19 June. The rest of the matches span two from the first knock-out phase, one quarter-final and one semi-final.

RTP divided with SIC the remaining 12 matches. The state television channel takes on eight of them including the final of the event, four group matches, including Portugal-France (23 June, at 8pm), one from the round of the last-sixteen, one from the quarter-finals and one semi-final.

In turn, SIC gets five matches including the opening match of Portugal in the competition against Hungary, at 5pm on Tuesday, 15 June, the all British duel in the group phase with England taking on Scotland on the 18 June before showing two last-16 and one quarter-final match.

Sport TV is going to have an “open bar” for the football and a channel exclusively dedicated to the European championships throughout the duration of the competition.

Members of state put on the Quinas shirt

From the Europeans to the World Cup and all the way back again, politics, alongside economics and culture, walks hand-in-hand with the football. Euro 2020 will be no exception.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Ferro Rodrigues and António Costa, the highest representatives of the Portuguese Republic, shall be in attendance for the national team matches at the Euro2020s.

President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, takes the honour of opening up the airbridge from Portugal with the head of state in Budapest on 15 June to watch Portugal take on hosts Hungary.

Four days later, on 19th, Portugal is in Munich for the group match against Germany with Prime Minister António Costa on hand for the occasion. In turn, for the last match in the group phase, it’s back to the city that straddles the river Danube with Portugal up against France with the former represented by the Parliamentary President, Ferro Rodrigues, the second most senior figure should we take a hierarchical perspective.

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