The opening round of Euro 2020 fixtures have now been completed but the circumstances at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Saturday really put everything into perspective. It goes without saying that everyone wishes Christian Eriksen a speedy recovery and the news the Danish playmaker is recovering after receiving CPR on the pitch is good news and may that continue.
So now that every team has played we thought it time to look over every game and see how each team got on. There has been a mix of results for the home nations and some extraordinary goals so far, so who has done what and how is each team shaping up.
Group A – Italy/Turkey/Wales/Switzerland
Italy 3-0 Turkey
The Italians dominated the Turks from start to finish in a game that many thought would be a tough test for the Azzurri. Roberto Mancini’s attack minded squad broke the deadlock on 53 minutes via a Merih Demiral own goal. The Juventus defender may ply his trade in Italy but he will not have wanted to open the scoring for the country he resides in.
Ciro Immobile made it two in the Stadio Olimpico which is also the home of his club side Lazio, before Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne finished off a brilliant move for the Italians, bending his shot past Ugurcan Cakir to secure a 3-0 victory. A strong start for the Italians but an underwhelming performance from Turkey who many had tipped as a dark horse for the competition.
Wales 1-1 Switzerland
In the other game in Group A Wales took on Switzerland in Baku. It wasn’t the best performance from the Welsh, who struggled to keep hold of possession and were dominated in large parts by the Swiss.
Wales forward Kieffer Moore will have been rueing a missed chance in the first half when Yann Sommer expertly tipped his header over the bar. The Cardiff forward was then in the wars clashing heads with Kevin Mbabu leaving the number 13 needing medical attention and played on with a bandage.
Breel Embolo opened the deadlock for the Swiss just after the break with the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen seeing little of the ball in the Azerbaijan capital as the Swiss turned the screw in Baku.
The Welsh battled on in search of an equaliser which finally came with 16 minutes to go. A nicely worked short corner saw Joe Morrell whip in a cross that Moore took full advantage of to head the ball past Sommer.
An iconic moment in Welsh European Championship history as Moore claimed his first ever tournament goal – bandage and all.
The game ended 1-1 and both sides will be pleased with a point and after having seen the Turks bomb in Rome both sides will be hoping to progress in the second round.
Group B – Denmark/Finland/Belgium/Russia
Denmark 0-1 Finland
Denmark have been billed as a side that could go far into this tournament but the incident involving Eriksen just before half-time in Copenhagen shook the footballing world.
After a 2 hour delay, whilst Eriksen was treated on the pitch, both teams’ players decided they wanted to continue – a decision Danish ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichal later revealed may not have been the best decision in hindsight.
The game continued and the Finns claimed all three points through Joel Pohjanpalo and ended 1-0, but in truth the result was never important in this one – this could be seen as the Danish and Finnish fans sang Eriksen’s name as they waited for news on the playmaker’s health.
Again we wish Eriksen and his family all the best.
Belgium 3-0 Russia
Belgium faced Russia in the other match in this group where fans booed the taking of the knee in St Petersburg. Many Belgium players are close friends to Eriksen and the fact they came out and performed is a credit to them.
Romelu Lukaku silenced the racist booing of the taking of the knee by scoring twice and honoring his Inter Milan teammate, Erkisen, in a heartwarming moment from the Belgian striker.
Belgium dominated the game with Thomas Meunier rounding off a 3-0 victory and topping a brilliant performance from the full back who grabbed an assist for Lukaku’s second as well.
Many have tipped the Belgians to win this tournament and signs the ‘Golden Generation’ may finally go all the way.
Russia on the other hand looked out of their league in this one and with games against Denmark and Finland to come it looks like an uphill struggle for the Russians to get out of this group.
Group C – Austria/North Macedonia/Netherlands/Ukraine
Austria 3-1 North Macedonia
A first appearance at a major tournament for North Macedonia ended in a 3-1 defeat to Austria.
Austria took the lead through Stefan Lainer who latched onto a superb ball from Marcel Sabitzer before the ageless Goran Pandev levelled things up with his first goal at a European Championships – a moment of huge celebration for the North Macedonian who is still playing at the age of 37.
Austria out classed the Macedonians in the second half with goals from Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic, sealing the nations first ever win at the Euro’s and putting the alpine nation in a strong position to qualify for the second round.
Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine
Group C also welcomed the return of the Dutch to tournament football having missed out on Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018.
Frank de Boer’s Oranje took a commanding 2-0 lead just after half time with goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst before Andriy Yarmolenko’s stunning strike from 30 yards changed the flow of the game. Roman Yaremchuk then equalised four minutes later to set up a thrilling end to the game.
Denzel Dumfries was able to find the back of the net with five minutes to go in Amsterdam to save the blushes of the home side who will be relieved they didn’t end up throwing away the win.
A warning sign for the Dutch as it seemed all too easy for Ukraine to get back into this game and Ukraine will take comfort from knowing they were able to come back from 2-0 down despite losing the match.
Group D – England/Croatia/Scotland/Czech Republic
England 1-0 Croatia
England opened their account with a first ever opening day win at a European Championships.
The Three Lions were always in control at Wembley against Croatia, with Kalvin Phillips in particular impressing in the centre of the park.
