Excitement Builds For Euro 2020

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Cristiano Ronaldo made his Portugal debut in 2003
Cristiano Ronaldo made his Portugal debut in 2003 AFP / Jonathan NACKSTRAND

Euro 2020 is finally ready to kick off Friday, albeit a year late. Twenty-four teams will compete in Europe’s top soccer tournament, which was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament is scheduled to conclude on July 11 at England's Wembley Stadium. Unlike previous events, matches will be played in 11 different cities across the continent rather than one or two set venues with varying attendance limits based on local COVID protocols.

England and France enter Euro 2020 as the co-favorites. They are tied with +500 odds, according to OddsShark. France is the reigning World Cup champion, while England has a chance to compete in the finals in its home country.

Nearly one-third of the teams are given better than 10/1 odds to win the title. Belgium is just behind the favorites with +600 odds. Italy and Spain are tied at +800, followed by Germany and Portugal at +900.

Portugal won the last European Championship, though it happened five years ago. Cristiano Ronaldo leads the squad, sitting just five goals shy of the all-time record for international goals.

“I feel as motivated or even more than in 2004 when I played my first European tournament,” Ronaldo told Canal 11. “We are the defending champions, and we are part of a new group of candidates to win the trophy.”

The Netherlands is also in the mix with +1400 odds. Denmark starts the next tier with +2500 odds. Croatia is considered a fringe contender at +3300.

It would be a surprise to see another team win the Euro 2020 championship. Switzerland (+6600) Turkey (+6600) and Poland (+8000) are long shots. That goes even more so for Sweden (+10000), Ukraine (+10000), Russia (+12500), Austria (+15000) and the Czech Republic (+15000).

Scotland (+20000) and Wales (+20000) are given virtually no chance. It would be a monumental upset for Hungary (+40000), Finland (+50000), North Macedonia (+50000) or Slovakia (+50000) to win the tournament.

Euro 2020 group play gets under way Friday at 3 p.m. EST with Italy taking on Turkey. Group play kicks into high gear Saturday with three matches -- Wales vs. Switzerland (9 a.m.), Denmark vs. Finland (noon) and Belgium vs. Russia (3 p.m.).

Photo: AFP / Jonathan NACKSTRAND

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