For the first time in fifty-five years, England have reached the final of a major tournament. And when it comes to the Euros, hard as it is to believe, this is actually the first time the team has ever progressed beyond the semi-finals. We’re sure you don’t need any extra encouragement to be excited ahead of Sunday’s final. And we’re also sure that you’ve got something fun planned to make the most of this historic event. But if you need a few suggestions on how to make the most of the day, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll look back at some of the tournament’s biggest and most surprising moments. We’ll also give you some top tips for making this a night to remember – whatever the outcome.
Euro 2020 Finals
A year in the making
We were kept waiting a full year (and a day!) for Euro 2020. For much of that year, most sporting events were held without fans or cancelled entirely.
Understandably, the anticipation for the tournament was at an all-time high. Like all the best sporting events, the Euros are as much a social celebration as an athletic competition. This year, they have also become a symbol of a world ready to open up once again, to gather together in crowds after months of separation, to sing songs of triumph or drown our sorrows collectively.
And somehow, the tournament managed to live up to the expectations placed on it. It gave us all the highs and lows, the twists and turns, the surprises and the shocks that make for a truly memorable event. And where England is concerned, it has been a tournament marked by a growing conviction that, at long last, this might just be the year…
The curse is broken
England’s tournament didn’t get off to the most auspicious start. Unlike their opponents in the final, Italy, who won both their first two games 3-0, England followed up a narrow 1-0 victory over Croatia with an underwhelming goalless draw against Scotland.
However, once the group stage was over, England were suddenly transformed. They kicked off the knockout stage with a victory few could have anticipated.
England and Germany have a storied history in football tournaments. The rivalry has been full of ups and downs, from England’s famed victory 1966 World Cup final to their tragic loss in the semi-finals of Euro ’96 – a loss that resulted from current England manager Gareth Southgate’s disastrous missed penalty.
In recent years, England have been on the losing end of the rivalry, especially in tournaments. Their last clash in a tournament setting came in the 2010 World Cup, and it did not go well. Germany unceremoniously knocked England out of the tournament with a 4-1 victory. And if you want to see an England victory over Germany in the knockout stages of a major tournament, you have to go back all the way to 1966.
And then, after Germany’s 2-2 draw with Hungary, it was settled. Their opponent in the round of 16 would be… Germany.
Understandably, tensions were high. It seemed like this was the worst possible draw for England. We all feared they were once again about to fall victim to a decades-old curse…
And then something completely unexpected happened. In front of a emotional crowd at Wembley, a tense and goalless first half was followed by a breakthrough. Goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane made the impossible a reality. England had beaten Germany, Gareth Southgate had exorcised his demons, and England were in the quarter finals.
Starting to believe
The knockout stages have been a feast of exciting games with unexpected outcomes, sure to make this one of the more memorable tournaments in recent history. Aside from England-Germany, we also saw tournament favourites France lose on penalties to Switzerland and a raucous game between Spain and Croatia that ended 5-3 after extra time.
But England’s contribution to this extraordinary knockout stage didn’t end with their victory over Germany. The cautious optimism that we allowed ourselves to feel as the team entered the quarter finals became unabashed confidence after a spectacular 4-0 victory over Ukraine.
It was time to begin believing. However tense the semi-final against Denmark became – not least after England conceded their first goal of the entire tournament thirty minutes in – there was a growing sense that it would happen at last, that, after so long, the drought would finally end. We began to feel that, this time, it might actually be coming home…
One more hurdle
So, it all comes down to this. A Sunday evening in mid-July. As you’d expect, the weather forecast is middling – cloudy with a light breeze. What more could you want from the great British summertime? Whether in person or on TV, we’ll be welcoming the whole of Europe to Wembley Stadium – a much-needed moment of connection in these difficult times. And with just a little more luck and one final surge of tenacity, Harry Kane and his team will be lifting the trophy on Sunday night.
Of course, all the pundits have their views on how likely an England victory is. Perhaps some of you love all the stats and analysis – whose defence is more consistent, which team completes the most passes, who converts the most chances… Or maybe you’re just going on gut feeling and wild hopes. Either way, the anticipation level is through the roof. And if you want to be sure you’ll make the most of this history-making moment, then it’s time to start preparing.
It’s time for some Euro finals party planning!
Whether you’re watching the game with your family or planning to invite a few friends round – within the current government guidelines, of course – the first thing you’ll need is some delicious snacks!
From the pre-game build-up to the possibility of extra time and (gulp!) penalties, your Euro finals celebration could last for quite a few hours. You don’t want people flagging through a lack of sustenance!
Thankfully, there are plenty of fabulous recipes on the Swan website for you to choose from. There are enough tasty snack choices to keep even the fussiest guests happy.
Why not support the team with a snack-friendly variant on the classic English roast dinner?Our grilled Yorkshire pudding wraps are guaranteed to get everyone in the mood for cheering on the team.
If you want to cater to the health-conscious while still offering some indulgent treats, there are a wide range of delicious recipes that make use of the Swan Retro 6L Air Fryer, including recipes for classic pub-style chunky chips and gooey mozzarella sticks.
Or why not reach out to our opponents – and soon to be Euro runners-up! – with this lovely tomato and basil bruschetta recipe?
As important as food is, when it comes to getting finals-ready it has to take second place – just like Italy! Even more essential to guaranteeing the ultimate Euro finals party is a choice of refreshing (and perhaps inebriating) drinks.
For the perfect refreshing summer cocktail, why not try our classic frozen margarita recipe? Though we can’t guarantee the weather to go with it, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it either way! Or if you fancy something a little creamier and more indulgent, our frozen advocaat snowballs are the way to go.
Of course, it’s always worth having a few alcohol-free options. And it’s not just about those who prefer not to drink alcohol – it’s important for everyone to pace themselves. After all, nobody wants to be the person who can’t remember the second half! Our summer party punch is a fruity favourite fit for any occasion. Or if you want a twist on a classic, our pink lemonade includes mint and ginger for some added depth.
Time for a singalong
No party is complete without music, and luckily there are plenty of classic football songs that are perfect for a group singalong. Check out NME’s selection of the greatest football songs for some inspiration. Though we have to say the inclusion of Lana Del Ray’s version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” may be a bit controversial! Alternatively, Spotify users can listen to the official Euros playlist – or Swan’s own (infinitely superior) offering!
A historic moment
The food is prepped. The drinks are mixed. The stereo’s turned up high. Time to hang the flags from the windows, practice the Anfield rap, and wait for your friends to arrive.
It’s been a long year waiting for the tournament to begin – a year of many challenges, of uncertainty and anxiety. As the end of all lockdown measures approaches, it’s the perfect time to celebrate what we have all missed during the course of the pandemic – all those things that we perhaps didn’t relish enough before we had to live without them: togetherness, good company, shared excitement and joy.
And these are all things that football brings us like almost nothing else can.
So, on Sunday night, whatever happens, whoever wins, it’s a chance for us all to embrace those simple pleasures that we’ve had to relinquish for so long and that we can finally reclaim.
And maybe, just maybe, come Monday morning, we’ll be able to say, for the first time in over half a century: football has come home.