The stage is set for the 16th edition of the UEFA Euro to kick off from June 11. For the first time in history, the tournament is spread across 11 different venues in Europe, and so the 24 nations vying to win the prestigious trophy have disparate distances to travel through the tournament.
Switzerland: 6,218 miles
The Swiss go from Bern to Rome, where they have set camp before flying to Baku to play Wales and then returning to Rome for the Italy game and they again go back to Baku for the third group fixture against Turkey.
Poland: 5,876 miles
The Poles open their campaign in St Petersburg, would head back home, shift to Sevilla for the Spain game, return home and then fly to St. Petersburg for the Sweden fixture in a week’s time.
Belgium: 5,690 miles
The World No.1 team launches their title quest at St Petersburg, would fly back to their camp in Brussels, before zipping to Copenhagen for the Denmark game, would return home and then fly to St Petersburg and back home.
Comforts of home
Italy: 0 miles
The last time Italy played so many games at home in a big tournament was back in 1990 when they hosted the World Cup. It turned out to be a terrific tournament until they slipped up against Argentina in the semifinals. Having won their only European Cup in 1968 and lost two finals in this century, the reinvigorated Italians under Roberto Mancini would look to mount a serious title challenge. Italy have always fared well with functional-looking teams than one full of stars.
England: 0 miles
Their best chance to bring the Cup home, as they play all their league games at home, and if they top the group, the pre-quarterfinal too could be at Wembley. If all goes well, they just need to travel for the quarterfinal game (in Rome), as the semifinals and the final would in England’s most storied ground. Talent-wise, they have the best squad in 10 years, but with England, often, it’s not just about the quality, but their collectivism.
Germany: 0 miles
No side has reached the Euro finals as frequently as Germany but their build-up to this edition has been chaotic. However, a midfield comprising Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gündogan and Toni Kroos could be more than devastating. Thomas Muller’s return to form has been revitalising, as is the re-emergence of Antonio Rüdiger to shore up an uncharacteristically shaky backline.
Spain: 0 miles
The two-time champions would play at home, but at perhaps the ungainliest stadium in the country, the Stadium La Cartuja in Sevilla. But Luis Enrique has assembled a youthful side with a fluid style of play and oodles of imagination. Not quite in the Xavi-Iniesta class, but still bestowed with grace and vision to enthral the connoisseurs. They have steely defenders and slick midfielders, though lack of firepower upfront could choke their progress past the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands: 0 miles
Had the Euros been held last year as per schedule, the Dutch would have been genuine contenders. Coach Ronald Koeman, who architected the team, has moved to Barcelona. Defensive rock Virgil van Dijk would have been available too. Since Frank de Boer has taken charge, their form has withered, but they still have the ammo to reach the last four.
Denmark: 0 miles
There are not as back-woodsy a side as they were in 1992, but they are still not a balanced side yet. They are reputed for the stodgy defence and tenacity, and if one of their forwards could step up, they could find the goals too. Reaching last-16 would not be too much of a hassle, but if Christian Eriksen hits the straps, they could be potential dark horses.