The History of The Euros

The History of The Euros A visionary Frenchman called Henri Delaunay first floated the idea of a pan-European football tournament back in 1927.

Delaunay spent his playing career at Étoile des Deux Lacs in Paris and then became a referee, but he had to retire after suffering a freak injury. The ball struck him in the face during a game between AF Garenne-Doves and ES Benevolence, breaking two of his teeth and causing him to swallow.

However, he made a full recovery and embarked upon a career as an administrator. Delaunay rose to the top of the French Football Federation, and ultimately became the general secretary of UEFA. He worked with Jules Rimet to create the World Cup, while he was always a passionate champion of creating a UEFA European Championship.

Delaunay’s Dream Becomes a Reality

Relations were tense between many European nations between the wars, and he was unable to bring enough countries together to host the tournament. His plan only started to gain traction in the 1950s, when a semblance of peace existed on the continent.

After much wrangling, a date was finally set for the inaugural European Championship, which was set for 1960. Delaunay sadly died before he could see the tournament come to fruition, but his son, Pierre, replaced him as the head of UEFA and ensured the Euros went ahead.

The trophy awarded to the champion is named after Delaunay in order to honour his legacy.

The first iteration of the tournament was a slightly underwhelming affair, as England, Italy and West Germany declined to take part. Spain also refused to travel to the Soviet Union for the quarter-finals due to political reasons, meaning the Soviets received a bye into the semis.

They made short work of Czechoslovakia, teeing up a final showdown with Yugoslavia, who beat France 5-4 in the other semi-final. It was a tense, cagey affair, but legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin ultimately led the Soviets to a 2-1 victory after extra-time.

Tournament Takes Shape

Spain hosted the second European Championship in 1964. There were still teething problems – West Germany did not enter, and Greece withdrew after being drawn against Albania, a country it was at war with – but it was a more competitive affair. This time Franco did allow Spain to play against the Soviets, and he was at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid to witness them beat Yashin and co 2-1 in the final, courtesy of a late winner from Marcelino.

The number of competitors increased to 31 when Italy hosted the Euros in 1968, and the Italians ultimately triumphed. They drew 1-1 in a final against Yugoslavia, but won the replay 2-0. Belgium hosted the 1972 tournament, which saw West Germany beat the Soviet Union 3-0 in the final, with the iconic Gerd Müller scoring a brace.

West Germany went on to win the World Cup two years later, but they lost to Czechoslovakia in the final of the 1976 European Championship. This was the first tournament to be decided by a penalty shootout. Uli Hoeneß missed his kick for the Germans, giving Antonin Panenka the opportunity to settle it. The Czech midfielder slotted in an audacious chip to win the shootout, and players are still pulling off Panenkas to this day.

Platini and van Basten Dominate the 1980s

The Euros grew increasingly organised and professional in the 1980s. The knockout stage was expanded to eight teams in 1980. West Germany prevailed again that year, while Michel Platini led France to glory four years later, firing in nine goals in just five games.

Marco van Basten lit up the 1988 final when he slammed in a volley from an outrageous angle en route to a Dutch victory over the Soviet Union.

In 1992, Yugoslavia were banned from entering Euros as the country descended into civil war. Denmark took their place, and ended up winning the tournament, beating a unified Germany in the final.

The Modern Era

England hosted Euro 1996, which saw the knockout stage expanded to 16 teams for the first time. David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds whipped the country into a passionate frenzy, but England crashed out in the semi-finals after losing a shootout against Germany, who ended up lifting the trophy.

Euro 2000 was the first tournament to have joint hosts – Belgium and the Netherlands – but it was reigning world champions France that emerged victorious. The greatest upset came four years later, when an unheralded Greek team beat hosts Portugal in the final.

Spain won the Euros in 2008 and 2012 during a dominant period led by Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and then Portugal became champions of Europe for the first time in 2016.

UEFA decided to host Euro 2020 at a number of different cities across the continent to mark the tournament’s 60th anniversary. It was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will take place this summer. England and France are the joint favourites in the Euro 2020 betting at Unikrn, while Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy are all looking very strong.

Fans will be back inside certain stadiums to watch the action unfold, and it promises to be a captivating tournament, which Delaunay would no doubt have enjoyed.

