Armchair pundit: The bare minimum you need to know ahead of Euro 2020

After several near misses under gaffers like Roy Hodgson, Finland make their bow at a major tournament, emulating their Nordic brethren Iceland last time out.
Armchair pundit: The bare minimum you need to know ahead of Euro 2020

England's Harry Maguire (centre) and team-mates during the training session at St George's Park. Has their time come? Can the defence stand up? Or are we set for another debate on the merits of practising penalties?

Fans at all the games?

All 11 host cities will have fans in the stadiums — with capacities ranging from 22%-50%, with potential for movement as the Covid situation evolves. Budapest has set a 100% capacity target, which should make for a strong booing chorus for France’s visit if French players continue to take the knee before kick-off.

The new boys?

After several near misses under gaffers like Roy Hodgson, Finland make their bow at a major tournament, emulating their Nordic brethren Iceland last time out.

Looking for existential ‘learnings’ to lecture everyone on why this nation of five million people can do it and not us? Well, the secret seems to be; keep it tight and wait for Teemu Pukki to score.

Other newcomers, North Macedonia, would be entitled to a loud chuckle at our expense, after all those ‘having a Macedonia’ jibes over the years.

What’s the story with the group of death?

Group F provides the obligatory peril, with France, Germany, and Portugal involved. But with three to go through from four of the groups, and Hungary looking like makeweights, this one seems odds-on to become, as Jimmy Magee would have put it, a ‘group of survival’.

Watch out for the boobie price though — second place earns a last-16 meeting with the winners of Group D, champions-elect England.

Are you sure it’s Euro 2020?

Yeah, last April Uefa ruled it would keep the name to remember what the world had to go through in 2020 — and to avoid reprinting a load of stuff.

What’s to complain about besides VAR?

Teams are allowed up to five substitutions, with a sixth possible in extra-time. But to avoid that friendly vibe, coaches have to make them in three installments — excluding half-time. Squads are 26 rather than the usual 23 to help offset Covid outbreaks, with 23 to be named on matchday.

Oh, and the accidental attacking handball rule has been tweaked which means goals that were thumped against someone’s armpit in the build-up shouldn’t be disallowed. Though you still won’t be allowed score with that armpit.

England’s time has come, has it?

Ah, maybe. They could suitably end the 55 years of hurt by doing most of the job at Wembley. Though a Jordan Pickford gaffe against Croatia next Sunday might prove beneficial when they finish second in the group and avoid the Group F runners-up in the last 16.

Mind you, that will only delay the inevitable meeting with a Group of Death survivor until the quarter-final. Can the defence stand up? Or are we set for another debate on the merits of practising penalties?

Gimme a ‘dark horse’?

Turkey, maybe, having conceded just three in the qualifiers. Could they ‘do a Greece’ — even if they’d probably prefer you didn’t call it that?

The ‘breakout’ star?

Phil Foden is setting himself up as the modern-day Gazza, which is a brave one. Manuel Locatelli of Sassuolo is the Italy’s newest ‘new Pirlo’?

The pundit?

Probably Keano. Though ITV also has Emma Hayes, who can usually be heard giving a tactical masterclass from the Chelsea technical area.

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