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Sjg's Euro 2020/21 Predictions Thread


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Posted (edited)

Great post.

As for Italy, back-line is questionable.

Florenzia, Calabria, Di Lorenzo, Darmian all all decent RB options, depending on the tactical setup.

CB positions are where it gest interesting and Mancini should show some guts.
Chiellini is a former player, one of all-time greats, but he's done.
Bonucci is 34 and has been nothing short of awful this season, but the problem is that other options are also questionable.
Roma's Mancini is also error-prone and Acerbi is also old and on decline.
Romagnoli lost his place to Tomori and he should definitely not be starting. Bastoni should be the definitive starter, best Italian CB this season by far.
On the left there's another  hole. Spinazzola is always injured and Emerson is a non-factor at Chelsea. But as we all know, that could be an advantage due to ridiculous schedule this season.

Barella and Verratti should be defnitive midfield starters. Locatelli or Jorginho for the third position. Maybe Pellegrini, but Mancini used him as a winger.

Insignie-Chiesa on the wings and Immobile/Belotti up front.

If Mancini manages to sort the defense out, Italy could be really dangerous because there's no real pressure on them.

 

Croatia? I don't expect that much because Dalić is just a lucky man who has no clue how he got to WC final.
Question marks are if Vrsaljko can get himself into shape and Dalić's CB selection. If Ćaleta-Car starts ahead of Vida or Lovren.
Rangers' Barišić will start on the left, with Kovačić-Brozović-Modrić midfield. Perišić and Rebić are in decent form on the wings and Kramarić recovered from his knee injury.
I actually think that this upcoming generation has way more depth than the old one (28+), but you can't replace Rakitić and Modrić afterwards just like that.

But due to Dalić, I can't see anything past first knockout round being a thing. Second place in the group pretty much guarantees a duel against Portugal or France.
Game against England can be decisive. Easier opponent than those two.

 

Btw, I think it's going to be between Ukraine and Holland for first in C. Austria are nowhere close. Wouldn't surprise me if Ukraine gets first place.

Edited by GunmaN1905
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It would be good, maybe this thread or another where people predict (sensibly) teams starting 11. Maybe not England as that's done to death. But fans of other nations put up likely starting 11s

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16 hours ago, GunmaN1905 said:

Great post.

As for Italy, back-line is questionable.

Florenzia, Calabria, Di Lorenzo, Darmian all all decent RB options, depending on the tactical setup.

CB positions are where it gest interesting and Mancini should show some guts.
Chiellini is a former player, one of all-time greats, but he's done.
Bonucci is 34 and has been nothing short of awful this season, but the problem is that other options are also questionable.
Roma's Mancini is also error-prone and Acerbi is also old and on decline.
Romagnoli lost his place to Tomori and he should definitely not be starting. Bastoni should be the definitive starter, best Italian CB this season by far.
On the left there's another  hole. Spinazzola is always injured and Emerson is a non-factor at Chelsea. But as we all know, that could be an advantage due to ridiculous schedule this season.

Barella and Verratti should be defnitive midfield starters. Locatelli or Jorginho for the third position. Maybe Pellegrini, but Mancini used him as a winger.

Insignie-Chiesa on the wings and Immobile/Belotti up front.

If Mancini manages to sort the defense out, Italy could be really dangerous because there's no real pressure on them.

 

Croatia? I don't expect that much because Dalić is just a lucky man who has no clue how he got to WC final.
Question marks are if Vrsaljko can get himself into shape and Dalić's CB selection. If Ćaleta-Car starts ahead of Vida or Lovren.
Rangers' Barišić will start on the left, with Kovačić-Brozović-Modrić midfield. Perišić and Rebić are in decent form on the wings and Kramarić recovered from his knee injury.
I actually think that this upcoming generation has way more depth than the old one (28+), but you can't replace Rakitić and Modrić afterwards just like that.

But due to Dalić, I can't see anything past first knockout round being a thing. Second place in the group pretty much guarantees a duel against Portugal or France.
Game against England can be decisive. Easier opponent than those two.

 

Btw, I think it's going to be between Ukraine and Holland for first in C. Austria are nowhere close. Wouldn't surprise me if Ukraine gets first place.

On the Italians- I broadly agree. This is a decent Italy side with a good manager who have had good recent results. My issue is... a lack of absolute top quality at both ends of the pitch. Italy still have a good clutch of defensive players but I'm not sure that any of them (possibly excepting Bastoni) are truly at the level which, let's say, Chiellini and Bonucci were about 5 to 10 years ago. At the top end of the pitch, Insigne, Chiesa, Immobile and Belotti are all very good players. But none of them really stand out as being truly special or the type of player who can really propel you to win a tournament. That being said, the Italians on paper should have a relatively straightforward draw so that could definitely help them spring a shock. 

The next Croatian generation may have more depth... but in an international tournament I value having Rakitic, Modric, Mandzukic and Perisic in their prime over having a number of players who are a step or two down in quality but can fill in if someone is injured. Frankly, at a major tournament, if your top 3/4 players are injured you're probably not gonna win it regardless of who you are. 

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45 minutes ago, skybluedave said:

It would be good, maybe this thread or another where people predict (sensibly) teams starting 11. Maybe not England as that's done to death. But fans of other nations put up likely starting 11s

I'm happy for this thread to be used as a general predictions thread if people want to use it for that. I'll be personally using it to post my thoughts as the tournament progresses. 

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Wonder what the odds are at betting agencies that the tournament will be won by a team starting in Group F? I can see that as the most likely result, with the favorite order being for me 1. France, 2. Portugal, 3. Germany. Hungary was rather unlucky to land here. I can also see Italy, Belgium and Denmark doing nice results in the tournament. I see no way in which England could ever win it (despite the positive comments on this forum which is very UK-dominated), and other disappointments could be Spain and Holland. 

Like the whole season beyond us it is going to be a very strange tournament, and to be fair I feel little to no excitement for it to start.

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The way the system is set up, predictions will just go out of the window. You will end up playing with a 3rd placed team, the path is not predetermined. In the past you know that if say Italy and Germany topped their groups, they'd play each other in the final. Now that's gone and we can have a 2nd placed team against a 3rd placed team from the group reach the final! 

 

I would give Italy very high chances to go far if Verratti is fit, but it looks unlikely even if Mancini is hopeful. Their defense is not in great shape, especially if the old guard will be used, but there's no team out there with a solid defensive line anyway.

Assuming everything goes as expected, the make or break game will be versus Belgium in Munich for the quarters. I think Belgium is very talented but lacks in mentality and their depth is limited. They cannot afford to lose De Bruyne or have Hazard completely out of shape.

 

I'd like to see the Dutch do well, it's been a while! Their group looks doable but they don't really know who they face next. Could be one of Germany/France/Portugal for example. Same applies for any of those three, if they face the Dutch next, they could be out, so cannot really say much about their odds. 

