The whole world is watching—the opening ceremony and then the first match—the highest pressure possible. It’s the start of the four weeks worldwide event, the first of 51 games. It’s the hour you were waiting for your whole life. I cannot imagine what’s happening in the dressing room, what’s happening when you walk out of the tunnel and enter the pitch. What’s in your mind when you hear the crowd and realize this is it – the opening match of EuroCup, and you are in. The moment you will remember your whole life.

It’s your hopes and dreams. It’s all the fans, supporters, media, everyone’s hopes and dreams to be part of the great game, to experience something exceptional, to see goals, and saves, and tackles, and beautiful passes, and smart plays, and effort, and heart, and drama too.

It’s the first game. The whole world is watching.

Thomas will write and analyze yesterday’s match below, so let me diverse from Euro for a second and talk about the first game… in board games.

When I told my friends and playtesters that I signed a football manager game, they were more than intrigued. Many of them work with me on my designs for more than a decade. Martin was helping me in 2009 with Stronghold, and then in 2010 with Pret-a-Porter; Maciej, on the other hand, was my main playtester for Imperial Settlers. He also designed a solo variant for Imperial Settlers.

They have trust in the games Portal is doing. They are with me for years, being one of the most trusted playtesters I have. It’s a great team of geeks.

They are also football freaks. We play football every Monday forever. We share two passions – board games and football.

So as I said, when I told them that I signed a football manager game, they were more than intrigued.

This first game of Eleven was like opening the Euro. Excitement, hopes, dreams. Martin came to my house to play it. I set up the game, explained the rules, and we played.

That very evening, the first time I showed him Eleven, we played only one round. After the last phase of the round, Martin smiled and gave me that look. It said everything.

This look said, 'It’s really good.’
This look said, 'You lucky bastard.’
This look said, 'I’m in. I want to be in the dev team.’

We talked for an hour about the game and were super excited about upcoming months of work.

Eleven delivered. Eleven was everything Martin hoped for. Eleven is a football manager game we all waited for.



For me, Euro2020 started yesterday, right after work.

I like football. My main focus is on club football. Especially the smaller clubs. They were part of the inspiration for designing Eleven. The fight against relegation has intrigued me just as much as trying to become champions. I enjoy the stories behind a season of small clubs. Not being relegated at the end of the season can feel just as good as becoming a champion. I wanted players—when playing Eleven—to experience these dramatic emotions in one of the scenarios of Eleven. Just try not to relegate. Easy, right?

After a disappointing season with my club, I had to change focus. So, I went into a supermarket and bought the ‘Guide to Euro2020’. I read about all the national teams, star players, and stadiums. I really got excited. This is going to be great. I picked my favorite countries, mostly underdogs, and I was ready for the tournament. Ready to watch the first match between Italy and Turkey the next day.

Of course, Italy was the favorite to win this match. If it was about the national anthems, they are definitely finalists to me. What a great song! But it’s not. And Turkey has a dangerous team. They took 4 points from France during qualifying. They beat the Netherlands with a deserved victory. They are fast and deadly. Unfortunately for Turkey, as the first half progressed, the Italians got more and more dominant in the game, resulting in lots of chances. The Turks weren’t able to counterattack, which is normally their strength, due to the fast intervention of the Italians.

But Nevertheless, 0 – 0 at halftime. After the break, Italy got their well-deserved goal; unfortunately, it was own goal. I felt a bit sorry for Turkey because they defended quite well and were unlucky here. After the goal, it went loose. The Turkish wall collapsed. Full time: 3-0.

Italy has shown its strength, and I definitely think they will become the group winner. Although Turkey failed both in defense and attack against a different opponent, they may be able to play the game they like and still end up as number 2 in the group.

I enjoyed this game! I have seen worse at the start of a tournament. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s games!

Thomas Jansen is the designer of Eleven: the football manager game. Ignacy Trzewiczek is the developer of the game. They both will share their thoughts about EuroCup 2021 and also talk about the design or development of Eleven. Be with them every day during Euro! If you like football and board games, please, share the news about Eleven!

You can learn more about Eleven here: https://bit.ly/3xidfAg