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Sunday, August 1, 2021

England in Euro 2020 - unnecessary comparisons with that of Euro 1996

Young Londoners getting their first vaccine jabs this week will be entered in a draw to win tickets for the Euro 2020 football final, the city's mayor announced today.  The incentive comes as the vaccine roll-out is now targeting those aged 18 and over, and England are in the last four and on the verge of their first major championship final -- and trophy -- since 1966.

The final will be played at London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Unlike some other countries, Britain has not had to offer anything to encourage take-up of Covid vaccines. But the government is in a race against time to jab as many people as possible to slow the rapid spread of the Delta variant, as the economy reopens. The offer is "an incentive to younger Londoners to receive the jab", London Mayor told AFP in an interview.

Just like our addiction to Cricket, this is more in Europe and elsewhere – UEFA 2020 - 2020 UEFA European Football Championship,  or simply Euro 2020, is the 16th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).  The tournament, being held in 11 cities in 11 UEFA countries, was originally scheduled from 12 June to 12 July 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and rescheduled for 11 June to 11 July 2021 – though happening now in 2021 it has retained the same name "UEFA Euro 2020".

UEFA President Michel Platini said in 2012 that the tournament was to be hosted in several nations as a "romantic" one-off event to celebrate the 60th "birthday" of the European Championship competition.  Having the largest capacity of any of the stadiums entered for the competition, Wembley Stadium in London is scheduled to host the semi-finals and final for the second time, having done so before at the 1996 tournament in the stadium's former incarnation. The Stadio Olimpico in Rome was chosen to host the opening game, involving Turkey and host Italy.  

England are gearing up for a first European Championship semi-final since their penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany at Euro 96. This time, Gareth Southgate's side overcame the Germans in the round of 16, before a comfortable 4-0 victory over Ukraine in the quarter-finals set up Wednesday's meeting with Denmark. Twenty-five years ago, Alan Shearer opened the scoring inside three minutes but his goal was cancelled out 13 minutes later by Stefan Kuntz's leveller. There was no further scoring and extra time could not separate the teams, meaning a second tournament shoot-out for the Three Lions. After 10 successful spot-kicks, Southgate's effort was saved by Andreas Kopke in sudden death.

Gareth Southgate has said that he is not motivated by the chance to erase the pain of his missed penalty against Germany at Euro 96 and has urged England’s players to make history at Wembley tomorrow night. England’s manager insisted that he has not been thinking about being the fall guy when Terry Venables’ team suffered semi-final heartbreak 25 years ago and he is not looking to give the country closure by reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 at Germany’s expense. Southgate, who is veering towards switching to a back three, does not believe that the tie is about his past and he wants his players to show bravery against Joachim Löw’s side. “I can’t win this game,” Southgate said. “It will be the players who win it. It’s important the focus is on them. The opportunity is theirs. What happened to me has helped in many different areas of my life but it’s of no importance to this group of players and every time you play an opponent it’s about two sets of players. “It’s about how well they prepared and how well they perform. There are always records in the Premier League of teams who haven’t won at certain grounds for 30 years but at some point that record gets broken. All those barriers are there to be knocked down in life and that’s the mentality we have got to have.”

Southgate took care to ensure the narrative does not become about him, pointing out his players are too young to care about the history between the two countries, and he stressed that he has not been thinking about his penalty since last Wednesday, when Germany progressed to face England by drawing with Hungary. There is a determination to focus on the next challenge. It does not bother Southgate that Andreas Köpke, the man who broke his heart in 1996, is Germany’s goalkeeping coach now. The 1996 UEFA European Football Championship,  Euro 96, was the 10th UEFA European Championship. Matches were staged in eight cities and, although not all games were sold out, the tournament holds the European Championship's second-highest aggregate attendance (1,276,000) and average per game (41,158) for the 16-team format, surpassed only in 2012. The tournament was the first European Championship where three points were awarded for a win during the qualification and finals group stages, as opposed to the old system of two points for a win, reflecting the growing use of this system in domestic leagues throughout the world during the previous decade.

Germany won the tournament, beating the Czech Republic 2–1 in the final with a golden goal from Oliver Bierhoff during extra time; this was the first major competition to be decided using this method. This was also Germany's first major title won as a unified nation, adding to the two European Championship titles won by West Germany prior to reunification.

Now something different as reported in Femail !  .. .. The curse of Euro 96! From domestic abuse and jail sentences to affairs - how the last England squad to make the semi-finals lost their WAGs (apart from Gareth Southgate).  MailOnline reports that Euro 1996 squad have suffered series of unsuccessful relationships with WAGs. The team were paired up with childhood sweethearts and model girlfriends – many of the couples have now split, with some having scandalous affairs. 

The England squad and their wives, girlfriends and adoring are currently riding high after their side's spectacular 4-0 win against Ukraine. Their success has drawn comparisons with the Euro 1996 squad, who made it to the semi-final before they were knocked out after Gareth Southgate missed the crucial penalty against Germany. But while Southgate has remained faithful to his wife of 20 years Alison, whose off-pitch support the manager has credited with keeping him grounded, many of his former teammates have not been so lucky in love. From drug addiction and prison sentences to scandalous affairs and domestic abuse, life has not been easy for them !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th July 2021.

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