The Leeds player was in scintillating form and provided the assist for Raheem Sterling who will have silenced his critics after an indifferent season at Manchester City. The duo linked up in the second half to put England in front and assured defensive performances from Tyrone Mings and Kieran Trippier kept Jordan Pickford’s goal away from any danger.
Croatia looked a shadow of the side that beat England in Russia three years ago. Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic looked uninspiring and off the pace as England’s midfield dominated.
A positive start for England who are now in prime position to win the group and Croatia will need to beat the Czech’s next time out if they hope to qualify.
Scotland 0-2 Czech Republic
Hampden Park was filled with nearly 12,000 Scottish fans who watched their side at a major tournament for the first time since France ‘98.
The Tartan Army will have been left disappointed though as Patrick Schick grabbed a brace for the Czech Republic. A well placed header beat David Marshall just before half-time and then the Bayer Leverkusen striker scored from 49 yards catching Marshall out who had pushed up to the centre circle as Scotland pressed forward.
Scotland did create some decent chances of their own and there were some positives to take from the game. Andy Robertson looked in good form down the left flank and Lyndon Dykes looked busy up front and had a few half chances but the game finished 2-0 to the Czech’s.
With England coming up next the Scots will have seen this as a missed opportunity to get points against a side many thought they could beat while the Czech’s will be hoping to continue their form and get out of the group.
Group E – Poland/Slovakia/Spain/Sweden
Poland 1-2 Slovakia
Robert Lewandowski was unable to get on the score sheet as Poland suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Slovakia.
Slovakia took the lead through a Wojciech Szczesny own goal but were able to equalise just after the break with Karol Linetty firing in from close range.
Things got worse for the Poles though as Grzegorz Krychowiak was sent off just after the hour mark and then up popped Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar to head home the winner for Slovakia giving the underdogs a surprise victory.
Slovakia have not been given much hope of getting out of a group that most see Spain winning with either Sweden or Poland claiming second spot.
Victory in their opening game now means qualification for the next round is well and truly within their grasp with the best placed third placed teams also progressing.
Spain 0-0 Sweden
Of all the nations taking part in this summer’s tournament Spain have had the toughest of preparations with captain Sergio Busquets contracting COVID during their warm-up camp.
Despite that Spain played well in Seville creating plenty of opportunities but failed to find that elusive goal.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying though. Alvaro Morata missed several opportunities dragging his shots wide and Dani Olmo had two shots from distance – the first of which was tipped onto the post by Robin Olson and narrowly trickled away from the goal.
Towards the end Gerard Moreno saw his header saved by Olson from 6 yards out before Pablo Sarabia failed to anticipate a cross which saw the ball ricochet off the substitute into Olson’s arms.
Sweden defended resolutely and Alexander Isak looked impressive upfront hitting the post in the first half, before showing some wonderful individual skill later in the match to almost put the Swedes 1-0 up.
The only 0-0 of the tournament so far will be seen as a great result in Sweden but Spain’s aggressive press will likely see this one as a bad result for the former European and World Champions.
Group F – Hungary/Portugal/France/Germany
Hungary 0-3 Portugal
Hungary has arguably the toughest set of fixtures than any other team in this year’s competition. An opening game against current champions Portugal was played in front of a packed Puskas Arena – the only ground to allow a maximum capacity at the Euros.
Cristiano Ronaldo spurned a glorious opportunity just before half time, sending his shot into the heavens from just 6 yards out. It seemed almost impossible for one of the greatest players of all time to miss but it just proves he is human after all.
A resilient Hungary stood firm and almost shocked the current holders but Szabolcs Schon’s goal 10 minutes from time was disallowed after the forward had strayed offside.
Spurned on from that scare, Portugal found the opener as Raphael Guerreio’s strike was wickedly deflected past Peter Gulacsi between the Hungarian posts. A cruel blow for the home side who then conceded a penalty, which Ronaldo stepped up to blast into the net – becoming the competition’s outright leading goalscorer with 10 goals in his fifth tournament – surpassing the great Michel Platini.
Ronaldo then rounded off a lovely move deep into injury time to seal the win and give the Portugese a solid start to a group that also consists of the last two World Champions.
France 1-0 Germany
The most highly anticipated game of the group stages brought the opening round of fixtures to a close on Tuesday night in a game that saw two giants of the international game face off.
With a ridiculous amount of talent on display the opening 45 minutes didn’t disappoint and it was the current World Champions France, who took the lead through a mistake by veteran defender Mats Hummels.
The German centre half turned the ball into his own net after Paul Pogba’s pass found Lucas Hernandez down the French left flank and the Bayern Munich defender drilled the ball across the 6 yard box where Hummels fluffed his lines and directed the ball past Manuel Neuer.
Serge Gnabry missed an opportunity to level things up just after the break but put his effort over the bar from 6 yards. The Germans continued to keep the pressure on throughout the second half without creating too many clear cut chances.
Kyliam Mbappe had a goal disallowed for offside and with five minutes to go the PSG striker raced cleared to set up Karim Benzema who tapped home a simple finish but Mbappe was again caught offside in the build up giving the Germans hope of an equaliser in the closing stages.
Joachim Low’s side could not break down the disciplined French defence and Didier Deschamps’ men took all three points leaving Germany plenty to do if they want to get out of the so called ‘Group of Death’.