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Euro 2020 starts today(!)
So, it’s finally here.
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After three lockdowns, a year almost entirely without fans, one bizarre season with games spread across the summer and another which was packed into a heavily compressed timeline, the 2020 European Championship starts today. And doesn’t it feel absolutely amazing?
It’s a stretch to really say that with the return of a major tournament to the summer, along comes some semblance of normality. Not when Spain have Covid positives and have been running a back-up squad in a secondary bubble to mitigate for the virus potentially ripping through their first selection. These are emphatically still not normal times, as half-empty stadiums (at best) will attest when the tournament gets going.
And yet, there is something undeniably comforting and thrilling in equal measure about a European Championship starting tonight with the opening game between Italy and Turkey in Rome. As Jose Mourinho would say, this is football heritage.
The stories that are told over the next five weeks will resonate through the history of this great sport. They will enrich its fabric, make new heroes and villains, and develop our love and understanding of it too.
Should it be taking place as a multi-national event against the backdrop of the pandemic? Arguably not. But taking place it is, and in a funny way it feels like some kind of just reward for what we have all had to endure.
Let’s be brutally honest here. It’s been an awful 18 months. For everyone. The stark truth is that many of you reading this will have lost loved ones. Everyone reading this will have faced unthinkable impositions on their daily lives. Grandparents unable to hug grandkids. Parents forced indoors all day and having to homeschool. Young single people for whom it’s basically been illegal to go on a date for large parts of the past year.
This thing isn’t over, by any stretch. Even in a country as well vaccinated as the UK, there are signs of a third wave and the proposed relaxation of rules on June 21 looks in doubt. But Euro 2020 starts today, and for that be should feel thankful.
It’s a welcome distraction from the horrors of the real world, but it’s much more than just that. This means something fundamental to us all. Major international tournaments have provided a rhythm and structure to how we experience and remember our lives. ‘What was your first World Cup?’, ‘Where were you for Euro 96?’, ‘Oh yeah, my sister must have been married in 2002 because I remember we watched the Argentina game in the morning’.
That structured, biannual rhythm was disrupted for Euro 2020, but you can be absolutely sure that no one will forget the context for this one, or let the importance of it escape them.
Will the first pandemic major tournament be a great football occasion? The intensity of the season just finished and the developing conservatism of international football suggests maybe not. But that doesn’t matter. We got here. We earned this, every one of us. Now let’s all enjoy it.
Sancho will be a Man Utd player very soon
Yesterday came the welcome news that a saga which has dragged on longer than The Lord of the Rings could be nearing the end game.
Manchester United apparently failed with their opening £67m offer for Jadon Sancho yesterday, but with the BBC reporting that Borussia Dortmund are looking for just £77.5m, expect that gap to be closed quicker than you can say ‘£200m move to Real Madrid in two years’ time’.
The equation here is pretty clear:
Sancho is a player United have wanted for a long time, and came close signing last summer + he is a player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer really likes + his value could go through the roof if he delivers on his potential during Euro 2020 + the Glazers are really desperate for a bit of good PR.
£10m isn’t a great deal to a club of United’s stature and The Warm-Up wouldn’t be surprised to see this all done and dusted before the group stages are done. If so, it’ll be a huge coup for United.
VAR lines, don’t do it
VAR is an irredeemable blight on the game we love. The only way to fix it is to scrap it. The concept in its current form is totally devoid of any merit. This we all know.
And yet, the Premier League believes it has a solution to one of the recurring issues with this abomination: thicker VAR lines for offside. Yes, really.
A Sky Sports report says that: “An agreement to use thicker lines, originally reported in The Times, followed a presentation by Professional Game Match Officials Limited [PGMOL] referees' chief Mike Riley to clubs at their annual general meeting on Thursday.
“The PGMOL hopes the change will give the benefit back to the attacking team after Premier League clubs gave feedback in a VAR survey last season.”
Marginal offside calls are one of the more contentious aspects of VAR but, even if fans don’t like them, they are also supposed to be the only truly scientific aspect to it. There is no human judgement: it’s a simple case of off or on. So the fact that we are even having to attempt to fix this element only proves that the system is totally flawed.
The Sky report then concludes with a line which shows us just how ridiculous a corner football has painted itself into with its terrible implementation of VAR: “The International Football Association Board [IFAB] - football's lawmakers - does not specify a maximum thickness of lines, under the laws of the game.”
ENGLAND ARE PLAYING IN A MAJOR TOURNAMENT ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON!!!!!
Inject this straight into your veins:
It’s the first goddamn game of Euro 2020 as Italy take on Turkey in Rome! Join us for live comments from 7:15pm, and if you can’t wait that long, we will have a dedicated daily live blog running from 8am every day of the Euros. That’s on top of our regular transfer blog too, so we’ll have you covered from all angles.
Here's a treat for you: during the Euros we are going daily so Pete Sharland will be Warming you Up on both Saturday and Sunday.
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