I know people expect Portugal to do very well, but I think they will struggle to go far.

 

England is in a tricky spot. Should be an easy group win imo, Croatia is lacking this year. Perisic and Mandzukic are very important leaders for them and they're not up to the task anymore, Modric is getting older. Their midfielder is strong but that's about it. Topping the group should be easy for England, the problem is what happens right after. Runners up of Group F. So any of Germany, Portugal or France. Wembley or not, that's not a fixture you'd expect England to win. 

Silly enough, if England ends up 2nd, they will play the 2nd placed team of Spain's group instead, so unless Spain doesn't do the job, it's going to be one of Sweden, Slovakia or Poland and neither should scare England. 

 

What a messed up system.... 

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22 hours ago, Muttley84 said:

Wonder what the odds are at betting agencies that the tournament will be won by a team starting in Group F? I can see that as the most likely result, with the favorite order being for me 1. France, 2. Portugal, 3. Germany. Hungary was rather unlucky to land here. I can also see Italy, Belgium and Denmark doing nice results in the tournament. I see no way in which England could ever win it (despite the positive comments on this forum which is very UK-dominated), and other disappointments could be Spain and Holland. 

Like the whole season beyond us it is going to be a very strange tournament, and to be fair I feel little to no excitement for it to start.

I can certainly see how England could win this tournament. We have a talented set of forwards, midfielders and full-backs. We have a CB who has been top quality for City this season in John Stones. If Maguire is fit, our outfield players will be a match for anyone in the tournament. 

Not to say the England side aren't capable of falling short of expectations. We have a poor selection of GKs and a manager who isn't entirely trusted in relation to his in-game management. There are weaknesses in the squad. But there are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic. 

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8 hours ago, Yuko said:

The way the system is set up, predictions will just go out of the window. You will end up playing with a 3rd placed team, the path is not predetermined. In the past you know that if say Italy and Germany topped their groups, they'd play each other in the final. Now that's gone and we can have a 2nd placed team against a 3rd placed team from the group reach the final! 

 

I would give Italy very high chances to go far if Verratti is fit, but it looks unlikely even if Mancini is hopeful. Their defense is not in great shape, especially if the old guard will be used, but there's no team out there with a solid defensive line anyway.

Assuming everything goes as expected, the make or break game will be versus Belgium in Munich for the quarters. I think Belgium is very talented but lacks in mentality and their depth is limited. They cannot afford to lose De Bruyne or have Hazard completely out of shape.

 

I'd like to see the Dutch do well, it's been a while! Their group looks doable but they don't really know who they face next. Could be one of Germany/France/Portugal for example. Same applies for any of those three, if they face the Dutch next, they could be out, so cannot really say much about their odds. 

I know people expect Portugal to do very well, but I think they will struggle to go far.

 

England is in a tricky spot. Should be an easy group win imo, Croatia is lacking this year. Perisic and Mandzukic are very important leaders for them and they're not up to the task anymore, Modric is getting older. Their midfielder is strong but that's about it. Topping the group should be easy for England, the problem is what happens right after. Runners up of Group F. So any of Germany, Portugal or France. Wembley or not, that's not a fixture you'd expect England to win. 

Silly enough, if England ends up 2nd, they will play the 2nd placed team of Spain's group instead, so unless Spain doesn't do the job, it's going to be one of Sweden, Slovakia or Poland and neither should scare England. 

 

What a messed up system.... 

1. Agreed, usually I would stick my head above the parapet to make knockout predictions as well, but that is impossible with the 24 team format so it will have to wait until after the group stages when the tournament tree should become a bit clearer. 

2. Also agreed that England are in a tricky spot if they finish first or second and have to face one of the Group F sides. Portugal and France are sides best avoided by anyone in this tournament. To be fair, I would back England against Germany (depending on injuries). Both sides have talented forwards but I rate the English defence above the German defence and England have been playing better than Germany over the past few years. 

3. I thought we were still paired with second in Group F if we finished second? I thought we had a shot at Group E if we finished third and got through (which is obviously a bad idea for a whole host of reasons). 

4. I don't really rate the Dutch. No Van Dijk hurts them and I have no faith in De Boer as a coach. Plus they refuse to play Weghorst despite his excellent season for Wolfsburg leaving them with the talented yet inconsistent Depay as their best attacking player. 

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Completely forgot that De Boer ended up being the Dutch NT coach.

 

As for England's potential matchup if they finish 2nd, I found that on the wiki page of the tournament:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_Euro_2020#Knockout_phase


 

 

28 June 2021 – Copenhagen
  
Runner-up Group D
Runner-up Group E

 

 

29 June 2021 – London
  
Winner Group D    
Runner-up Group F

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16 minutes ago, sjg11 said:

I can certainly see how England could win this tournament. We have a talented set of forwards, midfielders and full-backs. We have a CB who has been top quality for City this season in John Stones. If Maguire is fit, our outfield players will be a match for anyone in the tournament. 

Not to say the England side aren't capable of falling short of expectations. We have a poor selection of GKs and a manager who isn't entirely trusted in relation to his in-game management. There are weaknesses in the squad. But there are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic. 

I expect we'll get KO'd in the first KO round by one of France, Germany or Portugal. 

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43 minutes ago, sjg11 said:

We have a talented set of forwards, midfielders and full-backs. We have a CB who has been top quality for City this season in John Stones. If Maguire is fit, our outfield players will be a match for anyone in the tournament. 

Can't argue with that, the players are not lacking talent, but you still need a real team to win it. From the outside it looks to me that when the England squad gets together there are to many stars and divas, the media and social media spotlight is so high on them, and some of them are also behaving like kids or brats. And I have serious doubts that Southgate is the man to keep the group under control and make a real team out of them.

That is why they aren't my favorites, but France and Portugal are. You can see Deschamps and Fernando Santos building some cohesion on the similar talented players, and also removing those who did not fit well with the group. They feel more like a TEAM to me. 

Of course, given how bad I am in the prediction leagues around here I can be also dead wrong.

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9 minutes ago, Carambau said:

Looks like Muller is back in the squad for Germany according to BILD

Asinine that he was ever out. 

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5 hours ago, XuluBak said:

Asinine that he was ever out. 

Low and his stubbornness. 

He shouldn't even have this summer's Euro's in charge of the team imo. 

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On 16/05/2021 at 21:51, Yuko said:

Completely forgot that De Boer ended up being the Dutch NT coach.

 

As for England's potential matchup if they finish 2nd, I found that on the wiki page of the tournament:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_Euro_2020#Knockout_phase


 

 

28 June 2021 – Copenhagen
  
Runner-up Group D
Runner-up Group E

 

 

29 June 2021 – London
  
Winner Group D    
Runner-up Group F

Ah yeah you’re right but with the caveat that if we finish second then we face the top side in Group F in the last 8. So not much better really. 