French Open 2021 Preview

All eyes turn to the 2021 French Open at the end of May, after the French public authorities threw a spanner in the works deciding to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by one week, which will now be held from 24 May to 13 June.

With an extra week to play with many tour players have planned their tennis calendar around the competition in Paris, avoiding competitions in the interim. Rafa Nadal is coming off a pulsating Barcelona Open title win, after dispatching a resilient Stefanos Tsitsipas saving a match point in a thrilling three-set victory.

Nadal, the undoubted “King of Clay” will turn 35 during this year’s French Open and is equal on Grand Slams as counterpart Rodger Federer. The build-up to the tournament has mainly been focused around Rodger Federer’s return and the veteran’s chances against a man that is acclaimed to be the best player ever to play on the red dirt.

French Open 2021 Preview

 

With Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem occupying the three fixed odds favourite spots, it is hard to envision another Men’s Singles challenger. Iga Swiatek, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are the top three women’s favourites with Serena Williams being priced at 14/1 to claim a 24th Grand Slam.

Men’s French Open

It’s common knowledge that Nadal is a clay court demon, with 13 French Open Grand Slams to his name. Nadal won the competition last year without dropping a single set, the Spaniard is the epitome of consistent on clay.

But the French Open journeyman is not without challengers, Novak Djokovic will, as always, be lurking in the background having made the final for the fifth time at Roland Garros last year. Djokovic drew first Grand Slam blood this year, beating Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open to start his 2021 off with a bang.

Dominic Thiem has broken into the top five of late, as the Austrian rallied to capture a maiden US Grand Slam last year. Many believe the 27-year-old to achieve great things, and undoubtedly the French Open is his best chance. The red dirt is the perfect conditions suited for Thiem, and his results at Roland Garros proved that.

French Open 2021 Preview

Daniil Medvedev has managed to carve out a path to a top-three ranking through his consistent and unforgiving play style. The Russian’s form at Roland Garros does not reflect his third-seeded spot, in four appearances he has been knocked out in the first round every time. Stefanos Tsitsipas is another who could pose problems, he enters the tournament after a number two place finish against Rafa Nadal at the Barcelona Open and has also made the final four at the French Open last year.

The French Open delay has also enticed the great Rodger Federer to test out his strings at the Geneva Open from 16-22 May prior to the French Open.

Many believe Rodger Federer’s long-awaited Grand Slam return on his least favourite surface is a part of a plan to peak in time for his beloved Wimbledon. Federer has not competed on clay for the last four years and will be looking to shed the rust of his racket in Geneva.

Women’s French Open

The women’s competition is slightly more open, with the bookies finding it hard to separate the top 15 players. Iga Swiatek last year came from obscurity to become the youngest player since Monica Seles to win the tournament.

Included in the competition is the mighty Simona Halep, a three-time finalist and one-time winner at the French Open. Halep’s durable play style and elite court coverage make her a constant threat on the red dirt.

Further down the list is Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, who is always knocking on the door for another Grand Slam and she also currently occupies the world number one spot. Barty, a former French Open winner, has missed a number of Grand Slams, including this one last year.

One woman who has reached the upper echelons of the sport is that of Naomi Osaka. At just the young age of 23, Osaka has four Grand Slams attached to her résumé and seems to be destined to win a plethora of titles in the near future. The American, has, however, struggles on clay in her last four appearances at Roland Garros and has been knocked out in the first round twice.

There are a host of other chances in what seems to be an unpredictable Women’s French Open tournament. Serena Williams is on the cusp of her 40th birthday but her age doesn’t seem to matter to her, making it to the semi-finals of her last two Grand Slams and as a three-time winner her she’ll be expected to go into the later rounds.

Both the men and the women’s French Open could hardly look different. Nadal will be the man to conquer while the women’s draw is a difficult affair to predict. Despite the various differences, however, the tournament is shaping up to be an intriguing competition with some of the best tennis in the world on show.

Breaking Down the Numbers Between Tennis’ Big Three

The debate rumbles on about who is the greatest men’s singles player of all time in tennis. Three of the leading players in that discussion are still playing today: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

By the time those players retire from the sport, their numbers may be enough for them to stand out as the best in the men’s game to ever pick up a racquet. Here is a look at who is currently leading the way out of those trio of stars in the respective tallies.

