1st June 2016

Is it finally England’s year?

With fewer than two weeks to go until Euro 2016 kicks off – beginning with a clash between France and Romania on 10th June – this is a question that’ll weigh on many supporters’ minds. On paper, The Lions are blessed with a relatively straightforward group (Slovakia, Russia and neighbours Wales) – but then we could have said the same for World Cup 2010, when we were joined by Slovenia, Algeria and USA. What happened then? We scraped through the group, only to be cleanly knocked out in the second round, 4-1 to Germany

But that’s not the point of the tournament, really. England fans have suffered enough to know that it’s about the communal sporting spirit captured over those four tantalising weeks: witnessing dark horses wow even the most sceptical of doubters; becoming outraged at controversial refereeing decisions; and barely being able to watch those fateful penalty shootouts. This year, it’ll be about cheering on underdogs like Iceland (odds to win: 80/1) and Albania (300/1), as they face footballing giants, Portugal and France, respectively.

If you can’t be in France to cheer on Strákarnir okkar (“Our Boys”) or Kuq e Zinjtë (“The Red and Blacks”) in person, London is probably the next-best place to be to catch all the action, even if it is behind a screen. Austrians may flock to Alpine-themed Bodo’s Schloss for a taste of home, while the spirit of Germany – world champions and surely a firm favourite – will be captured at the lively bierkeller, Bavarian Beerhouse.

Underground Waterloo venue, The Vaults, is holding screenings on select dates, and is lightheartedly dubbing its football funfest “The Other Brexit”. To add a soundtrack to your Euro experience, you might head to Shoreditch’s Rich Mix, whose big-screen events will be followed by free live gigs, with genres varying from house to big brass bands.

Fans in Farringdon could to head to Clerkenwell & Social for their selection of game screenings, or to Barsmith for viewing with a side of artisanal pizzas and cocktails. Even London’s American-style bars are embracing European soccer this year, with Steam and Rye offering private-hire rooms for cosy and informal group screenings – along with beer buckets and food platters. And in West London, Frankie’s Sports Bar and Diner at Chelsea FC boasts an all-American menu to complement its 12 indoor and two outdoor screens. Another Chelsea venue, Under the Bridge, boasts multiple screens, including a 9-metre LED centrepiece, along with a stellar sound system and an array of food-and-drink packages.

Hopefully all this has inspired you to plan out your summer of sport in excessive detail. But are we yet any closer to answering that age-old question about whether England will lift the trophy on 10 July? No.

#Icelandforthewin.

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