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On 16/05/2021 at 22:28, Muttley84 said:

Can't argue with that, the players are not lacking talent, but you still need a real team to win it. From the outside it looks to me that when the England squad gets together there are to many stars and divas, the media and social media spotlight is so high on them, and some of them are also behaving like kids or brats. And I have serious doubts that Southgate is the man to keep the group under control and make a real team out of them.

That is why they aren't my favorites, but France and Portugal are. You can see Deschamps and Fernando Santos building some cohesion on the similar talented players, and also removing those who did not fit well with the group. They feel more like a TEAM to me. 

Of course, given how bad I am in the prediction leagues around here I can be also dead wrong.

I cannot disagree that I have more faith in Deschamps and Santos than in Southgate. My issue with Southgate more relates to in game management rather than a Capello-esque failure to control the squad. Southgate’s man management seems fine to me. 

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2 minutes ago, sjg11 said:

Ah yeah you’re right but with the caveat that if we finish second then we face the top side in Group F in the last 8. So not much better really. 

Given how it's a round later and those sides are of similar quality, I think it's better to have whatever chances you'll have in the last 8 than the last 16. It's one game anyway. 

Quarter finals after winning the group and then following match gets you Spain anyway... 

 

So England vs Germany/France/Portugal, whoever wins plays Spain. 

Isn't it better to play someone like Austria in the 16 and then maybe one of France/Portugal/Germany? Sounds better to me. 

 

But getting complacent to end up 2nd may send you 3rd in these situations. 

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3 minutes ago, Yuko said:

Given how it's a round later and those sides are of similar quality, I think it's better to have whatever chances you'll have in the last 8 than the last 16. It's one game anyway. 

Quarter finals after winning the group and then following match gets you Spain anyway... 

 

So England vs Germany/France/Portugal, whoever wins plays Spain. 

Isn't it better to play someone like Austria in the 16 and then maybe one of France/Portugal/Germany? Sounds better to me. 

 

But getting complacent to end up 2nd may send you 3rd in these situations. 

Exactly. Trying to play for second is playing with fire. Maybe if we finished with Croatia and had already beaten Czechs and Scotland it would be an option. But starting with Croatia should probably kill that idea. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sjg's predictions- Euro 2020/1- Round One

Turkey vs Italy- Rome

This is a tough opener and it will prove to a decent test of the Italians' early credentials to challenge for the tournament. Turkey have recently shown an ability to pick up good results against Europe's traditional heavyweights and they are more than capable of getting a result in Rome. From my perspective, the main test here will be how the Italian forwards penetrate a disciplined Turkish defence. Chiesa, Immobile and Insigne are all good players but none of them are truly top-drawer and the Turks are capable of frustrating Italy. Soyuncu and Merih Demiral are a good CB pairing for Turkey. 

Overall, I think home advantage makes me conclude that the Italians will eke out a narrow win here but I would not be surprised if Turkey manage to get a draw. I expect a low-scoring game.

Prediction: Narrow Italy win

Wales vs Switzerland- Baku

Wales really don't impress me at the moment- I think they're an average side whose best players' best days are in the past with a significant amount of off-field turbulence. A year ago Wales might have been able to provide a more effective obstacle for the other three sides in the group but I don't have a lot of faith in them here. Switzerland are one of the most reliably decent yet unspectacular sides in Europe and this is the type of game which, historically, they tend to win pretty comfortably without ever excelling. 

Prediction: Switzerland win

Denmark vs Finland- Copenhagen

The Danes are a strong side with a good record in recent international fixtures. Finland are novices at this level despite an excellent qualifying campaign. Finland are by no means no-hopers... but the key game for them will be the game against Russia in Saint-Petersburg. I can't see them stopping Denmark in the opener. 

Prediction: Denmark win

Belgium vs Russia- Saint-Petersburg

These two sides met in qualifying and Belgium won both games with considerable ease. De Bruyne's fitness may stall Belgium slightly but they should still have too much for an average Russian side who will do well to reach the second round. 

Prediction: Belgium win

Austria- North Macedonia- Bucharest

I think there is a decent chance that, in one of their three games, the Macedonians will get a result against someone. There is a reasonable chance that this will happen against the Austrians... but Austria are a solid side with a few good players. I think, on balance, I have to predict an Austrian victory. They should prove to be too much for an awkward Macedonia side. 

Prediction: Austria win

Holland- Ukraine- Amsterdam

I really don't rate Holland under Frank De Boer. I think this is a weak group and I think they will get through it but I think they're vulnerable to a couple of bad results/performances while doing so. Ukraine were good enough to finish ahead of Portugal and Serbia in the qualifiers and have a few decent players. I think I might go for a tepid draw here. 

Prediction: Draw

England vs Croatia- London

If this game was on neutral soil in a tournament opener I would probably have predicted a reasonably entertaining and engaging draw. This is a strong England side though and, frankly, England's record at Wembley is very solid. I think these factors probably give England a significant edge though. This game is similar to the Turkey-Italy game for me (not in terms of the game's style- I expect this one to be significantly more entertaining- more in the sense of a good contender for the tournament facing solid opposition in their first match where home advantage probably gives them the edge)

Prediction: England win

Scotland vs Czech Republic- Glasgow

It's a real shame that Scotland's first appearance at a major tournament for 23 years will not be greeted by the full Hampden roar. It's probably a good thing if you're Czech though, as I reckon an improving Czech side are capable of getting a result from an empty Glasgow. These two sides look pretty evenly matched- I would maybe give the Czechs the edge on paper but home advantage does still give Scotland a small boost. I think a draw is the likely outcome. 

Prediction: Draw

Poland vs Slovakia- Saint Petersburg

Poland are a good side. Slovakia do not inspire me at all. Poland win. Hopefully Lewandowski will be able to get his tournament going with a couple of goals here. 

Prediction: Poland win

Spain vs Sweden- Seville

Spain are a decent side with a decent coach but I don't think Sweden are a good opener for them. Where Spain struggle it tends to be with penetrating a deep, well-organised defensive block. Sweden historically are very capable of frustrating sides with bigger reputations in a deep, well-organised defensive block. A draw here I think. 

Prediction: Draw

Hungary vs Portugal- Budapest

Poor Hungary. No side in football history has ever had a tougher first round draw than they have here. Portugal to win. It's fortunate that Portugal start with the Hungarians, if they do their job and get the win in Budapest it takes a significant amount of pressure off of them before their games against France and Germany. 

Prediction: Portugal win

France vs Germany- Munich

Germany are, in my view, the weakest of the three big sides in this group. But they do have home advantage. However, the German defence has been leaking goals for a number of years now and, if a side are built to exploit that while finding a way to limit Germany's offensive talent, it's France. 

Prediction: France win

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4 minutes ago, Baptista_8 said:

More or less spot on :D

They're predictions mate

I meant the analysis, not the final outcome he predicted. :mad:

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50 minutes ago, GunmaN1905 said:

I'd go with Ukraine win over Holland and I can see Macedonia getting a draw, others are more or less spot on.

