The European championship group stage is two-thirds complete. It has been a fascinating tournament to watch, from the shock incident of Christian Eriksen to Cristiano Ronaldo breaking the goal-scoring record. From bottles of Euro 2020 sponsored Coca Cola and Heineken being removed from the press conferences to a few brilliant matches such as France v Germany, it has really been a fun ride so far.
Even UEFA has asked the Euro 2020 teams and officials to stop removing sponsor bottles with the trend being followed up by Cristiano Ronaldo who started the trend on Monday at a news conference by hiding two Coca-Cola bottles and replacing them with a water bottle with the Juventus star holding up a bottle of water, and saying, “Agua! (Water!)”.
The most interesting part about this was the impact the Portuguese player’s action had, leading to a $4bn fall in the market value of the massive company. Coca-Cola’s share price fell from $56.10 to $55.22 after Ronaldo’s 30 minute press conference promoting water over the soft drink, dropping its market value from $242bn to $238bn. How crazy is that?
Similarly, Paul Pogba, a practicing Muslim, followed the trend and removed the bottle of Heineken beer when he was speaking to the media after he was was given the ‘Star of the Match’ award in France’s 1-0 over Germany. And just like that, players like Manuel Locatelli and others followed the trend in a serious or witty way!
Too much talk about the off-the-field drama; let’s mention the topic on the field.
Teams such as Wales, Netherlands and Italy have been the dark horses for me, and their response has been a tad bit surprising which is great for the tournament.
Let’s mention some heavyweights or interesting scenarios that we can possibly see in MD-3:
Italy v Wales
Italy has been perfect under Roberto Mancini, qualifying and needing just a draw at home to the Welsh side to top the group. Turkey, which was touted as an outside contender, and Switzerland with decent players failed to showcase their talent, which puts Wales in a pole position to reach second even with a draw to the Italian side.
Russia v Denmark
With Belgium already qualified and top the group, it will be an interesting game to watch between the Russians and the Danes. Denmark played extremely well against the world #1 team according to the FIFA rankings, with open-ended chances and creating tons of problems for the opposition defense, but the real pressure will be on the Russians who have a must-win match on their hands as Finland plays the Red Devils. A win would secure second in the group for the Russians, but they probably need only a draw because the Finns are unlikely to beat Belgium.
Ukraine vs Austria
This game should decide which team qualifies and finishes second behind a Dutch side that can coast. Ukraine needs to avoid defeat, and it’s the other way round for David Alaba’s side though a draw to finish with four points in third will almost certainly be good enough. If one loses, they have to wait and see if three points will be enough in third.
Czech Republic vs England
This game would be fun to watch, simply to see Patrik Schick creating problems for England’s defenders. It will also be fascinating to watch how the Three Lions also approach their game, given what players Gareth Southgate starts from among the many talented, technical players he has at his disposal.
Slovakia v Spain
Who would have thought Slovakia would secure three points in the opening game against Poland while Spain struggled just to put the ball into the net? It will be interesting to see how the pressing and physicality of Hamsik’s side will fare against a team that likes to keep most of the ball.
Portugal v France
This is the rematch of the Euro 2016 final, and what a brilliant game that turned out to be! Portugal has a better depth and attacking threat than then; it will be a great to see the World Champions seeking revenge from the final. After both teams slipped in MD-2 (Portugal losing and France drawing), this game should be simply amazing to watch. Can Portugal’s defenders score again, and if so, in which net?
Sunday 20 June
Note: Both of Sunday’s matches kickoff together, so we should see all four lineups before our fantasy deadline.
- Group A: Italy v Wales (Rome)
- Group A: Switzerland v Turkey (Baku)
Monday 21 June
- Group C: North Macedonia v Netherlands (Amsterdam)
- Group C: Ukraine v Austria (Bucharest)
- Group B: Russia v Denmark (Copenhagen)
- Group B: Finland v Belgium (St Petersburg)
Tuesday 22 June
- Group D: Czech Republic v England (London)
- Group D: Croatia v Scotland (Glasgow)
Wednesday 23 June
- Group E: Slovakia v Spain (Seville)
- Group E: Sweden v Poland (St Petersburg)
- Group F: Germany v Hungary (Munich)
- Group F: Portugal v France (Budapest)
Rest days on 24 and 25 June
[All stats sourced from UEFA]
What are your predictions for these fixtures? How much has the return of fans improved the spectacle? Any specific match you’re looking forward to watching? What surprise team do you think crashes out at the group stage? And, whom do you think is going to the final?
Please let us know in the comments below, and if you hear any late selection news (e.g. Covid-19 positive or injury), please share!