Scotland are set to end their 23-year wait to play in a major tournament Monday, and Spain, hit by COVID, prepared to face Sweden later today.
Playing at the highest level for the first time since the 1998 World Cup, the Scots will face the Czech Republic in Glasgow at 14:00 GMT, before a new Spanish appearance attempts to clinch a fourth European title without captain Sergio. Busquets, tested positive for coronavirus.
Scotland’s Group D game was slightly overshadowed by the racism ban that excluded Czech defender Ondrej Kudela from the tournament.
The Slavia Prague player has been suspended for 10 games for abusing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara during a Europa League visit to Scotland in March.
“I don’t believe he said anything racist to him, there was no evidence, but a lot of people on the islands (in UK) condemned him and he received a harsh sentence,” said Czech Republic and West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek.
Scottish fans are sure to celebrate at Hampden Park as their squad are finally back in the open.
“I hope this inspires a nation, I hope we can make them happy. You can already feel a real buzz all over the country, ”said Scotland captain Andy Robertson.
England get off to a winning start
England launched their bid for Euro 2020 glory on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Croatia.
Raheem Sterling scored in a sunny Wembley as they won their first game of a European Championship final for the first time on the 10th attempt.
Sterling scored his first goal in a major tournament as England took some revenge on their 2018 World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia.
The striker’s impeccable finish in the second half was enough for the home side to send the Wembley crowd home happy.
Sterling grew up in the shadow of Wembley in London and vindicated manager Gareth Southgate’s decision to trust him by scoring the only goal just ahead of the hour.
“I always said if I played Wembley in a major tournament I would score. I had to score in my garden and I was delighted to do so, ”he told the BBC.
England, who are looking to end a 55-year wait for a major trophy, will play all three group matches at their London home. If they are at the top of Group D, they will also play there in the round of 16, while London will also host the two semi-finals as well as the final on July 11.
The Netherlands, back in a major tournament for the first time since 2014, beat Ukraine 3-2 in a thrilling Group C encounter in Amsterdam.
Dutch captain Georginio Wijnaldum gave the hosts the lead early in the second half before Wout Weghorst doubled his lead.
Ukraine equalized with two quick goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk, but a header from Denzel Dumfries five minutes from time gave Frank de Boer a win.
North Macedonia lost 3-1 to Austria in their first game in a major tournament as an independent nation in Bucharest, despite captain Goran Pandev’s equalizer, 37.
The coronavirus, which delayed the tournament for a year, is still proving to be a big puzzle.
Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not at Euro 2020, with Diogo Dalot taking his place in the squad.
Spain’s preparations have been hit hard by the virus, with Busquets sidelined for Monday’s clash with Sweden in Sevilla, while defender Diego Llorente was only allowed to join the squad on Saturday after giving up a fourth consecutive negative test.
“It has been a difficult week, without a doubt, but no complaints, no excuses,” said Spain manager Luis Enrique.
The other Group E opener will see Robert Lewandowski’s Poland take on Slovakia in St. Petersburg.
France, champion of the World Cup – with Karim Benzema recalled – is the favorite to win the continental crown.
They begin their campaign against Germany in Munich on Tuesday, with defending champions Portugal facing Hungary in the other Group F game.