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From Bucharest to Baku

55 years of hurt. It’s coming home etc.

A year later than planned, but the compendium of European nation football starts tonight, at 4pm my local time when Turkey play Italy in Rome.

The largest ever finals, played across Europe. I’m sure it was a good idea at the time. A global pandemic and the impact on environment and climate must have fallen off the agenda.

51 games and a whole month of football to whet the appetite for another Addicks’ L1 season 🤔

There will be real people in stadiums too. Most stadiums will be between 25% and 50% of capacity. Wembley is 25% although after the (hopefully) key date of June 21st it could hold a lot more. The largest crowds are expected in Budapest which is planning full capacity of 68,000…. each one wearing a face mask. We’ll see.

However from research there seems no restrictions to watching games outside in the street. The throwing of beer in the air is a compulsory order!

Remarkably England are joint favourites to win the whole thing with France, who look a little bit tasty on paper. The French squad runs deep with talent.

If there ever was a group of death though, it is France’s Group F. Germany, Portugal and Hungary are in there as well. England will play the runners up in this group if we top our own. Finishing 2nd creates less of a banana skin by playing potentially Sweden or Poland, but there is no avoiding Group F as one of of those sides will lie in wait in the Quarters.

There are real slouches in our group. We are with Scotland, the auld enemy clashing next Friday after we play a more recent enemy Croatia on Sunday. Wales present Charlton’s only participation with 100+ caps Chris Gunter in their squad. Wales, who were semi-finalists in 2016 start against a pretty consistent Switzerland on Saturday.

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the other nations, and I will need to build up my knowledge and prognosis by watching the Group games.

Taking a look at the obvious favourites. Italy and the Netherlands are not very major tournament battle hardened. Spain no longer has the household names of their glory days, defending champs Portugal look to have completely rebuilt around the effervescent Ronaldo, Germany are, well, German and it is Belgium’s golden generation’s last opportunity. Then there is France. Outside bets? Turkey or Ukraine.

England looked pretty awful in recent friendlies, but then again he had players playing that are not even in the squad. We have the familiar injury issue, and the weight of expectation, but I just hope we get to go deep in the tournament like we did in Russia to get the country smiling after a desperate 18 months.

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