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Chelsea star Tammy Abraham’s reaction to Leicester FA Cup final defeat caught on camera

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UEFA European Championships, news, when is it, who will win, how to watch, favourites, Covid-19, squads, Australia, start time, fixtures,

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The delayed Euro 2020 will finally get underway on Friday (Saturday morning AEST), a year behind schedule, with Covid still set to cast a shadow over the tournament.

The continent-wide event, first envisaged by then-UEFA president Michel Platini when he announced the tournament would be held across Europe, will be played in front of limited crowds and with strict health restrictions in place.

There are six of the world’s top seven teams in action, the winners of the last four World Cups, and a whopping 51 games in a month.

For the second edition, there will be 24 teams, but for the first time ever VAR will be in place.

Here’s everything you need to know!

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Socceroos thump Chinese Taipei 5-1 | 02:21

The action kicks off at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where Italy take on Turkey in front of 16,000 fans (5am Saturday AEST).

Is COVID a problem?

Spain’s preparations for the month-long tournament have been hit after two players, Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente, tested positive for the virus, although Llorente on Thursday returned a negative test.

The team even had to name a “parallel” squad of 17 reserve players, fearing a possible wider outbreak in the official 26-man squad.

Although captain Busquets still has Covid, Llorente’s test result will allay fears that the first-choice side might have to miss Spain’s opening game against Sweden in Seville on Monday.

Two Swedish players — forward Dejan Kulusevski and midfielder Mattias Svanberg — have also tested positive for the virus, with six reserve players called up on standby.

But despite the ongoing threat, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been bullish, insisting Euro 2020 will be safe.

“It will be the perfect opportunity to show the world that Europe is adapting,” he said. “Europe is alive and celebrating life. Europe is back.”

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Young Socceroo’s horror miss | 00:28

The clearest illustration of that is set to come from Budapest, where it is hoped the new Puskas Arena will be packed to capacity.

But the majority of the 11 venues, all in different countries, will only be partially-filled for matches, although Denmark on Thursday announced it would lift mask rules and allow 25,000 fans, instead of 16,000, to attend games in Copenhagen.

Munich aims to host a minimum of 14,500 fans — around 22 per cent of the Allianz Arena’s capacity, the lowest of the stadiums being used.

Dublin and Bilbao were dropped from the list of hosts after being unable to give guarantees they could meet UEFA’s requirement of accommodating limited numbers of spectators, but Seville stepped in for Bilbao while Dublin’s games went to London and Saint-Petersburg.

London’s Wembley Stadium will host both semi-finals on July 7 and 8, and then the final on July 12 (all AEST).

England believe they can end 55 years of pain. A weak link could extend the misery

Awakening of a sleeping giant and the ultimate Group of Death: The contenders for The Euros

France are favourites, led by superstar striker Kylian Mbappe.Source: Getty Images

– France the favourites –

On the pitch, France will be firm favourites despite being one of the few traditional giants not to have any games at home. The world champions’ first match is in Munich against Germany on Tuesday (local)

“All the other countries envy us,” said a recent front page of French sports daily L’Equipe underneath pictures of Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.

All eyes will be on 33-year-old forward Benzema, who was recalled after an international exile of five and a half years following a prolific season for Real Madrid.

Holders Portugal, with a star-studded squad led by Cristiano Ronaldo, and Hungary complete a tough-looking Group F.

The other likely contenders among the 24 nations include Belgium, sweating over the fitness of key player Kevin De Bruyne after he suffered facial injuries in the recent Champions League final, and usual suspects Spain and Italy.

In England, there are hopes Gareth Southgate’s young side could take advantage of playing most of their games at Wembley.

England have never before reached a European Championship final, but captain Harry Kane believes the team will start their bid in a “better place” than they were before reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

Belgium’s midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is in doubt.Source: AFP

– Ukraine, Russia in shirt row –

UEFA has also demanded that Ukraine make changes to its jersey after Russia complained.

European football’s governing body said the message “Glory to the Heroes”, a rallying cry during the 2014 anti-Russia protests in Ukraine that is featured inside the shirt, was “clearly political in nature” and must be removed.

