Week 1 of Euro 2020 – Ups and Downs

Week 1 of Euro 2020 – Ups and Downs

Italy back to back 3-0 victories – 

With Italy starting their Euro’s with a very frustrating first half against Turkey, they certainly made up for it in the second half, with the duct broken through an own goal from Demiral, with that error allowing the Italians to take control.

 Italy were quick to take full advantage, and with goals from Immobile and Insigne, Roberto Mancini’s side recorded their first-ever victory by three goals in the Euro’s, despite being named the potential ‘Dark Horse’. 

Throughout the second half, Italy well and truly set an outstanding impression, with the squad taking 24 shots and dominating the possession with 64% of the ball, limiting Turkey’s chance of creating anything significant. 

In their second fixture, Italy once again displayed their dominance which they were able to carry over their form to the Switzerland game with the advantage of playing in Rome, preventing the Swiss from taking any chances against their formidable defence. The Swiss already knew the difficulty of scoring against Italy, as they have been impressive defensively with the squad not conceding a goal for over 1000 minutes and going unbeaten since September 2018. 

The Italians displayed their magnificent style of football, cutting the Suiss defence apart with their opener scored by Locatelli, making a late run into the box to get in front of the goal. Locatelli doubled the lead for Italy, with the Sassuolo midfielder right-hand side of the shot giving Sommer no chance to attempt a save. 

With Switzerland offering nothing, managing one shot on target, it seemed that the Italians were already going into the Round of 16, and with Immobile finishing off the game with a shot too powerful for the Sommer with the ball going through his hand into the bottom left corner.  And with Italy’s fixture coming up against Wales, they’ll be looking to finish the group on 9 points with Wales also looking for a win to guarantee a place in the Round of 16, it will become a very challenging game for one of the new favourites.

The goal of the tournament – Scotland 0 – 2 Czech Republic 

It was a game with so much anticipation for the Scottish, with a return to a national tournament for the first time in 23 years, for them football had returned to 12,000 fans inside Hampden Park. With the home advantage in mind, they were looking to use their 12th man, Scotland were able to threaten early having better chances, with Robertson’s shot being palmed over the bar by the keeper, but from then on the side seemed to face the pressure of the fans hopes and desire.

But on the verge of halftime, the optimism of the home supporters seemed to die off with West Ham’s Coufal crossing the ball into the Czech striker Schick, who was able to open the scoring with a headed goal. 

In the second half, Scotland once again threatened the Czech goal with Hendy’s shot clipping the bar, which would have lifted the spirit of the fans, who have only seen their side score in two of their 7 Euro matches. 

Although Steve Clarke’s side once again had another opportunity with the Czech defence causing themselves issues with looping back pass-catching the keeper off guard, with the keeper just getting back in time to claw it off the line. Despite Scotland’s best attempts to level the game, it seemed to be over with the goal of the tournament by Schick grabbing his second of the day, with his shot being fired from more than 45 yards to lob the helpless David Marshall, who crashed into the net.

Scotland now goes into their next game against England, desperately needing to get a win as they could potentially see themselves exit the tournament with a trip to Wembley against their bitter rivals. 

Ronaldo becomes the GOAT – 

Portugal started their Euros with an impressive 3-0 win to send themselves top of the ‘group of death’ after a frustrating 85 minutes that allowed Portugal to break the stalemate. 

Portugal were given enough chances to see off Hungary, with Jota going alone instead of passing to a free Ronaldo in the box and then Ronaldo missing an open goal, blazing it over the bar from 6 yards. And with Pepe’s header clawed away by the Hungary keeper to hold onto the 0-0, it seemed like it would be going the same way as the Spain game. 

The first goal of the game came in the 80th minute, with the Hungarian’s taking the lead through Schon’s low-driven shot into the right-hand side of the net. With a roar from Hungarian fans being let down by the VAR decision, quickly ending their loud celebrations which most football fans had missed.

