Phew! What a game-week that was! After lots of anticipation, Euro 2020 kicked off at the Stadio Olimpico in Italy, and it has been an emotional roller coaster since.
Italy put on a splendid display against a tricky Turkey, tipped to be the surprise package of the tournament. Despite the early show of resilience, the Turkish defense was finally broken down courtesy of an own goal from Merih Demiral. After the first goal, the flood gates opened, with Insigne and Immobile sealing a wonderful 3-0 win for Italy.
The second day was off to a cagey start with the game between Wales and Switzerland. Swiss striker Brael Embolo ran the show, causing the Welsh defense all sorts of problems. Embolo could have won his team a penalty early on if he had taken a “dive” from the shirt pull, but he chose to remain honest. Embolo eventually scored a clinical header. This goal was however canceled out by Cardiff City talisman Kieffer Moore who headed home an equalizer for Wales, the match ending 1-1.
The game that followed transported us from sublime to surreal. In the game between Finland and Denmark in Copenhagen, Christian Eriksen collapsed just as he was about to receive the ball from a throw-in. The way Eriksen went down reminded me of the way the late Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes collapsed before sadly passing away, after being hit by a bouncer. Watching Eriksen receive CPR, and seeing what his wife was going through at that moment is one of the toughest things I’ve ever watched.
Simon Kjær’s initiative and Kasper Schmeichel leadership, plus excellent intuition of the referee, the composure of the Danish medical team, and the prayers of a billion football fans thankfully saved Christian Eriksen’s life following cardiac arrest. After Eriksen was reported stable in hospital the game resumed, debutants Finland winning the game 1-0 against a diminished Danish side.
Perhaps the game shouldn’t have gone ahead with both teams mentally drained, but could they derail the whole tournament after hearing the good news? Respect has to go out to both sets of players for carrying on. In the last game of calendar day 2, Belgium eased past Russia with a clinical 3-0 win, Lukaku scoring a brace.
Day 3 dawned on England facing its highest-ranked group opponent Croatia who had knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup in the semifinals. England got redemption with a tight 1-0 win, courtesy of a composed finish from Raheem Sterling, who managed to prove his critics wrong once again. First-timers North Macedonia lost 3-1 to a gritty Austrian side in what was a much closer match than one would have expected. In the last game of day 3, the Netherlands beat Ukraine 3-2 on a late winner from right wing-back Denzel Dumfries, after Ukraine’s Roman Yaremchuk equalized in the 79th minute.
The next day, Andy Roberston’s Scotland was humbled 2-0 by a vibrant Czech Republic side whose Patrik Schick scored a brilliant goal from the halfway line. Schick’s goal is an early contender for the goal of the tournament. In the following game, Slovakia shocked Poland with a 2-1 win. Wojciech Szczęsny was unlucky to trap an own goal into his own net after Róbert Mak’s brilliant solo effort rebounded from the near post. Grzegorz Krychowiak was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a silly challenge in the sixty-second minute, which virtually sealed the coffin for Poland. That was the first and the only red card of the week. The last fixture of the day, Spain vs Sweden, was a not so boring 0-0 draw. Spain bossed the game with 86% possession but had no goals to show for it. Despite La Roja’s valiant efforts, Victor Lindelof and the Swedish wall would not be breached.
In the group of death, Portugal defeated Hungary 3-0 courtesy of Raphaël Guerreiro’s deflected shot and a very late Cristiano Ronaldo brace. Portugal should be flattered by the 3-0 result as the game was much closer than the scoreline suggests. Cristiano Ronaldo is now the all-time leading goal scorer in Euro finals with eleven goals — two ahead of French legend Michel Platini. The last game of the week, Germany vs France once again proved why France is the favorite to win the competition. France beat Germany 1-0 courtesy of a Mats Hummels own goal from a Lucas Hernandez cross, with Pogba’s exquisite outside-of-foot pass to the French left-back unlocking the the defense. The searing pace of Mbappe was too hot for the Germans to handle as their defense was regularly cut open throughout the game. Had it not been for some last-ditch tackles, Germany would have been looking at a scoreline of 3-0 or 4-0, which would have been devastating for their chances to make it out of the “Group of Death”.
My score predictions for Md-2
- Finland vs Russia - Russia win 3:0
- Turkey vs Wales - 1:1 draw
- Italy vs Switzerland - Switzerland win 1:0
- Ukraine vs North Macedonia - Ukraine win 4:0
- Denmark vs Belgium - 1:1 draw
- Netherland vs Austria - 2:2 draw
- Sweden vs Slovakia - Sweden win 2:0
- Croatia vs Czech Republic - Croatia win 3:0
- England vs Scotland - England win 5:0
- Hungary vs France - France win 3:0
- Portugal vs Germany - 0:0 draw
- Spain vs Poland - Spain win 2:0
Be sure to read Olakunle’s MD-2 player picks and MiQ’s MD-2 Rate my team article before making your transfers. Check out my tactical analysis article to know which teams to target for attacking and defensive returns. For details on chip strategy, check out my MD-1 player picks article.
Also read our group previews (Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, and Group F) and our fixture difficulty ratings. And don’t forget to join our mini-league!
Then be sure to log in at www.nevermanagealone.com throughout the tournament. We’ll have player picks and rate-my-team articles, as well as a Live Chat like this one ahead of each round!
Remember we have a short turnaround — The deadline is less than nine hours away as I finish writing, so get your transfers saved! There’s only one deadline-hour match — FIN vs RUS — so not a lot for late shopping on confirmed lineups.
Whom did you transfer in and out? Do you have any tactical questions before you save? Who’s your captain stack? And what are your score predictions for MD-2? Am I underestimating Scotland by predicting a 5:0 win for England? And do you think Eriksen’s CPR being telecast was correct?
And finally — If you here any late breaking lineup news, please let us know in the comments section!