Ukraine-Holland... was a difficult one to predict. On paper, even without van Dijk, there is a lot of talent in the Dutch squad. But I have no faith in De Boer to bring anything out of them. So... I could see Ukraine winning because Holland are a disorganised mess. I could see Holland winning on a couple of moments of individual quality. Overall, I felt it was pretty evenly matched. 

I can see Macedonia getting a draw but if you played that game 10 times I think an Austria win would just about be the most likely outcome. 

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Italy 3-0 Turkey

  • For the first time in a while I think Wales might actually have a reasonable shot at finishing third in the group. It's difficult to fully assess one game in isolation (and an excellent Italy performance is an important factor in judging this one) but Turkey were pretty awful. Yilmaz was completely smothered by Bonucci and Chiellini and the Turks never looked like they were capable of successfully breaking through the Italian press. 
  • Defensively, Turkey were ok in the first-half but the lack of presence in midfield meant their defence were far too deep with no effective outlet to push the Italians back and cause them problems. In such circumstances it was inevitable that the Italians would eventually break through which they did after some tired Turkish defending led to a Demiral own-goal. 
  • Once Turkey fell behind their response was extremely tired and they fell to pieces defensively, allowing the Italians to pick them off at will with further goals from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne. 
  • Italy were excellent. Their pressing was brilliant and you can clearly see the impact that a top coach like Roberto Mancini has had on this Italian squad. Italy look focused with a clear idea of their system and style of play. Turkey never even looked like seriously troubling Donnarumma and the Italians swarmed around a weak Turkish midfield. 
  • Insigne and Spinazzola were excellent in the second-half in particular. If Insigne can maintain the form he showed in the opener throughout the tournament then he could be the high-class attacking player that may allow the Italians to unlock a tight game in the knockout stages against the tournament's better sides. For years Insigne has never quite found his form in the shirt of the Azzurri so it is refreshing to see that changing. 
  • I'm interested to see how a more functional offence could cause problems for Bonucci and Chiellini. If there is a weakpoint for the Italians, given their style of play, that could be it. 
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Denmark 0-1 Finland

  • I don't want to talk about this one too much beyond wishing Christian Eriksen well and noting the brilliant response of the medical staff, officials and the Danish players. This game really should not have been restarted today for the sake of protecting the Danish players. 
  • Credit to Finland for winning their first ever game at a major tournament. 

Switzerland 1-1 Wales

  • I'll admit that things are starting to fall into place for Wales- Turkey started poorly and they got a decent point against the Swiss in Baku today. They may yet be able to prove me wrong and find a route through to the knockout stages. 
  • Danny Ward was excellent for Wales today- Switzerland really should have scored more than once but for a strong goalkeeping performance. Dan James was a threat down the left flank for much of the afternoon and Kieffer Moore took his chance in the second-half when it came. 
  • That being said, Wales were definitely the weaker of the two sides on the basis of this performance. Morrell and Allen really struggled to assert themselves in any meaningful way allowing the Swiss to apply consistent pressure to the Welsh backline when they were in possession. Wales' only alternative outlet often seemed to be a long ball to Kieffer Moore who was then forced to battle gamely against the three Swiss defenders (who generally marshalled Moore pretty effectively throughout the 90 minutes) and they really struggled to do much offensively, particularly in the opening-half where the Swiss really should have been 1-0 up at the interval. 
  • Switzerland will be kicking themselves, they should have won this match. They weren't clinical enough in the final-half despite a strong performance from Breel Embolo. Haris Seferovic in particular was wasteful and (aside from some excellent set-pieces) Shaqiri was largely anonymous. 
  • Once they did take the lead they then took their foot off the pedal. I question Petkovic's in-game management, I think bringing Zakaria on was sensible (Zakaria was a good player to add fresh legs to the engine room) but maybe they needed to replace Shaqiri with another attacking player rather than Zakaria in order to maintain their forward momentum. They allowed Wales to build a little bit of pressure and they were punished for it and I can't help but think that if the Swiss had just kept trying to keep possession and break down the Welsh defence they probably would have got a second goal relatively quickly after Embolo's opener. 
  • Both sides remain very much alive in the competition and will be looking to their game with Turkey to put some more points on the board and to hopefully seal a place in the last-16. 

Belgium 3-0 Russia

  • I've said for a while that I think Russia are a very average side and Belgium did an excellent job of proving me right tonight. Lukaku in particular was excellent, gobbling up the two chances that came his way when he was able to run into the space behind Semenov in the Russian defence. 
  • Russia's defensive players look pretty poor and Shunin really doesn't convince in goal- his error led to the Meunier goal and he was caught flat-footed for the third goal as well. 
  • Russia also don't look particularly well-coached. Beyond long-balls to Artem Dzyuba and set-pieces I'm not sure what the main offensive strategy was for the Russians. Too often Russian forward players would try to engage in a press and the midfield and defence wouldn't push up to constrict the space and help to make the press effective. Given the slowness of the Russian defence and given that they were up against Lukaku, dropping deep wasn't a terrible idea but if you're going to drop deep and stay compact you need the entire side to be doing it (see Finland earlier) not just your defensive players. Otherwise it becomes too easy for Belgium's offensive players to find space and start causing havoc. 
  • Belgium largely just got the job done- it was impressive to see that their offensive unit was still firing very effectively even with an injured De Bruyne and an out-of-form E Hazard. 
  • That being said, the Vertonghen injury would worry me if I were Belgium. Thomas Vermaelen is a shadow of the defender he once was and Boyata is a liability. The Belgian backline does look shaky and the better offences in the tournament could definitely exploit that weakness later in the tournament. 
  • Lukaku is an excellent striker who was unfairly criticised during his time in English football. He has also been a very good goalscorer and is capable of bullying defenders in a way that many strikers simply aren't capable of. 
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Croatia 0-1 England

