Managers have been looking ahead to Euro 2020 throughout the season, but their plans must change between now and next summer as form rises and drops. Players set to miss out through injury have regained hope, while others will see their time pass before 2021.
Who are the winners and losers from UEFA’s decision to postpone? Bet on football here.
Winner – England
After semi-final exits at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Nations League, expectations were high for England in Euro 2020. However, injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford at the start of the year had dampened the optimism.
Following the postponement, both players will now have a better chance to be match-fit. Prospects such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount should have more Premier League minutes, while Leicester’s James Maddison will have tasted the Champions League. There is the added bonus that Liverpool’s English contingent will be fresher without another busy season.
Winner – France
France’s World Cup winning side of 2018 boasted a midfield of Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi. Fast forward two years and the former duo have suffered injury-hit campaigns, with under 2,400 minutes of club football between them. Matuidi, meanwhile, would have turned 33 by the start of Euro 2020.
Postponing allows Pogba and Kante the chance to be fit for the tournament. Furthermore, Tanguy Ndombele, Corentin Tolisso and Thomas Lemar will all have time to stake their place as Matuidi’s heir.
Winners - Eden Hazard and Memphis Depay
Hazard’s Real Madrid career has not started as he would have hoped. The Belgian missed 16 games of the season and had only just recovered before an ankle injury ended his campaign. His return has been just one goal and five assists. There is no doubting his powers when on top form and, should he steer clear of injuries, he can be a key part of Belgium’s quest to lift their first major trophy.
Like Hazard, Depay’s season was cut short. The Dutch forward had scored 14 goals in 18 games until December and seemed set to front the Netherlands on their return to the tournament. Injury took that away, but the decision to postpone Euro 2020 offers a fresh opportunity.
Loser – Cristiano Ronaldo
His debut season at Juventus saw him adjust to life in the Serie A, but this year Ronaldo has arrived in Italy. The Portuguese has 21 league goals this term and last month equalled the record for scoring in ten consecutive matches.
While he remains one of the world’s best players, he recently turned 35 and Euro 2020 was likely to be his last UEFA international tournament. That it will come a year later is not ideal, especially given that the holders have been drawn in a group with France and Germany. Given his current form, he would have preferred the tournament sooner rather than later.
Loser - Italy
Ronaldo’s exploits have been just one factor in the rise of Italian football this season. Inter have become challengers once more, Atalanta have reached the Champions League quarter finals and Napoli demonstrated how to overcome a dominant Liverpool side. Top-scorer Ciro Immobile has fired Lazio to title contention.
It is a shame, then, that this momentum could be lost by 2021. The Azzurri boasted a 100% record in qualifying, but Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne will have both turned 30 by next summer. Will they still be in form?