After an extended wait, the European Championships are finally set to kick-off when Italy host Turkey in Rome.
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While most football tournaments are based in one country, Euro 2020 will be played in 11 cities in 11 countries, covering all four corners of Europe. The eleven host cities are Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Munich, London, Rome, Seville and Saint Petersburg. Nine will play host to their home nation, while Baku and Bucharest will host neutral games, as Azerbaijan and Romania both failed to qualify.
As a result, most of the nations who achieved qualification will be forced to travel across Europe for the group stages, while some host nations will have the advantage of remaining at home for all three group games. Each group stage has two host cities, but in some cases, certain teams will be required to fly thousands of miles.
With that being said, let us take a look at five teams at Euro 2020 who will earn significant air miles during the group stages.
Switzerland (Group A)
Switzerland – Baku – Rome – Baku (approx. 6,000 miles)
Starting off in Group A, and Switzerland will likely feel hard done by with their schedule. While their other opponents Wales and Turkey will also be required to fly across Europe, Switzerland’s schedule will see them travel the furthest in the group from game to game.
They begin their campaign by taking on Wales in Baku, 2,150 miles from the Swiss capital city of Bern. This game takes place on Saturday, 12 June at 2pm. The Olympic Stadium has confirmed it will operate at 50% of its usual 68,700 capacity, meaning nearly 35,000 fans will be permitted to attend. While Wales will remain in Baku for their second game (against Turkey on Wednesday, 16 June), Switzerland will need to pack their bags immediately after.
Prior to Wednesday, 16 June, they will travel back across Europe to Rome to face Italy. Not only will this be a tough game for Vladimir Petković’s side against a hosting team, but it will involve another lengthy flight. Baku and Rome are a little under 2,000 miles apart. Also, Italy will come into this game with an extra day’s rest, as they face Turkey in their home city a day before Switzerland face Wales. All three of Italy’s group games are at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, which is expected to operate at 25-45% capacity. This means that somewhere between 17,500 and 31500 fans will attend Switzerland’s second game.
Switzerland will then have to hop back on the plane, as they return to Baku to meet Turkey on Sunday, 20 June. Turkey, on the other hand, will not need to travel, as they face Wales in Baku four days earlier. Baku is also significantly closer to home for Turkey, which could mean that more Turkish fans make the trip to support their team.
Switzerland’s estimated travel total from home is more than 6,000 miles. Should they qualify by finishing either first or second in Group A, they will play their Round of 16 game in either Amsterdam or London on Saturday, 26 June.
Belgium (Group B)
Belgium – St Petersburg – Copenhagen – St Petersburg (approx. 2,600 miles)
Despite being one of the favourites to win the tournament, Belgium have one of the toughest travel schedules of all the teams at Euro 2020.
The first game for Roberto Martinez’s men, on Saturday, 12 June, sees them fly east to Saint Petersburg to face Russia. This is around three hours from the Belgian capital city of Brussels. Russia is another host nation, and a 50% capacity crowd is expected at the Krestovsky Stadium. The maximum capacity is 67,800, meaning up to 34,000 fans will be in attendance.
Before their second game on Thursday, 17 June, Belgium travel west to Copenhagen to face a second consecutive Euro 2020 host nation. This time it will be Denmark, with between 25%-45% of the maximum stadium capacity permitted. Parken Stadium can hold up to 38,065 fans, so expect somewhere between 9,500 and 17,000 for this game. All three of Denmark’s group games will be played in Copenhagen, which will give them a real advantage as they look to reach the knockout stages.
Group C will be wrapped up on Monday, 21 June, as Belgium return to Russia. This time around, they will meet Finland in Saint Petersburg. With Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki leading the line, Finland come into this game with an extra day’s rest. They will also already be in Saint Petersburg, after facing Russia in their previous game.
From initially departing Belgium, to the final group stage game, The Belgian side will have travelled over 2,500 miles by plane, with two out of their three games against host nations. If they win the group, they will host a third-place team in Seville on Sunday, 27 June. However, if they finish second, they will travel to Amsterdam a day earlier to face the runner-up in Group A.
Austria (Group C)
Austria – Bucharest – Amsterdam – Bucharest (approx. 2,750 miles)
Next up on the list is Austria. Although there is only one host nation in their group, they will still be required to travel back and forth across Europe in a short space of time.
On Sunday, 13 June, their tournament begins with a trip to Bucharest. There, they will take on North Macedonia. The Arena Națională is set for a 25%-45% capacity, meaning up to 25,020 supporters could attend.