  • The early kick-offs at major tournaments are rarely the best games at a tournament- the summer heat in the middle of the afternoon often serves to sap games of a level of intensity which other games in the tournament will have. This was definitely the case at Wembley today. 
  • That being said, I was pleased with England's start to the tournament. I can see the more negative sections of the English fanbase/media negatively comparing our opener with Italy and Belgium but Croatia are better than Russia and Turkey are and are not the type of side who usually get beaten 3 or 4-0. In fact, aside from a couple of Capello-era qualifiers, I struggle to think of Croatia ever really being thrashed at a major tournament. 
  • Broadly, when I judge an England performance, I look at the chances conceded versus the chances created. Overall, that balance was pretty significantly in England's favour today- Croatia created nothing all game and England created enough that I'm comfortable saying we deserved the win. It is easy to focus sometimes, as a fan, on good attacking play but defending is half the game and this was a very strong defensive performance by England. It was a pleasing start to the tournament and it definitely provides us with a good base to build on moving forward. And it allows us to beat the side who knocked us out in 2018 which is always a positive way to start the next tournament!
  • From a tactical point of view, I don't really get the decision to play Trippier at left-back. Playing Trippier over Walker is definitely a reasonable decision for Southgate to make, particularly given the lack of another great set-piece taker in the side. But Shaw or Chilwell should be starting at left-back in this tournament- both of them are entering into the tournament in good form and if you have two good left-backs then there's no need to stick a right-back out there. 
  • Other than that I was content with the line-up. It's not my dream England team but I think the side worked pretty well overall. I think some of the criticism of the selection (other than the Trippier point) was a little bit harsh. 
  • Also nice to see Sterling and Phillips proving people wrong. They are two players who definitely have a lot to contribute on the field for England and some of the pre-tournament criticism of the two of them has been a little bit overblown. I'm not sure they should be guaranteed to make the starting line-up but they're both reasonable selections by Southgate, as shown by the goal today and Phillips' general performance in the midfield. 
  • Croatia looked like a good side but there seemed to be a big Mario Mandzukic-shaped hole at the centre of their attack. Kramaric is a good attacking player but he just doesn't have the same presence that Mandzukic has in the final third. Leading to a lot of neat technical play without much end product and a very comfortable evening for Jordan Pickford. Croatia need to tweak things before the Czech game. 

Austria 3-1 North Macedonia

  • This was a surprisingly entertaining game- both sides really wanted the three points here and really went for each other. It was nice to see and this tournament is certainly proving to be less cagey than 2016 was so far (although tbf there is a reason why 2016 is the worst international tournament I have ever seen). There's still some way to go before 2020/1 becomes a classic tournament but it's starting to warm up nicely a couple of days into the tournament. 
  • Austria deserved the three points here, they created enough to win the game and the Macedonian goal was a bit flukey after a horrific error by Daniel Bachmann. They looked like a decent side without really doing anything to convince me that they are going to have a serious impact on the tournament. 
  • That being said, and I know he's being pretty heavily criticised in Austria, but credit to Franco Foda for making a subtle tactical tweak which allowed Austria to win the game. Alaba really wasn't impacting the game from the centre of the back three so swapping him and Hinteregger (moving Alaba to LCB) allowed him to start bombing forward as an overlapping CB while linking up nicely with Ulmer and Sabitzer. Given that the second Austrian goal came from a great Alaba cross, I would like to see them start with that system in future games. Particularly with Sasa Kalajdzic in the box to feed off that type of service. It could lead to an Austrian side which starts to look like a more serious force in this competition. Hinteregger is a solid defender who should be more than capable of covering for Alaba if he moves forward and I think it's a bit of a waste of Alaba's talent to have him as your most defensive outfield player. He can probably influence the game more if he's moving higher up the pitch. 
  • North Macedonia played well enough for their first game at a major tournament. They have some decent players (Alioski, Elmas, the evergreen Goran Pandev etc) but are a step or two below the level of quality that is really required at a major tournament. Still, it's nice to see Pandev scoring at a major tournament given that he is one of those players who seems to have been around for ever at this point. I don't think they're ready to progress in this tournament but it will be a good experience for them moving forward and they're not completely outclassed at this level. 

Holland 3-2 Ukraine

  • I feel for poor old Mykolenko (the Ukrainian LB)- Denzel Dumfries absolutely destroyed him tonight and he had an absolutely awful night at LB. There is nothing worse than producing a performance like that at a major tournament. I wonder if Zubkov might have been able to protect him more effectively, Marlos did not sense the danger that Dumfries was posing at all either (which was presumably he was subbed back off again after replacing Zubkov). Bushchan also had a bit of a shocker for the third goal. 
  • The Dutch looked like a side with a lot of individual talent but they don't look particularly well-coached. There is a vulnerability in this Dutch side which Ukraine were able to exploit a couple of times tonight. One of the better sides in this tournament could easily punish Holland quite heavily if they repeat some of the basic errors they made at times tonight. 
  • Frenkie De Jong had an excellent game in the midfield tonight- if it weren't for Dumfries traumatising Mykolenko he would easily have earned MOTM. It was a complete midfield performance- he was excellent both with and without the ball tonight. If there is a big hope for this Dutch side it's having such a classy performer in the centre of the park. 
  • The Dutch definitely have a defensive weakness, De Vrij is a good defender but Yarmolenko had a lot of fun in the space behind Van Aanholt/Wijndal and Daley Blind didn't do a brilliant job of stopping him. There is a potential vulnerability down the left-side of the Dutch defence I think. I would also be interested to see what happens if more pressure is put on Timber by another side- he was protected by Dumfries having his way with the Ukrainian left-flank tonight and that won't be the case in the future. If Alaba is allowed to roam from LCB in their next match that could test the Dutch right-flank a bit and I'll probably learn more about them from that. 
  • Ukraine also have defensive vulnerabilities- this is a young and inexperienced defence and it showed tonight. The three goals they conceded were a catalogue of basic errors which you cannot make at a major tournament. Mykolenko in particular had an awful night and Bushchan had a mixed evening (a couple of great saves mixed with a couple of pretty bad mistakes). Ukraine's defence will cost them in this tournament at some point. They also need to try to get Malinovskyi and Zinchenko into more dangerous areas more consistently in the future. 
  • Still, there were plenty of bright spots in the Ukrainian performance. They had a real counter-attacking threat all match and Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk were both excellent and were a real handful for the Dutch defence. If he's in the mood, Yarmolenko is a really classy performer and the Ukrainians more than contributed to a brilliant game of football. Both sides should be able to navigate a path through to the last-16 but I worry about both sides in the knockout stages. 
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Czech Republic 2-0 Scotland

  • That Patrik Schick goal is one of the great goals of Euro history. The technique to hit that ball first-time when it's running away from you from there and to lob Marshall so accurately from 45 yards... it's guaranteed to be goal of the tournament. A special, special goal and a true moment of inspiration in a tournament which, in my opinion, is looking set to be a far far more enjoyable tournament than Euro 2016 was. 
  • Scotland didn't play badly here to be fair to them and on another day they could have got something from the game. I think the big issue for Scotland is that they don't have a high-class attacking player anywhere on the pitch. Their strikers work hard and the team create enough chances but nobody stands out as the type of clinical finisher you often need to separate a tight game at a major tournament. If Scotland can find a goalscorer they could become a pretty good team pretty quickly. 
  • However, it must be said that this was a textbook example of how the Czechs win games of football. They are physical, they are well-organised defensively and they are a serious threat from set-pieces when given the opportunity. Overall, it's a vast improvement on their 2016 outing and my feeling that they have improved considerably over the past year is probably being borne out on the evidence of their opening game. 
  • I'll admit that I have never been the biggest fan of Patrik Schick at club level. He's never scored enough goals on a consistent basis for me. But he was excellent today, both of his goals were really well finished and it goes against my general impression of him as a relatively average finisher. 
  • I think Scotland missed Kieran Tierney today. Neither Cooper nor Hendry were pushing into midfield from the CB positions as effectively as Tierney would usually do and the link-up between Tierney and Robertson is usually a real strength of this Scotland team. To be honest though, speaking as an Arsenal fan, the biggest issue with Tierney is that he has a habit of being injured at bad times. It's always the risk you take when relying on a player who is a little bit injury-prone. 

