Written by Kurt West
As the second round of fixtures at Euro 2016 finish with Portugal drawing 0-0 with Austria, I review three things we learnt in the twelve games played between Wednesday and Saturday.
credit Nazionale Calcio
1. Home nations in a strong position.
Match day two brought arguably the most anticipated game of the tournament so far with England facing Wales in a game dubbed as ‘The battle of Britain’. It was a game England needed to win and they achieved that with a late, late goal from substitute Daniel Sturridge. This left England and Wales with four and three points respectfully, meaning avoiding defeat in their last group games would all but seal qualification for the round of sixteen.
Northern Ireland’s first win of the competition against Ukraine kicked off wild scenes in Lyon and put them in a decent position to qualify. However with Germany in their last game, nothing can be certain. If they keep the score down against the world champions or even nick a draw, it could be enough to qualify even through a third place finish.
Republic of Ireland’s heavy defeat against Belgium has probably ended their tournament, with a win against a stern and organised Italy, their only real hope of qualifying in third position. It was always going to be tough for the Irish who were probably drawn in the toughest group.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo is human.
It has been a disappointing Euros’ so far for the Portugese drawing with minnows Iceland before failing to grab a deserved goal against the Austrians, seeing the game end goalless. The poor finishing of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is not the sole reason for Portugal’s struggles but it is definitely a huge reason for why Portugal have only scored one goal off over forty five attempts. In my eyes Ronaldo is the greatest goal scorer the game has ever seen, fifty goals consistently in the last six years is a phenomenal stat. However it just hasn’t gone for him in Portugals games so far, he’s continually wasted chances that you’d put your house on him to score, no more than when he hit his 78th minute penalty against the Austrians post which kept the score at 0-0. However you’d be a fool to rule out Ronaldo and with a big game against Hungary coming up, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he proved to be the match winner in that game.
credit Nazionale Calcio
3. Still no standout teams.
France, Spain and Italy were the only teams who go into match day 3 of the group stages with a 100% record. If I was to choose a team who impressed me the most so far it would have to be Italy’s organised and clinical performances against Sweden and especially Belgium. The hosts, France, have look far from convincing and may struggle against a team who truly tests them and their fragile back line. You then look at Spain, who have looked very tidy and have thoroughly deserved their 6 points. However I do worry that against a slick counter attacking team they could very much struggle due to how reliant they’re on their full backs for width. The goal scoring form of Alvaro Morata will boost Spain’s chances as it may have been previously thought that they lacked a truly deadly striker like in recent past such as David Villa or Fernando Torres.
What else stood out for you in Match Day 2? Let us know in the comments below!