Euro 2020 will be hosted by Europe. The whole continent.

Road trip, anyone? UEFA announced that the 2020 European Championship tournament will be held in a number of cities across the continent. This means that for the first time ever there will be no country “hosting” the tournament, per se. Euro 2020 will be spread across the whole of Europe, all ~4 million square miles of it.

Reportedly, the 13 possible host cities are Istanbul, London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens, Moscow, Kiev, Amsterdam, Brussels, Basel, Zagreb. Fans who want to travel with their team, get used to searching for cheap flights and trains. For casual fans who don’t mind paying an exhorbitant amount to watch a match and jaunter around a European capital for a few days, enjoy.

Our own Saf Hossain addressed this very idea back in July. In his words:

"The logic behind having a tournament in several major cities is that a city like Rome or Madrid will already have the necessary infrastructure in place. This removes the burden building several new stadiums and infrastructure projects off the shoulders of the host country – remember, Europe’s financial position is precarious at best. As in Russia, the largest country ever be awarded the FIFA World Cup, teams would be assigned to clusters of nearby cities (.e.g. Berlin and Prague). A tournament staged in this way could even allow for fans to see cities such as Budapest and Zagreb, which wouldn’t usually get a sniff for hosting duties.

But what about the fans – will it still be possible to follow their team all across Europe? You can almost feel the gallic shrug as Mr Platini simply says, “there are budget airlines”, as if he’s telling you and I to ‘deal with it’.”

Is this a disgrace to football and another example that the men who run football care about money more than anything else? Or are you intrigued by the idea and welcome the change in the tournament’s structure? While we look into book an old VW Eurovan, let us know your thoughts.

La Furia Roja vs. Gli Azzurri: Who’s ready for the final?

We have had a truly magnificent Euro 2012. Somehow, the stars aligned in Poland and Ukraine and we had a tournament filled with goals, tactics, and some of the the best football to be found, anywhere. But two nations are into the final, and rightfully so. Pirlo and Balotelli have made Italians proud of their national team once again. For Xavi, Iniesta, Iker, and the rest of the Spaniards, it’s essentially been business as usual. Tiki taka will be the main force at the final, but Italy will do everything in their power to avoid defeat against the Spanish.

Which side do you think will win Euro 2012?

Mediocrity Breeds Content: Can we learn to love England all over again?

By Henry Cooke

Amongst Twitter’s more admirable traits lies the mischievous ability to disguise opinion as fact; mutter dressed as lamb.  Even honest mistakes by otherwise veracious individuals (“Full time: France 0 England 0” – The Times’ Oliver Kay) demonstrates that a Tweet should always be viewed through a prism of mistrust, and that the experts for things such as Euro 2012 tips are nothing more than their title.

But when canvassing opinion, and opinion alone, Twitter and its brethren are capable of providing genuine insight.  Instant, candid and mercifully brief, for all Social Medias narcissistic shortcomings, a sporting-themed Tweet is less onerous than a Five-Live phone-in, the status update more insightful than Match of the Day’s timorous analysis. 

Last night, the combined murmurings of fans, players and sports journalists alike suggested that a sober epiphany has occurred on a nationwide scale.  Almost fifteen years in the making, our demands of the national team finally seem to be aligned to their actual ability, and just maybe, we can start to enjoy football again.

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If England won everything…

After watching this EURO 2012 spot for ITV, it’s safe to say that if England were hugely successful on the international stage, then they would be absolutely insufferable. Think about it. The English press already thinks that England perpetually has the best team in the world. It’s a nice mentality, when the other alternative is perpetual pessimism. But it’s also entirely too delusional for any rational person to bear for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, the Euro is going to be here before you know it, so it’s about time to quote Inception and dream a little bigger, darling. [posted by EB]

A Year with Laurent: Only the Illusion of Success?

By Ulysse Pasquier

       Les Bleus wrapped up 2011 with a 0-0 draw at home against Belgium, an unconvincing performance that unsettled many critics in France. Just over a year since taking the top seat, the grace period and overall optimism linked to Laurent Blanc’s appointment have clearly evaporated. There is no talk of getting rid of the former Bordeaux coach of course but the consensus is evident: France is not playing good enough with the player it has. It is true that France seemed to lack pace and presence in the final third against Belgium and even during the win against the USA. Yet, Blanc’s men have just booked their place into the Euro (without going through the playoffs) and are currently defending a 17-game unbeaten streak. So which is it? Is Blanc fulfilling his promises or was 2011 only the illusion of a successful year for Les Bleus? 

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Fernando Llorente Delivers for Spain… Again

by Elizabeth Hanchett, writing from New York

Spain had its third Euro 2010 qualifying match today against Scotland, while still being short their midfield maestro Xavi, still sidelined with tendinitis after missing Spain’s match against Lithuania last Friday and Barcelona’s match against Mallorca last Sunday.  Villarreal’s Santi Cazorla, who was part of the Spanish squad which helped Spain win the last Eurocup in Austria and Switzerland, was chosen by Vicente del Bosque to play for him, and took the Catalan’s place on La Roja.  And in a surprise move, coach Vicente del Bosque decided to sideline Fernando Llorente, the Athletic Bilbao striker who scored two headers against Lithuania, and opted to put Barcelona’s David Villa alone up front in a 4-5-1 lineup.

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Friday Flashback: When Luís Figo established himself as a hero by leading Portugal over England in EURO 2000

By Eric Beard

As Portugal’s captain, a whole lot of pressure is being placed upon Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoulders. He may be the world’s best player, but can such an outlandish player really lead a team? Well, Luís Figo did. This is a painful memory for all England fans, but it has to go down as one of the all-time great individual performances, and one of the more epic comebacks as well. England were up 2-0 thanks to the likes of Beckham, Scholes, and Steve Mcmanaman, but then the Figo show turned up. Figo, at that time, was just about to make his controversial move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, and start Florentino Perez’s “Galacticos Era”.

Anyway, in this match Figo proved invaluable to the millions of Portuguese watching, and his goal to make it 2-1 will never be forgotten by most. A brilliant long-range strike that would beat every goalkeeper in the world. Then after Portugal equalized to make it 2-2, Figo, with little time left, set up Nuno Gomes’ game-winner. So if a certain someone needs some notes for how to lead a team, look no further than this. Luís Figo, you are a proper AFR legend.

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