Grand Slam Wins

This is the one that is the most important. The four Grand Slam events are the ones which tennis players focus on much more. When a player retires from tennis, their career is defined by how many Grand Slam titles they won.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are currently locked on 20 wins each. Nadal joined his great rival at the top of the tally when he claimed the 2020 French Open, his 13th success in the tournament at Roland-Garros.

Djokovic is two behind Federer and Nadal on 18 Grand Slam wins. The world number one is the most dominant player in the sport at the moment though, and at the age of just 33, he will fancy winning more than 20 before he ends his career.

The next opportunity for the three all-time greats to win a Grand Slam will come at the French Open in June. The King of Clay, Nadal, is the odds-on favourite at 5/6 in the tennis betting in Paris. A 14th win in the tournament could prove a big step towards separating himself from his two rivals.

World Number One Spot

Current number one Djokovic has held the top spot in the ATP rankings for the most time in history. The Serbian has been there for 317 weeks and that number should extend this year as he has some distance between himself and the pack in the list.

Federer has had the number one position for 300 weeks. He is now down to number eight in the current rankings and at the age of 39, it is hard to see the Swiss legend climbing back to the top again.

Nadal has been world number one for the least amount of time out of the three players. He has been there for 209 weeks. Injuries have hampered the Spaniard at various stages of his career, otherwise that number would most likely have been much bigger.

Olympic Gold

The other big event outside of the four Grand Slams in tennis is the Olympic Games. Tokyo is the chance of all the leading men’s and women’s players to experience stepping up on the podium receiving the gold medal.

Nadal is the only one of the trio of legends who has won singles gold in the Olympics. He achieved that feat in 2008 in Beijing, beating Fernando Gonzalez in the final. Federer does have a gold medal following doubles success. He partnered Stan Wawrinka in 2008 to victory in the event.

Federer and Djokovic will be desperate to prevail in the singles tournament in 2021. It will be played on a hard court at the Ariake Coliseum.

Although tennis fans may continue to have their own opinion around who is the best ever in the men’s game, there is no doubt we are unlikely to see an era like this one again any time soon.

Who Have Been The Standout Players in Euros History?

With the Euros just around the corner and set to take place in the summer, there is a lot of talk about who the standout players of the tournament will be. When assessing whether anyone will be able to go down in history, though, it is wise to look at the greats from the past to see where the benchmark has been set. Here are a few players to watch out for in the tournament, along with the legends of yesteryear they aim to displace.

Players Looking to Make Their Mark This Summer

Many people are looking forward to watching the Euro Cup live using online streams that play all the games available. Viewing it this way means that there is little chance of missing any of the action. The alternative method would be to watch what the television networks in your location are showing, but then you’d be at the mercy of scheduling as to which games you’d be able to watch.

Whichever way people choose to watch the games, it goes without saying that all eyes will be on the star players from each country to see what they can do on the world stage. There is likely to be a lot of attention focused on players like Harry Kane for England, Kylian Mbappe for France, Bruno Fernandes for Portugal, and Romelu Lukaku for Belgium. All of these superstars are going into the tournament in red hot form for their respective clubs, but which one is going to set the world stage alight with their performances?

The Greats They Need to Live up to

There have been 15 European Championships to date since the competition began in 1960, and in that time there have been some memorable performances from some of the world’s best players.

One player that many will agree has left his mark on the tournament is Andres Iniesta. The Spanish midfielder won six Man of The Match awards during the 2008, 2012, and 2016 competitions. This is more than anyone else in the tournament’s history. He was an integral part of the Spain team that won back-to-back competitions in 2008 and 2012, and he was named Player of the Tournament in the latter.

It should go without saying that Cristiano Ronaldo has also left his mark on the tournament, and could still go on to be the best player in its history. Since 2008, the Portuguese has been named Man of the Match in five games, and he helped push his country on to victory in the last event. He earned the Silver Boot that year and was also named in the Team of the Tournament.

Some other players that are worthy of mention here include Zinedine Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, and Mesut Ozil. One thing that is noticeable is that a lot of the players considered to have been among the best in the tournament have played in recent years. This suggests the likes of Kane and Mbappe will be thinking they have a good chance to ignite the world stage this year.