While North Macedonia will remain in Bucharest for their second game, the Austrian team are set to travel to Amsterdam, to take on the Netherlands in their own capital city on Thursday, 17th June. The Netherlands are one of the favourites to win the tournament, and their odds of advancing from the group will be improved by the fact that all their games will take place at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Much like with the Arena Națională, a 25%-45% capacity rule has been enforced in Amsterdam. As the stadium traditionally holds around 55,000 fans, we could see up to 24,750 in the Johan Cruyff Arena for the group stage games.
If any of the Austrian players leave anything behind after their first game, they will have the opportunity to collect it as they return to Bucharest four days later. Their opponents on Monday, 21st June are Ukraine, who will already be in the Romanian capital city after their match with North Macedonia.
All in all, Austria will travel some 2,750 miles throughout the group stages. If they finish second, they will take on the Group A winners in London, and if they win the group, they will face a third-place team in Budapest. These games take place on Saturday, 26 and Sunday, 27 June, respectively.
Poland (Group E)
Poland – St Petersburg – Seville – St Petersburg (approx. 5,000 miles)
Skipping past Group D, as the Czech Republic and Croatia will only be required to travel between London and Glasgow, we move on to Poland. Robert Lewandowski and his teammates are set to travel all over Europe for their three group stage games.
Their campaign kicks off on Monday, 14 June, when they face Slovakia in Saint Petersburg. Their opponents will remain in Saint Petersburg for their second game, when they take on Sweden, but Poland will soon be boarding a flight to the other side of Europe.
Five days after their game against Slovakia, Poland will be in Seville to face Spain, the only host nation in their group. Both sides will have five days rest after their previous game, which will do Poland some favours after their 2,200+ mile, near five-hour flight from Saint Petersburg. Spain will play all three group games in Seville, meaning they will be able to soak up the sun in their home country without the need to travel. 25%-45% of seats have been made available at Estadio La Cartuja, meaning 15,000-27,000 fans could see the Polish side in action.
After a tough test in Spain, Poland will return to Russia for their final game against Sweden. This game takes place on Wednesday, 23 June. While the Swedish team will have to travel 4,000 miles from Stockholm to Seville for their first game, they will at least get some respite, as their final two matches take place in Saint Petersburg. They take on Slovakia in the same stadium four days earlier and will have the advantage of remaining in their hotel for a few extra days.
Including the initial flight from Poland, they will be up in the air for a little over 5,000 miles throughout the group stages, with two 2,200+ mile flights in a handful of days as they travel between Spain and Russia. As far as the Round of 16 goes, a trip to Copenhagen will be on the cards if they finish second, where they will take on the runners-up in Group D. If Poland win Group E, they will play the eighth and final Round of 16 game in Glasgow on Tuesday, 29 June, against a qualifying third-place team.
Portugal (Group F)
Portugal – Budapest – Munich – Budapest (approx. 2,250 miles)
Last but not least, we have Portugal. The reigning champions are in what many would describe as the ‘Group of Death’, taking on the last two World Cup winners in France and Germany, as well as a Hungary side who are one of the nine host nations. Germany is also a host nation, meaning Portugal will feel like the away team in two thirds of their group stage games.
Looking to defend their European title, Portugal’s Euro 2020 journey begins on Tuesday, 15 June, with a trip to Budapest. There, they will face Hungary in their capital city. The Puskás Aréna is the only stadium that aims to host 100% of its maximum capacity, which could see 67,215 fans in attendance in the Hungarian capital.
Four days later, Portugal travel north to Munich for their second consecutive game against a host nation. This time, it will be the 2014 World Cup winners Germany who welcome them to the Allianz Arena. While most famous for being the home of Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, the stadium is also often used for Germany’s international matches. According to UEFA, Munich aims to host a minimum of 14,500 spectators, which works out as approximately 22% of the stadium’s maximum capacity for international fixtures. In his final campaign as German manager, Joachim Löw will be keen to go out on a high, as he is set to leave after the tournament ends.
For their final game of the group stages, Portugal will return to Budapest to face the World champions, France on Wednesday, 23 June, at 8pm. Didier Deschamps men will already be in Budapest, after their clash with Hungary on Saturday, 19 June. This game, along with the other Group F tie between Germany and Hungary, will be the final games of the group stages, as the knockouts begin three days later. While the teams who finish first and second in Group F will wait until Monday, and Tuesday, of the following week for their Round of 16 game, if a team advances in third from this group, they could play as early as Sunday.
All in all, Portugal will travel around 2,250 miles by plane for the group stages.