The 2021 European championship is slated to start on Sunday in Italy’s Piedmont region. At three sites in and around Turin, Europe’s top 16 men’s national teams will compete for the European title, with the Netherlands looking to claim its fourth consecutive European crown.
The event is the first to include 16 nations, with the organizers having scrapped the traditional format of two pools of six teams in favor of four groups with four teams apiece. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the knockout round, with the final scheduled for Sunday, Sept 19, at 20:30 (CEST).
Group A pits Italy, Austria, Belgium, and Greece against one another, with Italy looking to improve on its silver medal at the 2019 tournament. The Italians, led by MLB Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, last won the European title in 2012, the last country to do so before the Dutch began their run of three consecutive triumphs. Greece, which qualified for the event in early July thanks to a 8-4 defeat of Lithuana at the qualifying tournament in Utena, Lithuania, is the group outsider.
Germany, Spain, Croatia, and Ukraine will compete in Group B, with Spain, which has won a medal at the four previous tournaments, the group favorite. The Spanish won the gold medal at the 40th Prague Baseball Week in late June, defeating the host Czech Republic 9-0.
Group C is the most wide open of the groups, with France, Great Britain, Israel, and Russia all enjoying a fair chance of advancing to the knockout round. Israel competed in this summer’s Olympic baseball tournament in Japan, but the country’s squad for the European championship does not include some of the top talent that was included on the Olympic roster.
Group D has the Dutch facing the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Sweden, with the Dutch and Czechs the clear favorites to qualify for the knockout round.
For complete standings and statistics and links to live streams, visit the WBSC Europe competition page.
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2019 — Netherlands (gold), Italy (silver), Spain (bronze)
2016 — Netherlands (gold), Spain (silver), Italy (bronze)
2014 — Netherlands (gold), Italy (silver), Spain (bronze)
2012 — Italy (gold), Netherlands (silver), Spain (bronze)
2010 — Italy (gold), Netherlands (silver), Germany (bronze)