Poland 1-2 Slovakia

  • We need to talk about Poland at major tournaments. Every time we reach a major tournament there always seem to be a lot of people who are very confident that Poland are going to have a decent tournament and are going to reach the knockouts and be a reasonably dangerous side in the knockouts. And every time they seem to find a way to mess up in the group stages. Hell, this time I even put them below Sweden knowing that they were in dodgy form and knowing that they tend to flatter to deceive on the big stage. And they still look like they might struggle to meet the lowered bar I have set for them in this tournament. Useless, useless Poland. What a waste of a Lewandowski they are. 
  • A lot of the credit for this win goes to Stefan Tarkovic (the Slovakian coach)- he completely won the tactical battle with Paulo Sousa. Hamsik and Duda as a pair of false nines worked really well and made the Polish back three practically defunct while allowing Slovakia to swamp the centre of the pitch and stop Poland finding Zielinski in the sorts of areas where he could feed Lewandowski. This left Poland reliant on the inconsistent offensive output of Jozwiak and Rybus on the flanks. Very sharp tactical set-up and I really do think this victory was testament to the effect that good coaching can have on a side at a major tournament. 
  • Part of the issue for Poland is that I don't really the 3ATB suits them. For example, the 3ATB system used in this tournament really suits Austria (with Alaba at LCB, allowing him to roam from a deep position and influence the game), Scotland (assuming Tierney is fit) and the Dutch (Daley Blind and De Ligt are very capable of moving forward from a centre-back position to have a significant influence on the game). I'm not really sure that Bednarek or Bereszynski are capable of influencing the game in the same way from a deep position. Particularly today, given that Slovakia played two false nines, you had three defenders effectively marking nothing allowing the Slovakians to dominate the rest of the pitch and frustrate Poland while picking their moments to launch dangerous attacks against a high Polish line. 
  • The headlines for this game are likely going to relate to Lewandowski going missing at a major tournament again. But the issue is with the Polish coaching staff and tactical set-up again at a major tournament. Lewandowski is probably the best player in the world right now. If you can't provide even average service to him it is a crime against football. He had nothing to feed off today and any striker needs a certain level of service into them in order to function successfully. 
  • I regret writing Hamsik off pre-tournament, he was excellent today. Skriniar would be my man of the match though, he didn't put a foot wrong all match. 
  • That being said, the one caveat in relation to this one is Krychowiak's red card. I do feel that Sousa tweaked things sufficiently at half-time that Poland were playing their way back into the match before the red card and it was a turning-point. And the first Slovakian goal came from a pretty horrific error from Szczesny who always seems to be having one of his days when playing for Poland at a major tournament. 

Spain 0-0 Sweden

  • The first goalless draw of the tournament but an entertaining watch nevertheless. Both sides will walk away feeling like they should have scored a winner. Marcus Berg surely an early contender for miss of the tournament already. 
  • I predicted a draw pre-game, and the second-half was pretty much in line with what I was expecting here. Spain to have a lot of possession without sufficient penetration to breach the Swedish defence and Sweden having their moments on the break but not quite enough to win the game. 
  • Since Janne Andersson took over the Swedish side, I have developed a respect for their ability to form an obdurate yellow wall in front of their goal. Their side doesn't look great on paper but they are sufficiently more effective than the sum of the parts. There's a reason why I tipped them to finish second in this group over Poland- they know how to frustrate teams and how to get decent results in big games. They are also the last serious international side to play an old-school 4-4-2 (which is by no means a bad thing- I'm sure nobody wants to go back to the days of England setting up in two banks of four at major tournaments) but to their credit they pull it off consistently and they are a monumental pain in the ass to play against. So hats off to Sweden. Danielsson in particular was a rock tonight and Olsen always seems to play amazingly in a Sweden shirt (while managing to look abysmal at club level). For a side who want to play defensively, a 4-4-2 can still be an effective system and Sweden regularly prove the truth of that in games like tonight. 
  • That being said, I actually felt that Sweden were poor/Spain were excellent in the first-half and I have no idea how the game was 0-0 at half-time. Spain had 3 or 4 presentable chances and they really should have taken at least one of them. Morata in particular missed a huge chance in the first-half which is criminal for a top-level striker of his experience level. 
  • The Spanish pressing was excellent all night and it will make them dangerous for any side trying to face them with a higher line than the Swedes set up with tonight. When they're on it there is an intensity about this Spain side which can make them pretty frightening. They're still not a side I would want to face in this tournament. 
  • Alexander Isak is a highly talented young player and is definitely one to watch for the future. When given the opportunity, he was a menace for Laporte and Pau Torres all evening. 
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Hungary 0-3 Portugal

  • I'm not sure that it was wise to have a full-capacity stadium in Budapest for this one... but I will say that it was great to see a full crowd at a football match again. It has been missed over the past year. 
  • Portugal looked pretty good in their opening game- the scoreline in the end probably reflected the balance of play. I expect Portugal to be more expansive in this tournament than they have been in previous tournaments and I think that was borne out in their opener as they pushed higher than I would ordinarily expect them to. 
  • Portugal have a lot of attacking talent and they looked dangerous from the opening whistle here. They really should have been in front long before Guerreiro's deflected effort gave them the lead. The main thing I noticed from a Portuguese perspective is that they were willing to play a more direct ball if the opportunity was there to do so. Given the pace in this Portuguese side I'm not sure that I would want to play a high line against them, I could see such an approach causing problems for teams trying to deal with Portugal later in the tournament. 
  • Hungary looked like what they are, an ok side who are out of their depth in a fiendishly difficult group. They looked relatively well-organised and they are definitely a physical side but they didn't really look like they were capable of progressing from this group even with the backing of their home support. I felt Orban played really well for 80 minutes so it was harsh that the first goal deflected in off him and that he was at fault for the penalty for the second. 

