It’s unavoidable that this year’s tournament format has advantaged some nations at the expense of others.
Sunday marks the final of a EURO tournament five years in the making, with England taking on Italy in a battle of soccer blue bloods for continental supremacy.
It’s been a gripping, exciting, somewhat unpredictable tournament, with Group of Death teams France, Portugal, and Germany all bowing out in the Round of 16 and a stacked Belgium squad falling in the quarterfinals.
These EUROs have also not exactly been the fairest competition we’ve ever seen, traditionally speaking.
This year’s unprecedented, admittedly odd EURO match format saw 11 cities host games across the continent in honor of the tournament’s 60th anniversary. Italy, Russia, Netherlands, England, Spain, and Germany were all able to play their three group stage matches at home, with Scotland conveniently placed in the Three Lions’ group to boot.
Coming Home (for the Sixth Time)
Each of the aforementioned half-dozen host teams got an additional knockout stage match at their home venues with the exception of Russia and England. St. Petersburg received three extra knockout games to give the city a total of seven, while London’s Wembley Stadium got an additional four matches, including both semifinals and England’s final against the Azzuri on Sunday.
“It’s coming home” is the famous rallying cry for Engish fans. But with every single one of its EURO 2020 matches coming at Wembley aside from a 4-0 quarterfinal thrashing of Ukraine in Rome, it’s already been home for Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Seven games, six of them at home.
(Interestingly enough, England was the host country for the 1966 World Cup — the last time they won an international trophy.)
To be clear, England has enjoyed a home-field advantage at EURO 2020 unsurpassed by any other nation in this competition, with thousands more than the announced crowd of 63,000 packing Wembley for Wednesday’s thrilling extra-time semifinal triumph over Denmark.
By comparison, Italy had to go from London to Germany and back again for the knockouts after spending the group stage at the friendly Stadio Olimpico.
For a tournament that was billed as cross-continental affair, it was disproportionately “home” for the Three Lions. And it’s been more than enough for UEFA President Alexsander Ceferin to declare that this multi-territorial model would not be repeated anytime soon based on legitimate concerns regarding not just the support of home crowds, but advantages related to travel distance.
Yes, much of the scheduling oddity is due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the practical effect on the feel of the tournament (and potentially some of its results) can’t be ignored.
Transfer Values to the Moon
Several individual players who have starred for Southgate’s side have and will greatly benefit from this tournament for the rest of the summer and beyond, and the Wembley advantage certainly hasn’t hurt matters in that regard.
Harry Kane’s four goals are just one behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the EURO 2020 Golden Boot race, further increasing his potential value on the transfer market. After publicly asking out of Tottenham Hotspur back in May, the striker’s estimated market value has skyrocketed to $132 million according to Transfermarkt, the third-highest figure in the world behind only Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
Manchester City is the most likely Kane suitor, with the Premier League champs reportedly offering $140 million to pry the 27-year-old away from Spurs, whose asking price is said to be upwards of $200 million.
Interestingly, a Kane transfer to City would likely mean the end of England teammate Raheem Sterling’s tenure with Pep Guardiola’s club. At $99 million, Sterling is Transfermarkt’s 12th-most valuable player in the world, and would have a long, long list of suitors in multiple countries.
A number of English players further proved themselves to be on the rise this summer, including Sterling’s Man City teammate, Phil Foden, Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount, West Ham midfielder/defender Declan Rice, and Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka. But Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has emerged as a unique catalyst for the English attack off the bench, and his Transfermarkt estimated value is up to $71.5 million as a result.
Villa likely won’t accept a transfer offer for Grealish of less than $100 million, and a strong final against Italy could boost his value even further.
Looking for major unsung hero of this tournament? Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips is suddenly generating explosive buzz. His market value is at $33 million at Transfermarkt and rapidly rising, making him an appealing target for bigger clubs who want to grab a surging talent without shell out the major money.
Perhaps for one lucky club, the 25-year-old Phillips will be what’s coming home. If and when that happens, to say nothing of established superstars like Kane and Sterling, England’s Wembley advantage will have officially translated into major wins that extend far beyond EURO 2020.