With Chelsea's UEFA Champions League Final victory over Manchester City yesterday evening the whole of Europe and also us at FM Base now turn our attention to the delayed UEFA European Championships.
We all know the reasons as to why it is taking place in 2021 but for the purposes of escapism I'm choosing not to mention it.
With only 12 days to go until the tournament kicks off with Italy hosting Turkey in Rome we at FM Base thought we would let FM21 give us a little sneak peek of what we can expect over the next 6 to 7 weeks. Can Cristiano Ronaldo take Portugal to another final?
Can Joachim Low end his tenure with Die Mannschaft with a trophy? Can Gareth Southgate FINALLY bring football home? There are so many questions for Football Manager to answer. Shall we begin?
To play with the correct UEFA Euro 2020 groups in Football Manager 2021 see this video by Content Creator DodgeeGamer: Click here!
The Group Stages
Beginning with Group A we saw one of the tournament favourites Italy top the group ahead of Switzerland after amassing 7 points. Striker Ciro Immobile scoring in each of the Azzuri's group games. Wales were out before their final game after defeats to Italy and Switzerland but did manage to salvage a point as they shared the points with Turkey in the final game of the group.
Group B featuring Belgium, Russia, Denmark and Finland went just how you would have expected it to. Roberto Martinez' Red Devils easied their way to three wins from three with Russia finishing behind them with six points. Denmark and Filand failed to get going but did register a point each after drawing 2-2 with each other.
Group C saw Ukraine progress in 3rd place becoming the first of four teams to go through via the 'best 3rd placed' rule. Their win in their opening game against North Macedonia doing the trick for them. It was the Netherlands who topped the group however ahead of Austria.
Group D provided some real drama as against all odds it was Scotland who topped the group ahead of England via the head-to-head rule. A 3-1 win for the Scots over England in the final group game seeing them go through as group winners. The Czech Republic sneaked through also in 3rd whilst Luka Modric's Croatia were out at the first hurdle. Was anyone expecting THAT?
Spain were the winners of Group E where Ferran Torres impressed heavily. Spain's 4-0 win over Poland would prove to be the biggest winning margin of the compeition. Slovakia joined Luis Enrique's men in progressing whilst Poland and Sweden - with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in tow - bowed out.
That leaves us with Group F - hailed as the 'group of death - which saw something truly remarkable. Germany topped the group with France in second place which was a largely expected outcome. Hungary finished in 3rd ahead of Portugal but progressed due to their 3rd place record. That leaves Portugal out of the competition does it not?
Apparently it doesn't! Portugals 3-1 win over France in their second group game - a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo - saw them also obtain a 'best placed finish' meaning all four teams from Group F progressed. Now I'm not sure if that is possible in real life or whether it is a rules issue in the database but at least we can saw we have some drama!
Scotland marched on to the quarter-finals with a comeback victory over Hungary in Amsterdam. Andy Robertson scoring a 76th minute winner to send the Tartan Army through shortly after Szalai was sent off - he had also put the Hungarians ahead!
Goals from Okafor and Sefervoic saw Switzerland progress against Austria in Budapest whilst it took extra time for Spain to see off the Ukraine in Copenhagen. Paco Alcacer's 88th minute equaliser preventing Spain from heading home earlier than they would have wished.
Insigne's early strike downed Russia at Wembley to see Roberto Mancini's Italy through to the quarter finals and England were to progress at Wembley also the very next day as a Tammy Abraham double put Slovakia to the sword.
Bruno Fernandes and Memphis Depay scored within a minute of eachother as Portugal and the Netherlands finished 1-1 leaving 39-YEAR-OLD Bruno Alves to step up and net the winning penalty in the shootout in Seville. Chelsea duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner both scored as Germany defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 in Bucharest.
The final game in the second round took place at Hampden Park between two of the tournament heavyweights in France and Belgium. It was the world champions who progressed after early goals from Griezmann and Pogba saw Les Bleus run out 2-0 winners.
It was the end of the road for both Switzerland and Scotland at the quarter final stage as Spain and Germany both cruised to 3-0 wins. Ferran Torres once again on the scoresheet for Enrique's side with Timo Werner also amongst the goals once again for the DFB.
France were lucky to progress in Baku as they defeated Italy 1-0. The match statistics were largely in the Azzuri's favour but Raphael Varane's header in the 87 minute was enough to put Didier Deschamps closer to yet another international tournament final.
Jadon Sancho was on target in the 25 minute to end Portugal's run as we probably saw the last of Cristiano Ronaldo on the international stage. With the remaining games at Wembley was this finally the time for England to get their hands on a trophy?
The first semi-final was an absolute thriller. France led 2-0 through Pogba and Ousmane Dembele but a penalty from Oyarzabal and own goal from quarter-final hero Varana saw Spain force extra time and eventually penalties. Griezmann's miss gifted the opportunity to Sergi Roberto to send the Spaniards into the final. He duly converted.
The following day it was Euro 1996 all over again. England vs Germany at Wembley in a European Championship semi-final and it was rather fitting that the game was settled via a penalty. Harry Kane's 42 minute spot kick saw the Three Lions through to banish Gareth Southgate's demons. The final was set.
Five goals in a final? You don't see if often but it happened here as Spain were crowned European Champions for the third time in the last four tournaments. Some record, right? Ansu Fati and Harry Kane had the game level at 1-1 at half time but Sergi Roberto's 50th minute goal had Wembley silenced.
It took unil the 91st minute for another goal as Ferran Torres settled the game and also the golden boot award. Marcus Rashford scored only two minutes later but it was all too late. England defeated at Wembley as Spain celebrated winning Euro 2020.
Is that how you see the tournament unfolding? All group stage standings and results can be found by clicking the links below as well as the tournament overview screen featuring top scorers and assisters.
So what do we take from that? Scotland excited, Joachim Low and Cristiano Ronaldo bowed out of the international game, Belgium's golden generation failed once again, Southgate didn't bring football 'home' and Spain danced at Wembley after winning the whole thing - it was definitely a great simulation!
I've been TarrantinoUX - click the links below to see more from me.
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