It has been a long and tough year since the announced Euro 2020 postponement.
International football has never felt so far away, and yet we are now just a week away from the first ball kicked at the European Championship.
The much-needed morale boost that tournament football provides is poised to breathe new life into the nation, with England’s Gareth Southgate even tipped to go the full distance.
With all the excitement and thrills to look forward to, Sports post blew through the reasons why now is the time to get excited for the imminent arrival of the euro.
With one week to go, it’s now time to get excited about the European Championship
England’s youth team
Taking young people to a tournament is sometimes seen as a bad thing. It can be seen as scraping the barrel or just running out of options.
But not for Southgate.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Three Lions currently possess some of the best young players in European football.
Think Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount.
With people like Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho, England they have an electric squad
Each and every one of the stars who have made a huge impact this season, not only during their own domestic campaigns, but also on the biggest stage of them all in the Champions League.
This is a new England and offers a glimpse of the blueprint of the future.
It’s not often that fans in international football witness a full and exciting transition period when it turns into a major tournament, but now England are ready to show what tomorrow’s players can really do.
‘Home’ matches could revive the spirit of Euro ’96
Ask any English fan of a particular vintage about the best times in support of the national team, and they’ll remember the heights of Euro ’96 with rosy eyes.
A feel-good factor pumped across the country as the Three Lions reached the semi-finals and were only denied a place in the final two due to penalties.
A feel-good factor flooded England during Euro ’96 as the games were at home
The weather was beautiful, the team was great and the confidence couldn’t have been greater.
With England playing every one of their matches at Wembley, there is an opportunity to recreate this feeling.
A collective push from the team and the fans could see the nation uniting as one, propelling the squad to take that one step beyond the last tournament, when they reached the final four of the World Cup in Russia.
Fans are back!
Of course, it should be noted that the lifeblood of the game is finally back.
Football without fans is nothing, that much is a given.
Now, with the easing of the coronavirus restrictions and the test drives that have already taken place to get some supporters back into the stadiums, steps are being taken to get football stadiums back to full capacity.
Supporters are finally back in stadiums, ready to roar about their country from the stands
This means roaring chants, banners, flags, dashes of color and industrial amounts of make-up.
Everything that makes football great always culminates in an international tournament, which becomes an actual football festival.
Supporters are now returning at the perfect time to ensure that this tradition can continue.
Competitions all over Europe
While travel conditions have been met with confusion and difficulty over the past 18 months, the concept of the Euros being held across multiple host cities is still an exciting one.
Some of the best stadiums on the continent will host the best players, allowing fans from all over Europe to join in the action.
The action starts at the beautiful Stadio Olimpico in Rome
The cosmopolitan theme is seen as a concept for future tournaments and a sign of things to come.
Euro 2020 will therefore, pandemic aside, be a test drive for this and reveal the ways in which it can benefit fans and players alike.
The Return of the Scots
After spending some 23 years in the wilderness of international tournament football, Scotland will have all the motivation they need to keep going and make Euro 2020 a memorable one.
Led by Liverpool star Andy Robertson, the Scots have a mix of experience and exciting talents, with staff practicing their craft across the various English and Scottish divisions.
The scenes greeting Scotland’s qualification to the tournament saw the country painted blue for days. ‘Yes sir, I can boogie’ could be heard on every street corner.
Scotland is back and can play football without pressure or expectation
Scotland now has the chance to make real waves and make history.
As with Wales at Euro 2016, the pressure is off and there are no expectations on the side. The plan is simple: get out there and play your football.
It came in handy for Wales, of course, as they reached the semi-finals in France five years ago against all odds.
Could Scotland follow suit and shock the football world? If nothing else, a tasty group match with England is on the agenda to take care of the fireworks.
The Redemption of Karim Benzema
Perhaps the most surprising call from any team participating in the tournament.
Benzema has been in French exile for six years after unsavory accusations of blackmail against former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The Real Madrid striker had been categorically told he would never return to the national team, despite his continued denial of any wrongdoing.
Now, however, Didier Deschamps has swallowed his pride and made a full U-turn.
Karim Benzema has returned from exile in France and is ready to lead the national side
Veteran striker Benzema was just too good at Real this season to ignore.
He may be 33, but he’s hammered home like no tomorrow. The ravishing prospect of linking him to Kylian Mbappe has proved too good to turn down.
France has been installed as the favorites for the tournament as a result, and what an end to one of football’s strangest redemption stories this might well bring.
Does anyone remember Joachim Low from the last European Championship showdown in France?
Well, to refresh the memory, the German boss was caught on camera multiple times during Euro 2016 stroking his lower echelons and then sniffing his fingers.
Was it a stress mechanism, a sign of general discomfort, or a routine habit? No one will ever know.
One thing is certain, no one will ever forget it either.
It’s the little moments that can really make international tournaments great, and Low’s redhead on-camera episode is a reminder that even the tiniest management mishaps don’t go unnoticed on the big stage.
Everyone loves a good goal, no matter who scores it.
The Euros have undergone some scorching efforts over the years. You might even think that players are saving them on purpose.
At the last European championship, Dimitri overtook Payet from a great distance to bring the home country into a jubilant mood.
And who can forget Hal Robson-Kanu’s iconic turn and finish against Belgium to leave an entire stadium in shock, or Xherdan Shaqiri’s breathtaking acrobatic effort from the edge of the field against Poland?
Each tournament brings with it a series of goals that are immediately poster worthy. We hope for much more this summer.