Offensive urge and drama: It was surprisingly brave at this EM. Teams with offensive ambitions were often rewarded, the EM ended with a new goal record since the introduction of the group stage in the finals. The goal average of 2.78 goals per game is the highest in European Championship history since 1980. In 2000 in the Netherlands it was an average of 2.742 goals. And it was exciting: Eight of the 15 knockout games went into overtime. A favorite prevailed in the end, but the outsiders also showed what is possible as a collective.
The wingers: The wingers – full-backs and wingers – have impressively left their mark on the games, and not just for legendary coach Fabio Capello. England’s Raheem Sterling, Italy’s Federico Chiesa, Leonardo Spinazzola and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, the Dutchman Denzel Dumfries and Denmark’s Joakim Maehle were among the most noticeable players in the tournament.
That was the EM 2020
It was a wonderful four weeks that football fans all over Europe were able to experience – with beautiful goals, a new goal record, fantastic games, real football thriller and an Austrian national team that was right in the middle of it and didn’t play such a bad role.
Italy: For many, the “Squadra Azzura” not only deservedly crowned itself European champion, it broke with old traditions on the biggest stage: Italy is no longer a defensive apostle under Roberto Mancini, the Italians delighted with refreshing and well-trimmed offensive performances, but shied away – when it mattered – do not have a look at the Catenaccio manual. After some struggle, the ÖFB team felt that too.
ÖFB-Team: David Alaba and Co. celebrated the first victory of an Austrian team at a European Championship finals in the first game against North Macedonia (3-1), but the red-white-red fans didn’t really get in the mood until the end of the group phase. With a 1-0 win against Ukraine, they made it to the round of 16, in which the selection of Franco Foda co-favorite Italy delivered a hot fight at eye level and only had to admit defeat 1: 2 in extra time. The courage to take risks was acknowledged with praise.
Denmark: First all of Europe feared for Christian Eriksen’s survival. His teammates reacted in an exemplary manner to the cardiac arrest of their star player, formed a privacy screen, then the refreshing, open approach to their own emotions. And finally, a sporting triumph under coach-tactician Kasper Hjulmand, who lets “Danish Dynamite” advance into the semi-finals. Memories of the sensational title in 1992 were awakened.
Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese selection was not enough to successfully defend the title, and Ronaldo’s performances are said to have been better once before. For this, the now 36-year-old superstar continued to collect records. Ronaldo scored five goals in this tournament and is now by far number one with 14 goals in the European Championship finals. With a total of 109 international goals, he also set the record for Iranian Ali Daei.
The most beautiful goals of the Euro 2020
The kneeling: The kneeling down from this tournament will be remembered as the ultimate political symbol. Before each of their games, the English internationals kneel on the floor for a moment just before kick-off – as a gesture against racism, which was particularly symbolic in view of the hostility after the lost penalty thriller against Italy in the final. Some teams showed solidarity, others refused to kneel down. Austria’s national team never knelt.
The group F: With world champions France, defending champions Portugal and Germany, three co-favorites played in the “horror group”. The trio already had problems with the blatant outsider Hungary in the group stage, and in the round of 16 all three teams ended up early. France lost a two-goal lead against Switzerland and were eliminated on penalties, Portugal lost to Belgium 1-0 and Germany lost 2-0 to England.
Kylian Mbappe: The 22-year-old striker was the designated top star of this European Championship. But in the generational duel with Cristiano Ronaldo, the already world champion from Paris Saint-Germain was far from being able to keep up. With good actions, but without scoring, it went into the round of 16 duel with Switzerland, in which Mbappe missed the decisive penalty and thus became France’s tragic hero.
Turkey: In the qualification, the Turks had won over world champions France, 23 points from ten games and only conceded three goals, in some places the selection from the Bosporus was even seen as a secret favorite. The final round was a disgrace for team boss Senol Günes and his team with zero points and 1: 8 goals.
UEFA Policy: Pressure on Denmark after the Eriksen collapse, the shifting of responsibility on the coronavirus issue to the local authorities and then a rainbow ban: The continental association not only shot itself with the prohibition to close the Munich arena in rainbow colors before the game against Hungary illuminate, an own goal.
Own goal flood: The new maximum number seems unsurpassable. Actors of a defending team maneuvered the ball into their own goal eleven times – more often than in all previous finals together (9). There are explanations. The many counter-attacks and flanking balls resulted in actions in which (tired?) Defenders and goalkeepers made serious mistakes.
EM own goals
EM-Modus: The increase to 24 teams in 2016 brought with it the difficulty of filtering 16 teams out of six groups of four for the round of 16. Because the four best thirds in the group progressed in this way, several problems arise: Some teams have to wait for days for certainty, while others can be satisfied with certain results with a look at the table of thirds in the group in the final game. This will not change at the Germany tournament in 2024 either, but UEFA is considering expanding it to 32 participants for the 2028 European Championship. After all, there should be no repetition of the final across the entire continent.
Emotion vs. Superspreader: Finally the mood again – or a celebration for the coronavirus? In Budapest a full house, in London “Sweet Caroline” blaring English fired the euphoria. The chants and full stadiums replaced the bleak images with empty stadiums, but the question of proportionality remains. Do the emotions demanded by King Football have to be paid for in the aftermath of people’s health?
The VAR and the offside: The assistant video referee (VAR) was used for the first time at a European Championship finals. There were practically no long waiting times, the decisions regarding the scenes to be evaluated were made quickly and mostly correctly. However, the technical aid is not fully developed. Above all, the extremely late decisions made offside call critics and VAR skeptics on the scene. There is not so much time until the next big final of the men, because the controversial World Cup in Qatar in November 2022 has long since cast its shadow.