Round 1 of the Group Stage is Over. What can we take away from it?
Euro 2020 so far has been pretty entertaining, while also being heart-wrenching, but thankfully not tragic (Thank God for Christian Eriksen’s health). That said, there’s a lot of impressions that the opening set of matches made on me, a few of which I feel are worth discussing.
First off, the Czech Republic looks like a legitimate threat. Sure, they beat a Scottish team that hasn’t made a major tournament appearance since the 1990s, but the Czech’s win was comprehensive, as they dictated the pace of play for 90 minutes and rarely gave the Scots an opportunity on offense. Keep an eye on them.
As for Spain, I have to say that I was intensely disappointed. This is a nation that was world champion not too long ago and ruled Europe for the better part of a decade. But now, they look like a shell of themselves, limping to a 0-0 draw against Sweden. That shouldn’t be taken as a slight against the Swedes (they maintained a solid defensive shape throughout), but rather a criticism of Spanish manager Luis Enrique, who decided not to bring longtime captain Sergio Ramos to the tournament. In fact, he didn’t bring a single Real Madrid player to the tournament, the first time that’s happened in at least 50 years. No wonder they’re struggling!
Lastly, Group F looks every bit as intimidating and fun as advertised. The Group of Death, featuring World Cup champion France, defending Euro champion Portugal, European blueblood Germany, and a Hungarian team looking to restore themselves to their former glory, gave us two terrific matches today. Portugal showed their ability to move quickly, waiting until the final ten minutes of the game to score three goals, including two from the new all-time Euro goalscoring leader, Cristiano Ronaldo. Meanwhile, France beat Germany in a thrilling match that put Germany in the unenviable position of looking up at two incredibly strong squads.
All in all, the first round of the Euro 2020 Group Stage was exciting, and it’ll only get better!