The race for another final tournament is on – let’s have a look at how the teams performed
The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship took off with the first qualifying matches and everyone is excited to witness high-quality European football once again. As a premiere, this is the first tournament that will be hosted by 12 different countries to celebrate the 60th edition of the championship. The stadiums hosting the final tournament are spread across the continent with venues like Wembley in London, Allianz Arena in Munich, Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Olympic Stadium in Baku, Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Arena Nationala in România, Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Aviva Stadium in Dublin, San Mames in Bilbao, Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hampden Park in Glasgow and Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
Smooth Sailing for the Favorites in their First Matches, Except the Title Holders
Even though it’s well known the first matches are usually harder as the team needs some time to get all pistons firing, this start of the championship was different as all the big teams won their matches easily. England blasted through Czech Republic with a 5 – 0 win on Wembley, Raheem Sterling showing off his skills with a hattrick; Croatia defeated Azerbaijan in a match that was not so comfortable for the runner-ups of the last World Cup; France squashed Moldova at home in a 4 – 1. After failing to qualify for the last World Cup, Italy had a good start of this new campaign as well with a 2 – 0 victory against Finland and Spain also defeated a team from the Scandinavian peninsula, winning at home against Norway.
While the big teams registered the scores they hoped for, in the middle part of the valoric groups things are uncertain as always. Small teams are dreaming of pulling off similar feats to what Croatia achieved at the 2018 Russia World Cup while some of the ‘not there yet’ national teams are still struggling to find the form they had in former years of glory. No matter who you root for, all the elements to make this an exciting tournament are there and you will have a healthy dose of top-quality football.
VAR to be Used for the First Time at Euro 2020
The fact this European Championship will be hosted by 12 countries isn’t the only premiere we’re going to witness. The introduction of VAR, Video Assistant Referee, will also mark a very important moment. Even though it was used the 2018 World Cup, this will be the first time the system is going to be used at an European Championship. In case this is the first time you’re hearing about VAR, you should know that it’s a new procedure that allows head referees to review some of the decisions they made based on video footage. There are only 4 types of situations in which VAR can intervene to change the natural course of the game. The most important is the goal, situation in which VAR will analyse every important stage in the development of the goal that may contain offsides, fouls or anything illicit. Another important decision VAR can influence is awarding a penalty. With the technology, referees can take a second look at the offence and determine if it really was a foul or if it happened inside the penalty box. It is a system much similar to the Provably Fair technology in an Australian online casino, for those of you that are fans of online gambling.
Direct red cards and mistaken identity when awarding a yellow or red card are also situations in which VAR can be used to make sure the penalized player is the correct one. It may sound a bit silly now when you’re reading this info, however, when things get hot and nasty during a football game with high stakes and groups of players resort to pushing and hitting, VAR can easily decide who should get cards and why.
VAR was conceived in the Netherlands by the Royal Netherlands Football Association and it was first used in trials during the 2012 / 2013 season of the Eredivisie. Then, in 2014 the KNVB started a petition for the International Football Association Board to modify the existing laws of the game and allow VAR in the process. After another set of tests and trials, the VAR system was officially used in the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup competition and the A-League in Australia became the first national football league to add VAR to all their matches.