Three countries that could ultimately benefit if Euros are pushed back to 2021
The Euro 2020 finals look increasingly vulnerable to postponement because of the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Europe, but could it benefit England?
The Three Lions are currently beset by a number of key injury problems and head coach Gareth Southgate may secretly be happy to take his chances in 2021 instead.
Although captain Harry Kane and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford are expected to return to fitness from their respective hamstring and back injuries before the scheduled end of the season, they may not be fully back in the goalscoring groove by early June.
And with so many talented young players coming through for England right now, Southgate would surely hold a stronger hand in a year’s time, when the likes of Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden have had a further 12 months to mature.
Uefa are adamant that the finals, due to be staged in several cities across the continent this time, will still take place in 2020, but it is an ever-changing situation in which they may be ultimately powerless to prevent a postponement.
The governing body will rely on the decisions of the various governments of hosting nations and are already lobbying hard for the 24-team event to go ahead.
That means Boris Johnson’s cabinet could hold the fate of the nation’s footballers in his own hands. However, England may not be the only nation with a better chance to succeed if the finals are shifted to 2021.
Take Italy for example. The country is currently going through the worst of the outbreak and sporting issues are way down their priority list at the moment.
NEW: Euro 2020
– UEFA asks govts to allow Euros to go ahead
– UEFA told by @WHO #coronavirus not expected to be contained by June
– UEFA told cities should be able to host if they have medical facilities to cope with treating virus and cover for gameshttps://t.co/HPhKiflvqz
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) March 10, 2020
This week the Italian football authorities, the FIGC, said after a meeting that the Serie A season may not finish because of the grave situation that has seen the entire 60million population quarantined.
A FIGC statement confirmed Serie A would stop until 3 April following a government decree, drastically affecting both the title race and also the preparations of Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini.
He will be fit sometime later in 2020 and could be back bossing midfields at club and international level by the time June 2021 comes around.
A year ago the outstanding candidate to lead his nation to glory in the Euros would have been Eden Hazard, but the Belgian has endured a disastrous first campaign at Real Madrid.
Delaying the finals by a year would give the ex-Chelsea star a real shot at recovering from his recent ankle operation, shedding a few pounds and rediscovering his best form – all of which look doubtful on the current deadline.