However, the Ukrainian football association said it was in talks with UEFA to reverse its decision.

The association said to AFP that “earlier UEFA had approved the new kit and every element of it, including the slogan”.

‘Political provocation’: Russia’s fury over ‘illegal’, hidden map on rival’s Euro 2020 jersey

The build-up to the tournament has also seen controversy over the anti-racism gesture of taking a knee, which many teams have said they will continue to do before games.

England players were booed by some of their own supporters for kneeling in their warm-up matches, while Croatia said on Thursday their players would not be asked to make the gesture and Scotland said their team would stand.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he agreed with supporters booing players for the anti-racism protest.

When does it run?

The tournament begins Saturday morning and concludes on the morning of the 12th of July (AEST).

After the opener, group stage matches take place at 11pm, 2am and 5am AEST almost every night for 12 days.

Foxsports.com.au will have live stats from every game.

England believe they can end 55 years of pain. A weak link could extend the misery

Awakening of a sleeping giant and the ultimate Group of Death: The contenders for The Euros

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Australia Socceroos vs Nepal, football 2021, news, scores, how to watch, free live stream, when is it, blog, result, FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying

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The Socceroos haven’t won seven consecutive matches since 1997. On Saturday morning AEST, they have a superb opportunity to equal that streak when they face the 171st-ranked side in the world in Nepal.

Graham Arnold’s men are six from six atop Group B in the second round of Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and victory against lowly Nepal would assure top spot with a game to spare.

In what will be their third game in eight days, and with another to come on Wednesday morning, Arnold is almost certain to continue a heavy rotation policy that has seen six debutants earn maiden caps so far, and an entirely different starting XI in the second game.

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Socceroos thump Chinese Taipei 5-1 | 02:21

Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, now with Danish club SønderjyskE, is the only uncapped player remaining in the 30-man squad and could be in line to debut given Arnold has already used two different glovemen in the opening two clashes this series.

Nepal are fourth in the group with two wins from seven matches so far, and are playing for pride against the Australian side. The last – and only – time the teams met in October 2019, Australia ran out 5-0 winners in Canberra, with Jamie Maclaren scoring a hat-trick. Australia launched 36 shots to Nepal’s lone effort in what was a one-sided clash.

Maclaren and fellow A-League striker Mitch Duke have both enjoyed minutes – and scored goals – in the two games this camp. Now Apostolos Giannou and Adam Taggart are likely to get their opportunities.

The match is taking place at Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium in Kuwait, the same venue which has hosted every match of the group so far this fortnight – which has left it looking worse for wear.

MATCH CENTRE: Line-ups, live stats

HOW TO WATCH

Watch live on Fox Sports 505 from 1.30am AEST ahead of kick-off at 2am, and stream FREE on Kayo.

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Central Coast Mariners vs Macarthur FC, elimination final, how the Mariners found their soul again

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The soul of a football club can be traced back to people.

The people attached to a club give it soul. The way those people hunt success gives it soul. And the spontaneous reactions of elation or grief of said people give it soul. And winning sure as hell helps.

The Central Coast Mariners have the right people. And with it, they have won their people back.

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Watch Central Coast Mariners v Macaurthur FC in their A-League elimination final of Fox Sports and Kayo on Saturday night

Socceroos thump Chinese Taipei 5-1 | 02:21

From day dot, the Mariners have been a club that really, when you look at it through the prism of capitalism, had no right to compete on a consistent basis with bigger clubs with deeper pockets, more expensive seats and players with impressive right columns on Wikipedia.

From day dot, the Mariners punched above. They were born in 2004 to give the Central Coast an identity. Central Coast? Of what?

The joint an hour north of Sydney filled with people who were either sick of the big smoke, or sick of the idea of trying to live there. Just before the Mariners, rugby league’s Northern Eagles tried to give the Coast an identity but royally screw up by playing half their home games in Sydney. Wrong.

Straight away the Mariners connected to the region, and with it, the soul of a club grew.

