The Euro 2020 Fiver: hope, hubris, resignation and despair

And so to Rome. And then Baku, and then Copenhagen, and we’d love to keep this up for all 51 games of the European Championship, thus fulfilling our word count for today’s Fiver without breaking into a thought never mind a sweat. But we really don’t want to get on the wrong side of The Man, especially while he’s engrossed in The Brewdog Guide to Employee Morale. Besides, today is about happiness and positivity – it’s Euros Day, the start of an international tournament like no other.

在 11 六月 2021, a fashionable 364 days later than planned, Euro Not 2020 is finally about to begin. It will be played across 12 国家, which is one hell of a biosecure bubble. But aside from the nagging fear that a dramatic Covid outbreak will force England to start a vital game with a front pair of Marcus Rashford and Tom Kerridge, The Fiver is in a pretty good mood. BECAUSE IT’S ONLY JOLLY WELL COMING HOME! Yep, we’re already deep into the usual tournament cycle of hope, hubris, resignation, despair and violence. There’s another element this year, our increasing fixation with Jack Grealish. For the next month, The Fiver plans to live vicariously through his effervescent genius and black-and-blue shinbones.

EN 2020 is an open competition in more ways than one – there are 12 hosts and probably seven conceivable winners, eight if you count England. (We’re already at the resignation stage.) The tournament also has a storming Group of Death (法国, 德国, Portugal and Hungary), although the structure makes it possible for three teams to go through. France are many people’s favourites, primarily because they are allowed to play with 12 人, but you can make a decent case for Belgium, 葡萄牙, 德国, 意大利, 西班牙, England and one other country we’re not going to name, thus covering us against accusations of typical anti-suchandsuch bias. Given the history of the Euros – Czechoslovakia, 丹麦, 希腊, even Portugal last time – we shouldn’t rule out a surprise winner either.

Win, lose or be patronised to within an inch of their existence, the smaller nations provide some of the best stories, even more so since it was increased to 24 teams. Scotland are back on the big stage for the first time since 1998; Wales don’t want to go home from Baku; Finland and North Macedonia are playing in their first major tournament; and Turkey have some very exciting young players. That palpably gratuitous mention also allows us to segue to Friday’s opening match: Turkey v Italy in Rome. (Yes, Turkey are officially the home team, yes it is being played in Rome.) The weekend games include Wales v Switzerland, Denmark v Finland and England v Croatia. But for now, all we care about is Turkey v Italy. It’s Friday night and something’s kicking off. See, life really is starting to get back to normal.

The Euros countdown blog is here, while Scott Murray will be on hand for hot opening-ceremony nonsense and MBM coverage of Turkey 0-0 Italy at 8pm BST.

“I’m happy for my teammates and our staff, but I am even happier for our supporters who have waited so long for this day to come. They deserve a little bit of luck” – Finland skipper Tim Sparv on why the nation can’t wait for their tournament bow.

Get ready for Euro Not 2020 with Football Weekly Extra. And a reminder: the pod goes daily from here.

“Damn, something positive about Australia in The Fiver? Your piece about Big Ange (yesterday’s Fiver) was a disgrace! I come here for predictably unfunny nationalist stereotyping, not for this kind of common-sense objectivity. You will have my un-subscription in the next post” – Nick Shimmin.

“I was surprised to read that new Queen’s Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is undertaking his Pro-Licence solely for European competitions. Sounds like a lot of effort for two games” – Tim Woods.

“May I tweak the proposed competition title of Noble Francis (yesterday’s Fiver letters) and nominate The Fiver for the award of bored middle-aged sportswriters stuck in dead-end jobs that they have no chance of escaping?” – Gerry Rickard.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Tim Woods.

Former PM Gordon Brown wants the government to support the England team’s decision to take the knee before matches and stop fighting culture wars. Some chance. “I think we should support the team when it does this and I hope the crowds who are at the matches will acknowledge that the footballers are doing something very, very important – they are bringing the whole country together,“ 他说.

Russia have replaced midfielder Andrei Mostovoy with defender Roman Yevgenyev after the former’s latest coronavirus test came back with “unfavourable results”.

Jadon Sancho insists England is his primary focus as Manchester United bean-counters frantically low-balled an initial offer to Dortmund in the background. “I don’t really look at it,” he sighed. “You know, there’s always going to be speculation. It’s just how you handle that on the pitch.”

Italy coach Roberto Mancini seems to be prioritising vibes. “I think after everything we have gone through, now is the time to try and put a smile back on faces,” he tooted. “We want people to enjoy themselves and have fun.”

And Scotland’s Andy Robertson has got the squad pumped for the Euros after providing themed gift packs for all the players. “There were Apple watches, earphones. There was a shirt, shortbread, Irn-Bru, a lot of stuff to do with Scotland,” whooped Kevin Nisbet. You’re still thinking about the non-Scottish themed stuff.

David Moyes 2.0 is only an autograph away from confirming a new three-year deal at West Ham.

Manchester City Women have completed the signing of England youth international Ruby Mace. “As a 17-year-old, it’s the biggest moment in my short career so far,” she cheered.

And Harry Kewell is the new flamin’ manager of Barnet, who only survived relegation from the National League after relegation was scrapped for the season.

Our writers give their tournament predictions so that you can laugh at them for knowing nothing when North Macedonia are crowned champions.

After delays and dashed hopes, the wait is over and the Euro Not 2020 party is here, roars Jonathan Liew in Rome.

Eventual winners can start badly. It’s how they react that counts, writes Big Website columnist Pernille Harder.

You really should take another look at our 622-player guide so that you can digest off-beat snippets on random players to baffle your mates with.

It’s the last of our guides, 不 23: 匈牙利, with a profile of Roland Sallai, the magic Magyar with football in his blood, to boot. 和 不 24: reigning champions Portugal, 尽管 João Cancelo gets the profile treatment.

And Scotland’s defeat by Morocco in World Cup 98 was not a humiliation, Craig Brown tells himself Ewan Murray.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. 和 INSTACHAT, TOO!

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