France 1-0 Germany

  • France beat Germany relatively comfortably here and never really looked like they had to get out of second gear to do so. Defensively, France were exceptional and the German attackers didn't have a sniff all game, particularly after a sloppy own goal had given the French the lead. 
  • I expected the French forward line, particularly with Mbappe's pace, to cause the German high line serious problems in this game. That was largely borne out here as the Germans were fortunate that they only conceded once given how often the French almost released Mbappe into a dangerous area of the pitch to extend the lead. The Germans defensive approach to this game didn't really work for me- in my experience where the French tend to struggle a bit is when they're expected to push higher and take the initiative in a match. 
  • What I didn't expect is for the German offence to be nullified to the extent that it was here. Given the amount of creative talent the Germans have it was really disappointing to see how comfortably the French defence controlled them. I expected Germany to be shaky defensively in this tournament. I did not expect them to look soporific in the final third. I need to see a huge improvement from the Germans in the second game but, at this rate, you have to assume that Low is being used as a human shield here to allow Flick to begin the serious rebuilding process (presumably with the aim of competing more successfully in Qatar in 2022 and winning the Euros on home soil in 2024) with a clean slate after a disappointing Euros has been absorbed. 
  • Mbappe, Varane and Kante were the outstanding players for me tonight. Excellent performances from all three of them. Benzema also looked worryingly comfortable back in a French shirt already given that this was his first competitive match back in the fold. 
  • I wish I could say that someone stood out for Germany but nobody really did. A pretty poor performance from them to be honest. 
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Sjg's Predictions- Euro 2020/1- Round 2

Turkey vs Wales- Baku

Neither of these sides particularly impressed me in their opening games. Turkey were decimated by a solid Italian performance in Baku while Wales, despite getting a point, looked second best against the Swiss. Overall, given that they are likely to have a reasonable amount of backing in Baku... I think I'll give this one to Turkey. I also suspect we might see a more effective Turkish side when they're pushing forward a bit more- we never really got to see what they are capable of offensively against Italy. 

Prediction: Turkey win

Italy vs Switzerland- Rome

Italy looked strong in their opening-game (in fact in general most of the bigger sides looked pretty strong in their openers- Spain were the only side to slip up and even their performance wasn't particularly bad) while the Swiss missed a huge opportunity for three points against Wales (on chances created the Swiss really should have won that match. Still, the Swiss should pose more of a challenge to Italy than Turkey did in the opening-game. Even so I expect the Italians to take the win here. 

Prediction: Italy win

Finland vs Russia- St. Petersburg

I really don't rate this Russian side. But... I think they're pretty well-suited to playing Finland. Firstly, the game is played in St Petersburg and the Russians have a decent enough home record in general. Secondly, I could see Russia's 3ATB shape nullifying the threat posed by Pukki and Pohjanpalo and potentially nullifying Finland's main outlet. Plus Finland tend to defend pretty deep which will allow Russia to put a lot of crosses into the Finnish box. With Dzyuba lurking that's a dangerous game for Finland to play. 

Prediction: Russia win

Belgium vs Denmark- Copenhagen

In ordinary circumstances, with home advantage, I could see Denmark getting a point here. But I think the mental impact of the Finland game is likely to hurt Denmark and, given Belgium's quality, I expect them to take the win here. I could see this group developing into a situation where three sides have three points behind Belgium- and that could lead to a fun final day. 

Prediction: Belgium win

North Macedonia vs Ukraine- Bucharest

I can't really see North Macedonia getting anything here. Ukraine have a decent set of attacking players and I think they'll break through the North Macedonian defence at some point in Bucharest to claim the win. 

Prediction: Ukraine win

Austria vs Holland- Amsterdam

Austria looked decent in their opening game but I think that Holland have enough to take the win here. If Austria can get Alaba on the ball in the right areas that could change though, the Dutch defence looked pretty ropey at times against Ukraine and, like Ukraine, Austria have attacking players who could exploit that. 

Prediction: Holland win

Croatia vs Czech Republic- Glasgow

A tough game to predict. I think this is a declining Croatia side and I think the Czechs are well-suited to outmuscling Croatia here (the Czechs are a physical side if nothing else). Still, Croatia have plenty of talent on paper and should benefit from playing in a cool Glasgow over the scorching London summer sun. I think a draw here- I can see Croatia dictating the play and I think they will eventually find a way through the Czech defence but I think the Czechs will score, likely from a set-piece, at some point. 

Prediction: Draw

England vs Scotland- London

It's a real shame that this is not going to be played before a full stadium. I found the reaction to Scotland's opening defeat a bit odd (they by no means played badly against the Czechs) as it was always a possibility that Scotland would struggle to pick up results in one of the tournament's tougher groups. Still, even though Scotland will give this everything they have, England should pick up the win. 

Prediction: England win

Slovakia vs Sweden- St. Petersburg

Slovakia's win over Poland was, from a tactical perspective, a really impressive opening. That being said, Sweden tend to be less flaky than Poland at major tournaments and, particularly if Kulusevski returns for them, I think they'll have too much for Slovakia here. Sweden will play more expansively here than they did against Spain. 

Prediction: Sweden win

Poland vs Spain- Seville

I expect Zielinski and Lewandowski to have more space in this match than they did against Slovakia. But I just cannot see the Polish defence managing the Spanish attack in the way that Sweden did. The Polish defence is vulnerable and I can't see Spain failing to score for two games in a row. 

Prediction: Spain win

France vs Hungary- Budapest

I mean... it might take France a while to break Hungary down but they're gonna find a way through here eventually. 

Prediction: France win

Germany vs Portugal- Munich

Broadly, I expect a similar game to Germany's opener. They will have a good amount of possession but will struggle to break through a disciplined Portuguese defence while Portugal will have lots of dangerous opportunities to counter against the German defence. 

Prediction: Portugal win

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Finland 0-1 Russia

  • The second-half of this game was probably the first time in the tournament where I felt that the quality of the football descended to 2016 levels. I believe that 16 teams is perfect for the Euros and 32 teams is perfect for the World Cup but I also think that 2016 was a poor tournament even by the standards of a 24 team tournament. That tournament was, by a mile, the worst international tournament I have seen. The story of this tournament obviously is still being written but the early signs are more positive than in 2016 and I'm optimistic this tournament will at least go down as a good tournament even if not a great one. 
  • That being said, I think Finland missed a trick against the Russians yesterday. I predicted a Russia win because I felt that Finland would drop too deep and that would allow the Russian creative mids and Dzyuba to get into the game. Once that happened, Russia would likely break Finland down either through a Dzyuba header or a moment of quality from Golovin or Miranchuk. This is pretty much exactly what happened. 
  • I think Finland should have tried to press higher against the Russians from the start of the match. To put it mildly, the Russian defence looks extremely delicate and if you put serious pressure on it you will create chances against the Russians. Finland didn't do that early enough which then allowed Russia to simply keep the ball and kill the game in the second-half. Which, to Russia's credit, they did very effectively. 
  • Finland have a decent set of defensive players but I think this game showed their limitations as a side. If they concede the first goal in a match it is very difficult to see how they find their way back into it, their sole offensive strategy seems to be hoping you can hit Pukki and Pohjanpalo on the break and can play them into some dangerous areas. 
  • Russia look like a really poor side in this tournament and I don't expect them to have any significant impact on this tournament. This is a weak generation of Russian players and I think their performances so far reflect that. 