With the threat caused to the current holders, they were lucky with Guerreiro getting fortunate with a heavy deflection taking the ball away from the Hungarian keeper giving Portugal the lead. 

And very soon after Ronaldo was able to extend Portugal’s lead with Jota being fouled in the box for the penalty, allowing Ronaldo to get his 10th Euro goal, as he smashed home the spot-kick in a silent Puskas Arena. Then quickly grabbing his second 2 minutes later with a lovely passing between Ronaldo and Jota, to allow Ronaldo to take it round the keeper to make it 3-0.  Ronaldo’s second cemented him as the all-time top goalscorer of the Euros, scoring 11 goals across five different tournaments you would expect him to increase that lead as he aims to take his side to the final as defending champions, as they now sit on top of the Group F.

However, the worst news of the week was the collapse of Christian Eriksen during Denmark’s opening game against Finland with the Danish midfielder being doubtful to return to the sport ever again. 

But despite the tragedy the best news of the week followed with the recovery and survival of the Inter Milan midfielder, who was able to make a quick recovery and has become stable in hospital, being monitored. Eriksen was able to come to social media stating ‘I’m fine – under the circumstances’.

And with the Danish and Belgium players stopping in the 10th minute in their fixture in Copenhagen, it clearly shows the unity between the players over this tragic event. 

Downs –

Arnautovic anti-Albian – 

One of the more disappointing events of the Euro’s came from Marko Arnautovic, with the Austrian striker coming on in the second half, he was able to make an impact in the game getting the third and winner for Austria in their 3-1 victory.

The former West Ham striker decided to ruin his own Euro’s moment by using his celebration to turn towards North Macedonia striker Alioski and hurling abuse towards the Leeds defender over his Albania heritage. During this terrible choice of celebration, he was being restrained by captain David Alaba, trying to prevent the striker from causing any more damage to the player’s tournament and career. 

Unfortunately and despite Alaba’s attempts, the damage had already been done with UEFA punishing Arnautovic under Article 15, prohibiting him from playing in their next fixture. Although North Macedonia have already demanded that the Austrian striker should be punished for ten games with the player alleged of racist abuse towards Alioski and they went on to describe it as a nationalistic outburst. 

But since then Alioski has come out and claimed that he didn’t hear what Arnautovic had to say during the game, (though that doesn’t justify his actions)Alioski did insist that the forward did come to apologise after the game, but the abuse still leaves a sour taste on the tournament and with alleged racism being in question it doesn’t set a good impression on UEFA who have been campaigning to remove racism from their game. 

Boring Boring Spain – 

With Spain’s opening game against Sweden, many expected the fixture to only go one way with the Spanish walking away with the victory and as the favourites to win the group. 

But unless they were to win the group on the highest number of passes it doesn’t seem like they will be very successful throughout the tournament. 

Spain seemed to control the ball throughout the match, with Luis Enrique’s side completing 419 passes in the first half, breaking the record for the most passes completed in a half in the Euro’s. But despite having 85% of the ball and playing the majority of the game as attack vs defence there was no real goal threat regardless of having experienced strikers like Morata and Moreno who has scored 30 goals for Villereal this season.

But as the game went on Spain started to create more and more chances they looked unable to cope with the pressure, with Morata being played through on goal and hitting it wide on the one-on-one situation, and Olmo’s shot being clawed away by Sweden keeper, they didn’t seem confident in front of goal. 

And although Spain were the more attack-minded team throughout the game, there were more than enough chances for Sweden to take the lead and win the game. With La Liga’s young player of the year, Isak having his deflected shot hitting the inside of the post, and Berg, getting the ball squared to him and fluffing his opportunity with the ball getting stuck under his feet.

If Spain is looking to succeed in the European competition, they will have to find another gear and improve in front of goal, in the dying embers Alba squared the ball into the box with Sarabia arriving in the box and volleying wide despite being unmarked.

featured image credit sky sports