The Independent’s Euro 2020 virtual event
Is it coming home? Actually, it’s already here.
England, Scotland and Wales are competing in a European Championship which will have four games played at Glasgow’s Hampden Park and seven at Wembley, including both semi-finals and the final.
But that wasn’t the only question asked by the audience for our Euro 2020 online event, held last night (9 June), two days before the tournament kicks off in earnest and a year after it was originally scheduled to be played.
Scroll down to watch the event video
So, assessing each of the home nations’ chances, how far can England actually go?
Gareth Southgate can draw from one of the deepest English talent pools in a generation and can expect to progress out of the group stages, especially as some of the best third-placed teams will reach the knock-outs, but from thereon it becomes tricky.
Win Group D and a date with one of France, Germany or Portugal is likely in the last-16. Other routes are more straightforward but to be the best, you have to beat the best sooner or later and whether England are ready is an open question.
Scotland, meanwhile, have reached their first major tournament in 23 years and play England at Wembley on 18 June.
Steve Clarke’s side are not expected to go all the way but want to give a good account of themselves and are being dismissed too easily in some quarters, with a solid core of talented Premier League regulars like Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and John McGinn.
Watch the full event in the video below
Then there’s Wales, who are hoping if not expecting to match their heroics of five years ago and that extraordinary run to the semi-finals.
The core of that 2016 side is still intact with captain Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen and a new generation of talent is gradually emerging but they must negotiate a tricky group under interim manager Rob Page.
What about the wider field? Who should you hope to snag in the work sweepstake?
World champions France are the bookmakers’ favourites. Spain and Germany have dominated international football in recent memory but have some question marks hanging over them this time around, as do the Netherlands.
Belgium are ranked as the world’s best according to Fifa and should put up a serious challenge, along with Italy and reigning champions Portugal.
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In terms of dark horses, Turkey qualified with an impressive record, Croatia were beaten World Cup finalists and Denmark not only have a solid starting line-up but also pedigree when it comes to upsets, winning against all expectations at Euro 92.
What’s certain is that this will be a tournament like no other, played across a whole continent in 11 European cities stretching from Seville in the west to Baku in the east, and all during a pandemic.
As several audience members asked: will it work? Well, despite some significant difficulties, European football has successfully completed a Covid-era season and precautions are in place, with every host city and stadium able to accommodate at least some spectators.
It will be very different from Euros past but perhaps, given the circumstances, a more poignant celebration of the world’s most popular sport.
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