Turkey 0-2 Wales

  • This was a really, really good game to watch- to be honest I was a little bit surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this one. Credit to both sides for an entertaining game of football. 
  • Turkey are meant to have a solid defence right? Like that is meant to be their strength as a side? Because defensively they were all over the place in both of their games so far. The number of times that there has been a lack of pressure from the midfield players on the ball while the defence pushes up and tries to play a high line... it's amateurish and it is unacceptable at this level. 
  • Turkey were warned when Bale played Ramsey in twice before his goal. For Wales to pull off the same move three times in the same half and to create three great chances in doing so is shocking from a Turkish perspective and they were eventually punished for it. 
  • Bale and Ramsey's link-up play was excellent and was a throwback to their 2016 days- although Bale's penalty was a bit of a shocker. Danny Ward has also been really impressive in goal for the Welsh so far, picking him has proven to be an excellent decision by Rob Page.
  • Turkey did have their moments though- Calhanoglu's set-pieces were a threat all game and with better finishing the Turks could definitely have found an equaliser here. Still, the difference between the two sides was in each side's defensive displays. The Welsh were organised. The Turks weren't. Thus the Welsh have effectively booked a place in the last-16. 

Italy 3-0 Switzerland

  • I'll admit I didn't pay as much attention to this one as I have the other games in the tournament- was out with mates so only had an eye on it in the background. 
  • Still, the Italian performance was highly impressive again- the Swiss created nothing all game and the Italians were more than capable of finding gaps in the Swiss backline. 
  • Locatelli was probably the star today- his second goal was an excellent finish in a tournament which, in general, hasn't had a huge number of goals from outside the box. 
  • This Italy side are dangerous and should be watched closely as they progress through the tournament. Roberto Mancini is a very good manager who is proving himself to be highly capable after being written off by some people after he left City. 
  • Switzerland's performances have declined a bit from recent tournaments. They're in trouble against Turkey in their final match. 
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12 hours ago, VamPook said:

Just noticed Sweden are favourites over Slovakia tomorrow? 🤔

Yeah I back Sweden. I think they're a decent side. Slovakia were excellent against Poland but that struck me as the result of their coach coming up with a great game plan rather than anything more long-term- in general their recent form hasn't been that impressive. 

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North Macedonia 1-2 Ukraine

  • This game was a good watch between two sides who really went for the win. 
  • I have a lot of respect for how the North Macedonians have approached this tournament- they haven't sat back and just tried to park the bus in games. When they have had the opportunity to attack they have put men into forward areas and tried to get the ball to them. It's nice to see, and in both their games they have been pretty competitive. 
  • Ukraine have a talented set of offensive players who created a lot of good chances here. Yarmolenko in particular was really impressive. Ukraine will be a threat for anyone who faces them in this tournament and it would not surprise me if they had one big shock result in the knockout stages against someone. 
  • That being said, the Ukraine defence does not particularly impress me- they really struggled against the Dutch in their opener and the Ukrainians should be disappointed at the danger the North Macedonians continued to pose throughout the second-half. I expect Ukraine to continue to entertain in this tournament. 
  • This game also saw another missed penalty (and a penalty which was only scored after a rebound)- the quality of penalty-taking in this tournament so far has been extremely poor. I believe more have been saved than scored so far? To be fair, in this case I thought it was an exceptional save from Dimitrievski who looks like a solid goalkeeper for North Mac. 
  • Ukraine should go through to the second round from here in my opinion- even if they narrowly lose to Austria I would imagine they would sneak through in third place with three points. Which probably means this will go down as a successful tournament for them. 

Belgium 2-1 Denmark

  • I have a huge amount of respect for how Denmark approached this game and for the spirit shown in their performance. I struggle to think of a side who have been unluckier in their first two games of a major tournament than the Danes have in this tournament- everything which could have gone wrong for them has gone wrong and at the very least they didn't deserve to lose against either Finland or Belgium. 
  • That being said, I do think Denmark's flaw as a side is a lack of a top-quality goalscorer. They have been in a lot of dangerous areas in both of their games so far without being able to find that finishing touch to get the necessary result. Obviously this issue is compounded by Eriksen's collapse- he would have been a fairly reliable source of goals in this tournament under normal circumstances. Still, all is far from lost for Denmark- in my opinion they are more than capable of beating a poor Russia side in their final match (and frankly I think Denmark are well-built to exploit Russia's flaws as a side- the Russian defence will be under pressure in that match and that is not good for the Russians)
  • The turning point in this match was De Bruyne coming off the bench. Belgium immediately started flowing when he came on and both the assist for the first goal and the finish for the second goal were sublime. De Bruyne playing well for City has become so routine in recent years that I think we all sometimes forget exactly how good he is. 
  • The Belgian defence does look shaky. None of their defenders really stand out as being top class and Meunier and Thorgan Hazard are attacking wing-backs so don't always cover for Alderweireld and Vertonghen to the extent that you would want them to. For all of their talent, I suspect that this is what is eventually going to let Belgium down. But, hey, if they do win the tournament they will probably win it playing entertaining football so I won't moan too much about it! 
  • Hazard and Witsel also looked good when they came on. It is worrying seeing some of Belgium's top players starting to fire as we really get into this tournament. 

Austria 0-2 Netherlands

  • The Dutch played well in this game, although I suspect that most sides in the tournament will cause Holland more problems than Austria did here. Dumfries in particular continues to excel in this tournament- this time managing to win a penalty and get the second goal. The Dutch system really seems to suit him as De Roon is often covering that flank from a CM position allowing Dumfries to really bomb forward from RWB. He's a powerful player who is going to cause sides issues throughout this tournament. 
  • I felt that De Jong and Depay were also excellent last night- I've found a lot of the snark about De Jong since he moved to Barca to be harsh, he's largely played well whenever I've seen them play and my issues with the current Barca side would likely lie elsewhere. 
  • When talking about Austria's opening win I praised Franco Foda for moving Alaba to LCB allowing him to roam a bit and have more of an influence on the game than he was having in the centre of the back three. I cannot understand why Alaba started this game in the centre of defence as it meant that Austria's best player was playing far too deep to allow him to impact the game. You really want Alaba and Sabitzer to be linking up for the Austrians and Alaba's starting position doesn't really allow that to happen. 
  • I do also think that Austria are not the right side to cause Holland problems. Their forwards aren't particularly pacy and that was how Ukraine caused Holland regular problems in their opener. By contrast, Austria's main attacking threat comes from crosses into their big strikers and, when they are set in their defensive shape, defenders like De Vrij are more than capable of dealing with that. 
  • The Dutch pressing has, at times, been pretty impressive in their opening games and it might cause sides problems later in the tournament. 
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Hi all- busy weekend so I'll update my game reviews/add more flesh to my predictions tomorrow morning but quickly here's what I'm thinking for the final round of games: 

Italy beat Wales

Switzerland beat Turkey

Netherlands beat North Macedonia

Austria to draw with Ukraine

Belgium beat Finland

Denmark beat Russia

Croatia beat Scotland

England beat Czech Republic

Spain beat Slovakia

Sweden to draw with Poland

Germany beat Hungary

Portugal to draw with France

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