Euro 2020 is alive and kicking in 2021. There is nothing more universal in this diverse world than football. The timing for a healing touch from the Beautiful Game to a world in the throes of COVID-19 cannot have been better.
Ever since football resumed after the first wave of the pandemic, stadiums across Europe were eerily silent in the absence of fans who are as integral to the sport as the ball. It is a sign of hope to the wider world that fans will be able to attend all the matches across 11 host cities in Euro 2020.
With Copa America slated to click into top gear in a couple of days showcasing the mercurial talents of Lionel Messi and Neymar, binge watching will become the order of the day for the devotees of the sport.
Italy and Turkey set the ball rolling at Stadio Olimpico in the Eternal City of Rome on Friday. If the appetizer was anything to go by, the feast should be nothing short of sumptuous.
The Azzurri melded classic Italian defensive nous to sleek movement of modern-day football to thump Turkey 3-0. Italy, under the immaculately dressed Roberto Mancini, is a team of fighters, not a collection of stars. Having failed to qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup, the aristocrats of football are back with a verve, not something one would normally associate with Italy.
Personally, the moment of the game was the last-gasp block Italian captain Giorgio Chiellini made to deny Turkey’s Burak Yilmaz in the dying minutes. It was vintage Italy. Defence is not a dirty job for the Azzurri; it is an art.Indian fans tend to follow teams that have a chance of going all the way.
Euro 2020 is an open tournament with more than five teams in the title hunt. Smart money would be on France which looks invincible on paper. The reigning World Champion has so much all-round wealth that its team sheet is enough to scare opponents.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal is also brimming with top-class players. I cannot wait for France vs Portugal on July 11, can you?