We’ve written a UEFA European Championship beginner’s guide to explain how one of the world’s most exciting soccer competitions works and where you can watch the matches on US television and streaming.
The event brings together the finest footballing nations from across Europe to compete for the right to be crowned as kings of the continent. Like the World Cup, the title is defended every four years, adding greater significance and anticipation to the fixtures played out.
Founded in 1960, the European Championship has seen plenty of changes and continues to evolve as modern soccer morphs. Indeed, while these events are typically hosted or co-hosted by a competing nation(s), the 2020 edition (2021) will see 11 cities from 11 different countries stage games to make up the tournament, with the semi-finals and final to be held at Wembley Stadium in London.
Although the 2020 Euros were ultimately pushed back until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official logo and name of the tournament will still continue to be UEFA Euro 2020.
Fans in the United States can catch all of the action of the upcoming tournament on ABC, ESPN, and Univision. The tournament is set to start on June 11th.
UEFA European Championship beginner’s guide
The qualification process for the competition saw all 55 UEFA member countries battle it out for their spot in the upcoming tournament. Because host cities/countries were selected prior to the qualification matches, it was possible for a country to host a Euro 2020 match, but fail to actually qualify for the tournament.
Of the 24 slots available, 20 were filled by sides who made it through the standard qualification route, with the top two sides from 10 groups making their way into the final bracket. The other four remaining spots were accessed via a playoff path.
Six groups of four teams each will begin the group stage of the tournament. The top two teams from each group will directly advance into the knockout phase, while the top four performing third place teams will also advance into the round of 16. Once the knockout round begins, it will be a winner-take-all tournament until a champion is ultimately crowned on July 11th.
The decision to hold the competition across 11 different countries, rather than a single nation, is to celebrate the event’s 60th anniversary. As previously mentioned, Wembley is set to be the stadium at which the semi-final and final matches are held. The quarter-finals will be staged in Baku, Munich, Rome and Saint Petersburg.
Naturally, having been running for so many years, the European Championship has forged a tremendous legacy and has been a grand stage for plenty of immortal figures in the sport’s history.
In the 15 times the tournament has been held, 10 different winners have emerged, offering an insight into just how fierce the competition is among the continent’s best national teams. Germany and Spain are the most prolific winners, sampling glory on three separate occasions each.
The Euros have a reputation for producing shocks as well. In the past, some unlikely champions have surfaced, with the most recent example being Portugal in 2016. Grinding their way to the final and upsetting France in front of their own supporters, Portugal secured the title with an unlikely hero (Eder) scoring the winner in extra-time.
In 1992, Denmark only took up a spot in the final eight-team lineup after Yugoslavia were disqualified from competing and went on to secure a surprise triumph. Famously, it was claimed the Danes, who believed they were off for the summer, came off the beach to win their first and only European title.
But the most surprising champions in Euros history, perhaps even in the history of international football, came when Greece won the 2004 edition. Few believed Otto Rehhagel’s men would win a game at the Portugal showpiece, although they upset the hosts 2-1 in the first game of the tournament and eventually took their place in the knockout stages. From that point on they didn’t concede a goal and beat Portugal for a second time to complete a gargantuan upset.
In terms of individuals, France’s Michel Platini secured his status as an all-time great in this competition and is the overall top scorer in European Championship history; his nine goals in the 1984 tournament powered his country to glory on home soil.
READ MORE: Name variations of soccer leagues, cups and tournaments
Browse through these beginners guides to the many of the popular soccer leagues:
Soccer Beginner’s guides
• Beginner’s guide to soccer rules
• Beginner’s guide to Argentine Primera División
• Beginner’s guide to Bundesliga
• Beginner’s guide to Championship
• Beginner’s guide to Champions League
• Beginner’s guide to English Premier League
• Beginner’s guide to Korea’s K League
• Beginner’s guide to Euro 2020
• Beginner’s guide to World Cup
If you have any questions about the European Championship beginner’s guide, please let us know in the comments section below.
Here’s the Euro 2020 TV schedule (all times Eastern):
Euro 2020 TV schedule
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