For several weeks it had been clear that, given the rate of COVID-19’s spread, a 2021 delay was inevitable. Postponing it was the pragmatic and sensible option and sends the correct message to make temporary changes in everyday life and ensures that football is playing a large part in the pandemic.
UEFA was quick to announce that the tournament was to defer to 2021 and domestic football has welcomed the news as it gives clubs more time to complete their seasons – if time allows. So, who are the winners and losers from Euro 2020 becoming Euro 2021? Euro 2020 betting has all the latest tips and guides to the tournament.
Following a successful qualifying campaign, the expectation was sparked again about England’s possible chances of bringing home silverware. England also are riding a wave of momentum from the 2018 World Cup, where the Three Lions ultimately got knocked out by Croatia in the semi-finals, but defied all expectations with a youthful and exciting squad making a bigger dent in the competition than many anticipated.
The Nation’s hopes were squashed when Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford succumbed to injury and Raheem Sterling had hit an unusual run of poor form. Kane faced a race to be fit from a hamstring injury, but the captain can now take solace in the fact he has another year to prepare for the Euros. Rashford had his injuries concerns and had been out with a back issue since January. The Manchester United hitman had been a big doubt for the tournament, while Sterling had not been firing on all cylinders.
Now, the Three Lions have another 12 months to iron out any kinks and ensure that the 23-man squad is at their best to help spearhead the nation’s attack before England fever starts getting drummed up. The delay in the tournament also has bought time for Southgate to mitigate his decision on who to book a seat for on the plane, Grealish or Madison.
Loser? Jordan Pickford
One man who may not benefit from the year deferral is England’s No.1. The 26-year-old has been in the firing line and faced criticism for his unconvincing form with a series of high-profile blunders. Despite an out of form Pickford, it seemed that the Everton man had secured his place as Southgate’s first-choice keeper.
However, now that Euro 2020 has evolved into 2021, his place in the Three Lion’s squad could be under fire from his goalkeeper counterparts across the league. Dean Henderson has impressed on loan at Sheffield United and it was only a matter of time until he was given his first England cap, while Nick Pope has been swimming in Pickford’s slipstream for a fair amount of time now. Pickford will have a long summer to brush up on the errors he has surrendered to in the past and will be looking to cement his place in the squad yet again.
Losers – Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Oliver Giroud
These three hardened football veterans might have thought that 2020 was their last chance to make an impact on the international stage, as all are on the other side of 30. Now that the tournament has been moved, all three might be thinking that the chance of European glory is gone.
Many might argue against calling Ronaldo a veteran, but the Portuguese powerhouse is 35. The Juventus’ dangerman will be 36 at next summer’s tournament and while he showing no signs of aging, he has 21 goals in 22 Serie A games this season. Ronaldo’s ability to run Portugal’s side like a one-man show may be over in a year, as father time catches us all at one point. The iconic Portuguese footballer would have preferred the tournament to go ahead this year, rather than 2021.
The same might not be said of others who will be past their peak this time next year.
Luka Modric exploded in Russia, winning the Ballon d’Or for guiding the Croatians to their first-ever World Cup final. Unfortunately, the midfield maestro might not be as potent a year from now.
Finally, Oliver Giroud will be cursing his luck. The 33-year-old has had a turbulent time at Chelsea, falling out of sorts as the number one strike force. Even though of late he has found his scoring boots, the Frenchman has struggled to recreate his wonder years for the west London outfit. Giroud was hoping to enhance his chances of making the France squad, but it’s unlikely that Didier Deschamps will choose the aging Chelsea striker a year down the line, finding a new frontman to lead the line in 2021.
Winners – Europe’s Young Shining Stars
While the likes of Ronaldo and Giroud may be digging their heels, a beacon of hope has been lit for players at the start of their careers for whom this summer’s tournament may have come too soon. Euro 2021 has on offer some of the continent’s best youngsters that now have been handed a chance to upstage the existing order.
Assuming Norway can brush aside Serbia in the playoffs, an exciting Norwegian generation has emerged – spearheaded by Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Odegaard which will give the duo time to smooth any rough edges. By 2021, Jadon Sancho could have secured a regular starting spot in the Three Lion’s camp, while Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz may have also cemented a place in the German team.
Losers – Belgium
This is the side that probably is punished the most with the tournament move. Euro 2020 was one of the last chances the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ had to finally deliver.
In 2021 Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne will both turn 30, Toby Alderweireld will be 32 and Jan Vertonghen 34 and this season has shown that these players are at their best. Axel Witsel, Dortmund’s whippy winger will also turn 32 after the delay.
Romelu Lukaku, 26, on the other hand, is firing on all cylinders for new club Inter Milan and would have been hoping to shift that run-in form over to the 2020 Euros.
A year in hindsight doesn’t seem too long, but it’s that extra 12 months which could be the difference between some players being at their peak or at the start of their footballing decline.
Winners – Netherlands
Dutch fortunes have picked up considerably over the past year and the thought of another year of preparation is a feather in Ronald Koeman’s cap. In a similar story to England, the Dutch will be breathing a sigh of relief with the extra time to prepare.
Having failed to qualify in 2016, Koeman’s 23-man squad were dubbed the dark horses for this tournament following their brilliant qualification but also suffered from a plethora of injuries and decline in form from some of their vital stars.
The names that come out of the Dutch team’s hat are extraordinary, Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek, and Donyell Malen and so many more. Injuries to Memphis Depay and Steven Bergwijn threw their tournament into some serious doubt, while Matthijs de Light does not look the same emerging star since putting on the Juventus’ jersey. With another year in the chamber, the Dutch seem to have time to streamline their whole operation to become a formidable force not to be reckoned with.