In many respects, Matt Simon’s story epitomises that of how the Mariners got, then lost, and have now regained its soul.

Why Mariners faithful, who have had their belief tested like no priest or nun could care to imagine, are floating on clouds again.

Simon got noticed when inaugural Coach Lawrie McKinna went to a local grand final and noticed this mad blond kid causing havoc for East Gosford. The mad blond kid wouldn’t need to be an apprentice plasterer for much longer.

And right away, Simon cared for the club. He left everything out there, or at least, on opposition centre backs. He was no blow-in from Sydney. Until he went to Sydney.

Someone in mid-2015 had a really bad day at the Mariners. That’s when they told Matt Simon he could leave.

Derbyshire on ‘massive achievement’ | 00:41

While gone for three years, the Mariners won 13 games. Out of 81. The owner, Mike Charlesworth, who took over in 2013, copped the brunt of the flak. Charlesworth was accused of stripping back what was already bare. When yarns spread like Charlesworth telling the coaching staff they should get players to lift up their own players from corners like they do in rugby union lineouts to ‘innovate’, you could see what his name was murmured in strange tones. And then he went and tried to sign Usain Bolt.

Matt Simon was back from Sydney by then, the Mariners realised an error, but not just his return could stop the bleeding.

Then Alen Stajcic staggered through the door, still hurting from his Matildas sacking. The man can coach. Even his old Matildas, not wanting to delve into reasons why the past is the past, freely admit his brilliance as a coach.

Stajcic accepted the Mariners underdog status, the Charlesworth ways, and worked away.

Gave kids like Josh Nisbet, told he was too short by most, working at a local Woolworths on a scholarship contract, a chance. Gave prospects like Alou Kuol, the Sudanese refugee rejected by other A-League clubs, a place to be himself. Gave people like Oli Bozanic a reason to quit Europe and come home to help teach the team to win.

The winning returned. And with the winning, the smiles got wider. The same people who smiled at you when you arrived at games for Gosford were proud again. Like Pat Tatum, always there in the tunnel at home games, guarding the home dressing room door or helping out anyway he can. Always says g’day. Always asks how you are. Never seen Pat without a smile this season.

Fornaroli finishes season with a bang | 00:59

Or Jake Banks, the number one supporter for the Mariners, who is consigned to a wheelchair because his body has betrayed him. The mind is still razor sharp. His thoughts rarely stray far from thinking about his Mariners. And at home games, from his regular spot, you can hear him bellow that little bit louder this season.

The joint has its soul back, and tomorrow it will be jumping, praying this new lot from Macarthur won’t be cruel.

Macarthur are searching for their soul because the way A-League clubs are set up you can’t be born with one. Sounds crass, but they are firstly franchises. You buy in. You set the club up. How you set the club up is the path to finding a soul.

Macarthur’s way is to win first, then the rest will follow.

They have aimed for excellence in their first season, with a meticulous, almost scientific approach to preparing footballers to win. Coaches sit with iPad’s on the bench, physical staff sit with iPad’s behind the bench, the minute a player ‘redlines’, a sub is summonsed.

Coach Ante Milicic lives for football. His entire garden of thoughts growing wild with ways to win games. He clutches his black book like worry-beads, and a little like a mad scientist convinced someone will copy his patent, covers his mouth with it to whisper messages to assistants. Milicic wants possession-based football to pick apart the opposition. There is gut-feel and nuance to the process, but it does lend itself to an overarching algorithm.

Off the park, Macarthur’s long game is to attach itself to the Campbelltown area. The region, like the Central Coast, detached from the big smoke enough to claim its own identity is growing quickly. Steps like a training base and academy in the area are the right ones. Convincing Uli Davila to leave Wellington for a project worth being a part of is another. There’s talk the NRL’s Wests Tigers are about to bail on playing games there. That’s an opportunity for Macarthur. None can be wasted. It is a long road. Who is to say they won’t have a soul sometime soon.

It is certain, though, they are stuffed without one. They have to find one, and keep it.

The Mariners know that all too well, and it all starts when you mix people and winning.

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